EMS World

JUL 2018

EMS World Magazine is the most authoritative source in the world for clinical and educational material designed to improve the delivery of prehospital emergency medical care.

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24 JULY 2018 | EMSWORLD.com COVER REPORT: MCI & DISASTER RESPONSE "We're a unit within the NYPD that spe- cializes in rescue as well as tactics, so if you decide to climb a bridge…and want to take your own life, we're the ones that'll respond," says NYPD Det. Andrew Bershad, NREMT-P, CIC, a tactical medic in the ESU. "We'll climb the bridge, try to convince you to come down, and remove you safely." The New York City subway system, which covers hundreds of miles, is another com- mon location where people end their lives— a horrendous reality the ESU handles on a regular basis. "We're the ones who will go down to the tracks and remove [the remains] so we can open up the pathways of transit again," says Bershad. As new forms of terrorism emerge, with vans being turned into weapons and school shootings breeding copycats, the ESU must learn how to adapt to this rapidly changing environment. "ESU conducts regular training and equips its members with the best equip- ment available to ensure its members are prepared for any challenges they face with the evolving terror threats," Flynn says. "In response to the threat of simultaneous attacks or multiple incidents, the NYPD significantly expanded resources to pro- vide more members trained and equipped to operate in tactical environments." Broad-Based Training Flynn attributes ESU's history of success- ful responses to large-scale incidents both within and outside of New York City to its consistent training. To upkeep its readi- ness for mass-casualty incidents, ESU continuously works with city, state, and federal resources, including the ESU K9 unit as well as special operations assets from the harbor unit, aviation unit, and strategic response group, according to Flynn. Bershad says the repetition of train- ing helps members keep their cool during intense calls: "I think through every stress- ful situation you end up in, you resort back to quality training where you develop mus- cle memory and prepare for any situation that might cross your path." Bershad also believes maintaining effective response tactics through train- ing comes down to basic scene safety and situational awareness. "There needs to be heightened awareness of what's going on. If you go back to scene safety in EMS 101, you [learn you] have to be aware of your surroundings," he says. "I think both tac- tically and medically, it has to be looked at in the same manner as we expect more mass-casualty incidents." Preparation for large-scale incidents cannot be restricted within ESU or any one agency—agencies preparing together is the key to success. "ESU members are at the forefront of the collaboration between the NYPD and FDNY," says Flynn. ESU maintains a strong relationship with other agencies to guaran- tee a cohesive interagency response during critical incidents by conducting exercises and trainings together. Their close training to ensure preparation for future disasters and terrorist incidents became an even higher priority after the attacks of Sep- tember 11, 2001. "ESU ser ves as the primar y tactical team making initial entry into high-threat environments and facilitates insertion of rescue task force (RTF) personnel," says Flynn. "New York City's RTF/active-shooter response model incorporates personnel from the NYPD Special Operations and Counterterrorism bureaus as well as FDNY firefighters and EMS providers. ESU mem- bers are also involved in working with FDNY counterparts to collectively find solutions and recommend policies and procedures for response to terror attacks." In addition to tactical support at all large-scale incidents and events in New York City, ESU provides countersniper teams and armored vehicles for opera- tions in hot and warm zones. Providing protection for all first responders in an MCI (whether terrorist attack, natural disaster, or just an accident) is a key mission of ESU. First responders should keep in mind that in this day and age, the familiar (and safe, depending on location) environments in which they operate could quickly switch from secure to austere. "It's part of the risk of what we do," Bershad says. "Something as simple as a train station or a bike path could become an active crime scene with increased potential of further injury to the rescuers responding." Detective Andrew Bershad training in an ESU helicopter. (Photo: Christopher McNerney)

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