Only in Texas
Many EMS agencies now have bike teams, but MedStar in Fort Worth, Texas, is likely the first with horse teams.
"Several EMTs and paramedics at MedStar have horses, and we decided we wanted to have fun get-togethers and apply our skills," says Jon Puryear, NREMT-P, assistant to the MedStar medical director and president of the MedStar Mounted EMS Team (MEMST).
The MEMST has 15 riding members, 10 non-riding members and five open slots for non-riding members (who ride other members_ horses or serve as "horse handlers").
They work in teams of three (a paramedic and an EMT on horses, plus a horse handler) at rodeos and special events. Team members participate in the program in addition to their regular shifts, but get paid for their time (even for monthly training events).
"They respond to the scene much like a bike team would, dismount, and use the [ALS and BLS] equipment they carry in their saddlebags to initiate treatment," says MedStar_s Operations Director Matt Zavadsky. "The horse handler literally holds the horses while the EMT and paramedic initiate medical care."
Puryear says, "We provide EMS for all 34 rodeos during the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, which lasts almost four weeks in January and February. And since November, we_ve also worked six three-day weekend high school rodeos, plus the March of Dimes marathon and walk."
Usually, an ambulance accompanies a teamƒexcept when a team is providing EMS for a trail ride.
"On one trail ride, we were 30 miles out and had to call a helicopter for a lady who broke her back," Puryear says.
When asked if he knew of any other EMS horse teams, Zavadsky replied, "Nopeƒor should I say, ÂNeeeeeigh._"
What a great example of customizing service to meet local needsƒwhile promoting both EMS and teamwork!
Speaking of Horsing Around Ú
Someone posted a video on the Internet in early March of three on-duty employees of Lakewood (N.J.) EMS doing donuts and spinning on a snow-covered parking lot in an ambulance and a supervisor_s vehicle. When the Asbury Park Press reported on the story, some readers called for the drivers_ headsƒor at least their jobs (although some just said, "Lighten up!").
Shortly before a March 22 township meeting where the issue was discussed, Lakewood Mayor Robert Singer told the press, "Not only did they put our vehicles at risk, they put themselves at risk." But after the meeting he said no one would be fired and that the Lakewood EMS manager and township attorneys would decide how to discipline the offendersƒwhose names he refused to release. We think the unnamed culprits deserve at least a Thumbs Down. Although no damage was done to the vehiclesƒfortunatelyƒthis risky stunt with expensive public equipment damaged the service_s reputation and the public_s confidence in its EMTs.
A Good Translation
The Spanish National Honor Society at Jackson High School in Massillon, Ohio, needed a community service project to fulfill class requirements. Brennan Hamilton, a senior at Jackson, had heard stories from his grandfather (an officer in the fire department) about the Jackson Fire Department EMT/firefighters_ difficulties communicating with the area_s Latino population. So, Hamilton approached his Spanish teacher and chapter sponsor Parthena Draggett with the idea of offering rudimentary Spanish lessons to fire department personnel.
Draggett thought it sounded like a great idea. So did Chief Ted Heck. He says there have been a few instances when the rescuers couldn_t communicate with citizens. He sees that as a "taste of what_s coming" and wants to be prepared. Draggett estimates that about 1Ï2% of the city_s 45,000-person population is Latino. Some of those residents may know English but can have trouble communicating in their second language under stress.
Draggett says the students were initially nervous about teaching adults, and Heck says his people felt some trepidation about the project. The first meeting between the EMTs and their students was to determine what the rescuers needed to know. It was scheduled for an hourƒit lasted about two.
Twice a week, the 20 participating students individually meet with two or three EMTs for half an hour. The students plan to create such learning tools as CDs, pictures of the human body with Spanish labels and what the EMTs refer to as "cheat sheets" to carry in the field.
Facilitating communication between the Latino population and fire department personnel certainly looks like the perfect community service project for the Spanish-language students. We applaud their imagination and the fire department_s eagerness to participate.
NYC Disses 9/11 Responders
New York City government recently asked a judge to dismiss claims by 4,600 EMTs, paramedics, firefighters and police officers who responded to the World Trade Center on 9/11. According to theNew York Post, the city argued that New York state labor laws exempt "uniformed" personnel from workplace protection.
The judge should rule on that motion this month. Let_s hope he agrees with us that it_s the city_s request that should be dismissed.JEMS