The safety and welfare for more than 200 students and 800 federal and contract employees throughout the week is no easy task. SMRC is up to the challenge.
The medical support services staff is made up of a project manager, deputy project manager and a quality manager, as well as four medical lab technicians, 10 full-time paramedics, a nurse practitioner and a physician who serves as the EMS medical director.
Medical lab technicians Jackie Morgan, Marilyn Myles, Barbie Howard and Tina Northard operate the CDP Cholinesterase laboratory. All are skilled at collecting blood specimens from students who will and have entered the live-agent environment. They also analyze the blood to ensure that there was no inadvertent exposure to live nerve agent during the course of training, said SMRC Project Manager Thomas Buzan.
“On average, we do about 120-150 samples a week in support of the courses,” said Morgan.
Nurse Practitioner Mindy O’Bryant and Dr. William Bohannon consult with the medical staff whenever assistance is required over the course of caring for a patient, added Buzan. Examples include paramedics contacting Bohannon as part of the patient-care process to receive medical orders or contacting O’Bryant due to a student’s vital signs being out of the normal range for students intending to wear personal protective equipment during training.
The paramedics provide full-service medical support to students and staff at the CDP. Their duties include surveillance of training operations, vital-signs assessment before and after PPE is worn, palliative-care assessment and management (over-the-counter medication distribution and minor-wound care) and life-saving, emergency treatment of medical and trauma-related illnesses and injuries.
Working closely together is beneficial in creating a team atmosphere but it seems to be more than that for the medical staff.
“We really think of each other as family, our work family,” said Derick Reaves, a full-time paramedic.
Knowing everyone and how they operate makes for an effective and cohesive working environment better suited to the needs of the patients.
“We work really well together because we know each other so well,” said Morgan. “We can anticipate each other’s needs and assist them wherever possible.”
“Aside from the challenges faced by all emergency workers – environmental hazards, emergency driving conditions and other operational challenges – paramedics at the CDP perform a hazard assessment on each student who trains at the CDP,” said Buzan.
By considering where they are from (i.e. extremely cold climate), as well as other health-related risk variables, the department realizes a better strategic and tactical approach to all-inclusive patient care, added Buzan.
“One of the biggest challenges, for me is seeing so many new faces every week,” said Reaves. “It’s wonderful to interact with people from all across the country and the world that are from numerous different (emergency response) disciplines.”
To make sure students and employees have the best care all paramedics are active members of the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians and are fully-licensed by the State of Alabama.
It’s not just excellent training keeping the paramedics at the top of their game, but excellent equipment, as well, Buzan said.
“CDP paramedics – part of the Medical Support Services team –have recently taken delivery of two brand-new ambulances as part of a plan to replace the aging fleet that has been in service since about 2003,” said Buzan. “Both new ambulances are equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including temperature-controlled medication storage compartments, backup/rearview cameras and cab monitors, digital oxygen delivery monitoring and delivery devices, LED lighting and much more.”
The ambulances have been equipped with some of the best medical equipment on the market today, said Buzan.
The ambulances are also equipped with a cutting-edge technology known as DEF that ensures much lower diesel exhaust emissions, making them safer for the environment. They are very roomy inside, which allows the paramedics plenty of room to move around and provide the highest quality of care possible to those experiencing medical or traumatic emergencies, added Buzan.
“Medical Support Services is proud to provide highly-trained paramedics who have the best equipment available at their disposal,” added Buzan. “These new ambulances allow our paramedics to maintain an even higher standard of care to CDP students, visitors and staff.”
Buzan also extended an invitation to the CDP staff. “The paramedics would be delighted to show off the new ambulances,” Buzan said. “If you are nearby any of the medical rooms or see medical support staff patrolling the hallways, please do not hesitate to ask for a VIP tour.”