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Texas Specialty Teams Bring EMS to Unique Scenes

HOUSTON (Houston Chronicle) - It's not just about ambulances at Cypress Creek Emergency Medical Services.

There is another side to emergency care that isn't often seen unless law enforcement officers or federal law enforcement authorities are conducting tactical operations.

Wren Nealy, director of special operations for Cypress Creek EMS, is a certified paramedic and a Texas peace officer who also serves as the assistant commander for SWAT for the Waller County Sheriff's Office.

"Typically, what we do is behind the scenes," Nealy said.

Tactical, Bike Teams

The special operations segment of Cypress Creek EMS, which has been in place since 1994, has tactical and bike medic teams.

The tactical medic teams consists of those EMS professionals who, unlike traditional EMS units, are usually in the thick of a fire fight.

"We bring good medicine to bad places," Nealy said.

"Cypress Creek EMS does not have a SWAT team. What we do have is a group of highly trained individuals who support a SWAT team."

The Cypress Creek Tactical Medic Team consists of 14 trained law enforcement officers who also are paramedics, and who have undergone extensive training in tactical operational medical support.

The tactical medic team trains extensively with the Houston Police Department and the FBI and has deployed several times in support of the FBI and other federal agencies, Nealy said.

A tactical medic team is needed because unlike a civilian ambulance team, it is trained to react under gunfire.

Specific Equipment

The team also has specific equipment to help them.

Bobby Sellers, CCEMS supervisor for special operations and Nealy's partner, said a small robot can be used to deliver supplies during hostage situations, or under heavy weapons fire.

Another piece of equipment, a golf cart loaded with a stretcher and medical supplies, can be used to get an injured officer, suspect or a K-9 officer out of harm's way, quickly.

"Where we shine is where we are able to provide that higher level of care, sort of like a nurse practitioner or physician assistant would," Sellers said.

"We are able to provide that expanded scope of care that most paramedics are not able to do.

"I don't want to be down the street two miles, like normal EMS, I want to be there in your back pocket, so if something happens, I can fix it."

While the tactical medic teams are specialized in what they do, so are other members of the CCEMS.

"The bike medics are very proactive, and they can usually start care before the call is issued, cutting the time in half," Sellers said.

"They are invaluable."

The bike teams are often used at community events, such as the Iron Man race in The Woodlands, as well as various golf tournaments and festivals.

Jim Young, a paramedic with CCEMS and a member of the bike medic team, said he does get approached a lot at these events, and often it has nothing to do with being sick or injured.

"I get a lot of bike enthusiasts," he said.

"But it's a great gig because you're not on the ambulance and you are right there with the public."

Joe Kiff, who has been a member since 2008, loves the independence of being on the bike medic team and having everything medically at his disposal that is found on an ambulance.

"We can work a cardiac arrest for a half hour before we need an ambulance.

"We can be independent for as long as it takes," Kiff said.

Want to learn more?

To learn more about the CCEMS Special Operations segment, go to www.ccems.com/special-operations/cypress-creek-tactical-medic-team/


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