Tactical Emergency Medical Services – a preview

As you may, or may not know…there is a little hidden underground of EMS professionals known as Tactical Medics (The term “medics” in this case is not strictly for Paramedics. It is a generalized term for all EMS providers trained at the tactical level.)

Tactical EMS came about after a series of tragedies in our nation such as Waco, TX,  the North Hollywood incident, and most recently the Burbank CA shooting. It has changed the way Law Enforcement has responded to such incidents but yet EMS still responds relatively the same way…Stand on the side lines, until L.E.O.’s secure the scene, and then we begin triage. It is a safe way to do business and we usually just clean up the mess that’s left afterwards.  Tactical EMS works on both sides of this fence of scene safety. If you picture the Police Officers in harm’s way, and then EMS is back behind cover in a “safe location” waiting for the action to end. It allows Officers to have the knowledge to provide front line emergency care, and it allows EMS to assist in retreat to cover in the event that there is an officer down.

Why have we not evolved with Law Enforcement on this purpose? There are several big city agencies, usually urban environments who have members that are designated as tactical members who will assist in SWAT callouts. This is a concept that is very much in its infancy, much like the profession in a whole. I think it is imperative that each and every organization have some sort of “Special Ops” division that has a few specially trained members for these purposes. Yes, the cost can be a hindrance up front. There are several grants and such available from the Department of Homeland Security that you can use to train members regionally.

I did my training back in 2009 with STS Consultants, (click on the link for more information about the company, and the TEMS program) at a Western Massachusetts training facility. I learned a lot about scene safety, mostly scene survey. I learned how to asses a situation before I had even walked into the house. I learned how to asses for rapid routes of egress under stressful situations with low visibility. Overall, I couldn’t recommend this program more to anyone who wants to take it. I can think a dozen times where I noticed something on scene because I have had this training that could have potentially harmed myself, my coworker, or the other first responders on the scene.

In closing, the TEMS program is an innovative solution to help save an injured member of public safety. The primary purposes of TEMS is (according to STS Consulting):

  • Recognize a life threatening injury.
  • Provide treatment under hostile conditions
  • Conduct remote assessments and treatments
  • Plan and execute a rapid rescue to hard cover or safety.
  • Concepts of “Self-Aid” and improvised bandaging will be applied.

T.E.M.S. programs are offered all throughout the country. I only highlighted STS Consultants in this blog, because it was where I was personally trained. A simple Google search can guide you to various T.E.M.S. programs throughout the country, with various intensities in training, and various student dynamics. I hope this got you thinking about your agency, and the need for implementing or improving your T.E.M.S. program.

Take care everyone, until next time.


2012: What Will It Do For You

This post is going to be straying from the usual gun-ho EMS topics, and take it to a little bit more personal level. After all, if we don’t take care of ourselves first…how can we take care of others?

Well, its here. Its 2012. Another year, another chance, another fresh start. That being said, I’m here to offer a few personal & professional points to carry with you through 2012. They say a lot of New Years resolutions fail because they tend to be too broad, and nonspecific. In order for you to truly succeed with your resolution, make it smaller and quantifiable. Take the “I’m going to loose weight,” and make it “I’m going to be able to run five miles in 30 minutes.” Instead of saying your going to be nicer to people, actually open up your smartphone calender and block off time to go to a soup kitchen, or volunteer at a shelter. It will surprise you how quickly you will see your resolutions succeed.

Now that you have an idea on how to write your resolutions, lets think about where to direct your time and energy. This is when I tell you to analyze your professional, and personal lives.

Are they in unison?

……..Are you content?

……………….Are you HAPPY?

We work in a profession of selflessness. Day in and day out, we are asked to give up time. Time spent with our Husbands and Wives. Time spent with our children, and time spent with our friends. We miss meals, holidays, long weekends, vacations, and most importantly sleep.

I want you to think about a couple of questions:

1) Do you still see the joy out of being able to help someone in their time of need?

2) Do you feel like you are trapped, and are generally uninterested in your career any more?

If you answered no to question number one, or yes to question number 2 then it is time for you to move on. You don’t have to leave EMS, just get some sort of change to happen that will renew your love for your job. See about opportunities in training, (speaking from experience) it can be a great renewal to work with people who are excited about the career. You’d be surprised how quickly you will “get the wind back in your sails.” If Education isn’t your thing, then try a change of scenery. Bid on another station, see about cross-training so you can work in dispatch. These are just a few things that you can see about changing at work before you loose all faith in your specific Public Safety profession.

Most importantly, remember those family members, friends, and other various loved ones I talked about earlier? See them. I recently had a 2 week stretch where I didn’t work ANY overtime above my 48 hour schedule. I felt like I had weeks off. I was used to having “hours” off here and there to make it seem like days, but after resting and stuff it really was just hours. I spent time with my girlfriend, friends from college, family members, and people that really do make life seem enjoyable. That happiness is something that your patients, and your coworkers will notice, because no matter how hard you try it is not something that you can hide.

A sense of contentment is what will bring this profession into the next level. If you are contsantly talking about how being a Paramedic isn’t good enough, or is “just a stepping stone,” then that is all it will ever be. If you can’t find the enthusiasm in your job, then why even do it at all?

What ever holiday it is that you celebrate, I hope it was one filled with happiness.

Stay safe in 2012, we lost enough brothers and sisters last year.

Stop, and Remember…..

A Time to Remember

Today, I am writing this post as my girlfriend and I are currently 34,000 feet in the air somewhere over the “fly-over states” of the Midwest. We are heading to Vegas for a quick weekend vacation with another couple. It has me thinking of all that I am lucky enough to be able to do in this country. We owe that to a very certain group of people. The service men and women of this country fight day in and day out to maintain our freedoms and protect the life we lead, and all to often, take for granted.

I am writing today to memorialize an EMS ally that many of you may not know. Major John Pryor, was a combat surgeon with a forward surgical unit in the United States Army. December 25th 2008 Major Pryor was killed when his surgical unit went under attack while providing life saving care for our troops in Baghdad.

While attending college in Massachusetts I had the pleasure of leading a campus based EMS organization. That organization, every year, would travel to a national conference held by the Nation Collegiate EMS Foundation. This foundation provided professional networking and training for the colleges around the country that ran their own Emergency Medical Service. Services varied from First Response to full blown ALS transporting services at some of the bigger universities. If there was ever an underground EMS 2.0 Movement, it was here. People here are enthusiastic, creative, and motivated. They are motivated to go out and change the world.

Dr. Pryor was a practicing Trauma Surgeon at the University of Pennsylvania. He would always bring a wealth of knowledge to the NCEMSF Conference. He would show how battlefield trauma care is actively shaping the way that Civilian EMS provides trauma care. He would bring pictures to show the work that was being done overseas, but most importantly he would motivate you to go out there and change the world. Dr. George Koenig (President of NCEMSF Board of Directors at the time of his death) described it perfectly in a letter to the membership:

“He is best remembered by his favorite quote by Albert Schweitzer. “Seek always to do some good, somewhere. Every man has to seek in his own way to realize his true worth. You must give some time to your fellow man. Even if it’s a little thing, do something for those who need help, something for which you get no pay but the privilege of doing it. For remember, you don’t lie in a world all your own. Your brothers are here, too.”

The EMS community lost an amazing ally and advocate that Christmas. He was a humble man, that truly had the power to motivate many.

I had the pleasure of attending a few different lectures of his while at the conference. Once was a Key Note, and the other was a optional lecture. Both times I walked out of there with a wealth of knowledge pertaining to a world I have never seen. Battlefield medicine is a very interesting topic, and something that I have never personally had the pleasure of experiencing.

To all the men, and women who are serving overseas, and their families forced to spend the holidays without them…My prayers are with you that you can find a peace in knowing that you are doing this country a great service. One that I will never be able to pay you back, except with overwhelming amounts of gratitude and support.

Thank You. If you would like to read a little more about Major John Pryor, MD please click here.

Merry Christmas everyone.

“Greater Love Hath No Man…”

Memorial Photo from the Facebook Page

Paul Frontiero – a 27 year old New Hampshire native was stabbed Sunday night. According to media outlets in the Boston area, Paul was reportedly helping two females that were being attacked. As a result of his heroism, Paul also suffered multiple stab wounds. This includes a stab wound to the chest, per The Boston Globe.

Personally, I have never met Paul. However, it breaks my heart to see a provider taken from this world for a senseless act of violence. My prayers are with the family and friends of Paul, as this cannot be easy to deal with.

Paul continued to live the mentality of a true EMS Provider, off the clock, never being afraid to answer the call for help. God Bless his soul, and may he be at peace.

Click here to be taken to the Facebook Memorial Page.

Information on his burial and calling hours can be found here. No information about Honor Guards or a uniformed presence being requested at the funeral.

Keeping it Together, a Discussion About Unity.

So I have taken a couple weeks off from blogging. It’s been a busy end of August.

As usual, I was browsing the typical social media outlets and I saw a post from a fellow paramedic. He was mentioning how there was a showing of different agencies from around New England for (what I believe) was an EMS LODD Funeral. He was in shock that there was less than 300 people there for a LODD Funeral. To be honest, I can’t say that I blame him.

I look at the displays of unity from across the area, PD and Fire always have a strong showing at a funeral for one of their own. Thankfully, I have yet to experience a first hand EMS LODD Funeral. I have had colleauges sadly pass away due to accidents or illnesses. They are just as sad, just as tragic, but there isn’t that sense of sacrafice because it obviously was a tragic passing.

When will EMS providers get the picture about unity?

I sit around work and listen to people who do nothing, but complain, about doing work. If something goes wrong, there’s 10 people in line to throw some one under the bus, and 2 standing next to him. It is sad really. These attitudes are our biggest downfall. I would love nothing more than to see the EMS Profession grow into something that people want to make careers out of…but day after day we are sabotaging our own advancement.

My suggestion? Get involved. Get involved with National Associations, such as NAEMT (Please forgive my shameless plug). They are really making a substantial effort thru political channels to give EMS Providers the legislation necessary to bring our profession to the next level. I applaud them for doing that.

Next, share you’re ideas. We are not going to get anywhere if we don’t even try. Maybe using blogging websites, or other forms of social media opens doors I, personally, never thought of walking through.

Finally…When push comes to shove, be there. Don’t back down, don’t run away, and fight for yourself (collectively, not individually) EMS is a profession that I love very much. However the majority of EMS Systems are built on the never ending “revolving door.” Meaning there is always a constant turn over of employees and experience levels. If we ever solve these fairly substantial issues, then we will see EMS rocket into version 2.0