EMT’s join police force for faster injury treatment
5 EMS workers will be able to help victims immediately as Colonie police implement a team policy sparked by Columbine
By Tim O'Brien Times Union
COLONIE, N.Y. – Members of the town's Emergency Medical Services division will become part of the police team that responds to urgent calls in the hope anyone injured could be treated more swiftly.
Five EMS workers will join the town police's Special Services team, similar to the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams other agencies use. A resolution approving the change is on the Town Board agenda for 7 p.m. Thursday.
For many years, police departments required that buildings be cleared first before medical workers could be brought in to assist the wounded, Colonie Police Chief Steven Heider said.
That all changed after two students opened fire at Colorado's Columbine High School in 1999, and a teacher died after waiting hours for treatment, Heider said.
Since then, police agencies have been changing their policies in order to get help more quickly.
"Response then was you clear the whole building," Heider said. "Now if there is an active shooter, you go in and chase the shooter. (EMS workers) are much farther into what we refer to as the war zone. As areas get cleared, the people who have been injured can get treated."
Albany and Schenectady already deploy medical personnel with their special teams, Heider said.
Peter Berry, Colonie's EMS deputy chief, said the five people selected are assistant chiefs Paul Sink and Jack Bevilaqua and medics Oscar LaRosa, Pat Mellon and Robbie MacCue, who also work with State Police on medical flights. They are among 80 Colonie EMS workers.
"Our guys went through an extensive process," Berry said. They were given an agility test and interviewed by police.
"We have some very highly skilled, highly trained folks who fly with the New York State Police helicopter program," he said. "There is some risk involved so it is strictly voluntary."
|McClatchy-Tribune News Service|