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Home > Topics > Ambulances / Emergency Vehicles

Navy Yard shooting: Fire and EMS preparedness called into question

A total of 9 emergency response units were downgraded from advanced life support status due to no paramedic on board

By EMS1 Staff

WASHINGTON — The D.C. Firefighters Union said a total of 9 emergency response units were downgraded from advanced life support status to basic life support during the Navy Yard shooting.

WUSA9 reported that there were no paramedics on board those units, which means the personnel on board could only provide minimal emergency care on the scene. Medic units 7, 8, 27, 30, 19, 24 and 31 were all downgraded, according to the report. Engines 20 and 31 were also downgraded and didn’t have a medic on board, according to the report.

It’s unclear how many units responded to the scene of the massacre, according to the report.

The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.
James E Glass James E Glass Thursday, September 19, 2013 4:02:09 PM cant the people on unit done the BLS and operated the unit .Think back in the early days of EMS that what rooled on all the calls & if we need ALS we called for it and meet they enroute to the hospital . It show me that DC hae forgoten their Basic roots EMTs use to handle alot of calls without a Medic
Licienne Benedetto-Sodano Licienne Benedetto-Sodano Thursday, September 19, 2013 4:24:23 PM the american way these days......gotta blame someone and that's pretty sad...hmmmm I am thinking cut backs caused the no medic on board issue.....when I was BLS I sure have vivid memories of maybe jobs with out a medic on did the best you could with what you had cause you had to. Your skills kicked into over drive and you just did what you have to do and hope for the best. I think BLS is leaning l to much on ALS these days and they lose some of the skills they were taught and trained on.
John Townsend John Townsend Thursday, September 19, 2013 6:08:41 PM DC Fire & EMS did not come onto the Navy Yard for a few hours after the incident started. The only medical personnel at the scene were Navy Corpsmen and a couple Navy Doctors led by a Chief Corpsman who is also a paramedic. The swat teams had their own team medics with them during the building clearings. Para-medicine is based on combat medicine, so who better to have at the scene then military medical. It would have been a nice thing thou to have an ambulance nearby on base for rapid transport if the need arouse.
Scott Lancaster Scott Lancaster Thursday, September 19, 2013 6:11:48 PM Interesting... The media videos show DCFDEMS ambulance units responding at the outset with the PD... Maybe there were staged and not on the base?
Dave Craig Dave Craig Thursday, September 19, 2013 6:39:10 PM Paramedicine evolved from combat, but the last time I checked, Paramedicine was based on the concept of clinical best practice, which had been demonstrated to be most effective by means of trials and studies, hence Paramedicine being a dynamic profession that learns and adapts.
Dave Adler Dave Adler Thursday, September 19, 2013 9:54:39 PM What can a medic do on a trauma call that a basic can not do, beside pain management? ABC's are a basic skill... CPR is a basic skill... applying trauma dressing is a basic skill... starting IV's is a basic skill in some areas (Including both MD and VA with additional training)... I can go on. Unless there is a medical condition that can be stabilized by meds, a medic will be performing mostly basic skills. (Yes, I know some meds can be used in a traumatic CPR, but the outcome is likely not going to be changed in this kind of situation.)
George Yaworski George Yaworski Friday, September 20, 2013 6:01:56 AM It is not proper tha a city like Washingtion cannot have accss to advanced life support during daytime hours. Consiering how often it is in the news, that structure needs an overhaul.
Sandi Hand Scranton Sandi Hand Scranton Friday, September 20, 2013 6:33:04 AM Difficult to Monday morning quarterback a situation without knowing all the pertinent info. If there were adequate military EMS personnel on scene and good triage done, perhaps this is why outside medic units were downgraded. Fluid, pain management, and rapid stabilization and transport is what is needed in this type of situation. Scary, however, to think that the very people needed inside could have been some of the killed or injured, however.
Bryan W. Waagner Bryan W. Waagner Friday, September 20, 2013 7:06:58 AM Sandy GSW to limbs in a busy metro department, IE Newark orWashington DC are probably regularly taken to the trauma center by BLS only. Stablization is a BLS skill and recent studies of tactical medicine show that cspine precautions for penetrating trauma, unless there are nuero defecits, is not needed and could actually harm more than help. Bleeding control is BLS and fluid replacement is also not so much en vogue anymore. Until they allow us to give blood product prehospital two large bore IVs wide open is only making kool-aid and hindering the bodies ability to coauglate.
John Townsend John Townsend Friday, September 20, 2013 7:48:41 AM Scott, they were not on base for some time. I am the Chief that was the first medical on scene and who took charge of the Cas collection point.
Sandi Hand Scranton Sandi Hand Scranton Friday, September 20, 2013 8:23:38 AM I agree...just stating why the outside medics were probably not necessary.
John A. Bishop John A. Bishop Friday, September 20, 2013 10:19:24 AM Being a paramedic and working many years in an ambulance response zone that had many penetrating trauma situations, I have to disagree with BLS is good enough. First, Paramedics should be trained to a higher level of assessment and reassessment. They have the skills to control airway issues. And they have leadership training in many cases. On a personal level if I was shot I would want a Paramedic with me all the way to the trauma surgeon. Otherwise why staff the life flight trauma helicopters with paramedics and RN's. No in the code situation I agree most efforts lead to the same event.
Nathan Stanaway Nathan Stanaway Monday, September 23, 2013 9:02:39 AM John Townsend Did it take a long time to reach and transport the patients? Do you know if they stuck with the old wait for "secure" scene or did they have rapid access to patients?

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