Stamford's Office of Public Safety participated in a training exercise at the 220 acre Mianus River Park on Saturday, December 7, 2013 in order to drill and run through scenarios as a way to test best practices, emergency response and procedures. The focus was for establishing unified command and responding to incidents involving lost/injured persons in a wilderness environment. The training exercise brought the Stamford Police Department (SPD), Stamford Fire Department (SFD), Stamford Emergency Medical Services (SEMS) and Stamford’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) together to participate in the exercise.
The exercise was comprised of two scenarios and lasted from 0800 hrs – 1200 hrs. The first scenario was to respond to and search for a missing and injured civilian lost somewhere in the park. The second scenario addressed assisting a missing and injured rescuer.
“Multiple departments and volunteers from the Office of Public Safety gathered to simulate a critical emergency response to different scenarios. Exercises like today, are vital to ensuring coordination, collaboration and communication during emergency incidents and to provide an understanding of how to better improve our emergency preparedness and response," said Ted Jankowski, the Director of Public Safety. “This was a great opportunity for all agencies to work together to develop the communications, procedures and teamwork necessary for complex incidents.”
The Stamford Police Department participated by utilizing several on duty members with their advanced technology in the Mobile Command Vehicle, a highly trained Canine Unit and their off road vehicle. The Stamford Police Department representative was the Incident Commander for the exercise and coordinated a unified command with representatives from Stamford’s Emergency Medical Service, the Stamford Fire Department and CERT.
Stamford’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) was instrumental in coordinating the exercise, and more than two dozen CERT members participated by providing a detailed team search of the 220 acre park. CERT Communications were supported by the CERT Communications Coordinator, in cooperation with the CERT liaison participating as part of unified command in the Mobile Command Vehicle. Chris Munger, the President of CERT and exercise facilitator stated, “The Stamford CERT is a group of extremely dedicated and trained volunteers who have been taking a more active volunteer role assisting with emergency preparedness projects in support of the Office of Public Safety.”
As the scenarios progressed and the injured victim was found, members of Stamford Emergency Medical Services (SEMS) utilized their Emergency Medical Cart - All Terrain (EMCAT) to respond to the victim’s location for medical attention. When operating in a wilderness environment the EMCAT crew works with the Stamford Fire Department and their Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV) for a coordinated response. The Stamford Fire Department UTV Unit, a specialty unit, is used by Firefighters to carry equipment necessary for the clearing of trails and to make the rescue a safe operation. The Firefighters manning the UTV assist SEMS as necessary in the treatment, packaging and removal of the victim. The SEMS EMCAT, manned with Paramedics, is equipped with immobilization and advanced life support equipment to provide immediate medical care for injured persons.
The EMCAT is one of the vehicles SEMS can deploy for special operations. These incidents are typically more complex to respond to than the day-to-day EMT & Paramedic calls. Examples include large events like parades, structural fires or other major incidents where an ambulance may be staged a great distance from the scene or anywhere access is limited or difficult, as was the case in today's scenarios.
Today's drill required a coordinated response by all as the responders and vehicles had to transverse some very difficult terrain. The highly skilled and trained Operators had to use their learned driving skills to ensure safe passage. SEMS with the SFD also deployed a new quick-release hitching system and SKED stretcher that facilitates removing injured persons without having to carry them, reducing the risk of injury to the rescue personnel and patients.
Once the injured victims were found, with the assistance of CERT members and first responders, the SKED was then guided out of the woods to a fire road and evacuated to a safe area where members of all agencies were staged. Ted Jankowski, the Director of Public Safety stated, "We accomplished what we set out to accomplish today, which was to exercise how responders communicate, collaborate and respond to a complicated search and rescue incident utilizing unified command. The exercise provided for a positive learning experience.”
Fact about SEMS EMCAT:
Stamford EMS purchased the EMCAT with grant funding provided by First County Bank in 2005. Since receiving the vehicle, also known as Unit 94, the vehicle is deployed approximately 30 times each year for rescues, major incidents and structural fires. It has also been called into Darien and Greenwich to assist with incidents in those communities. The unit carries a full complement of paramedic and medical support equipment.