On Saturday afternoon, while many EMS and fire first responders were off and enjoying the holiday weekend, EMS crews from Jersey City EMS and the Jersey City Fire Dept. were tasked with a tremendously challenging and emotional call when a member of the elite Navy Leapfrogs Parachute Team, 27-year-old Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Remington Peters was killed when his parachute failed to open during Memorial Day weekend/Fleet Week program over the Hudson River between Manhattan and Jersey City New Jersey.
Jersey City EMS crews and Jersey City Fire Dept. Marine rescue crews were dispatched at 12:21PM to Liberty State Park to recover and attempt to resuscitate the critically injured Navy SEAL.
Initial reports were that multiple parachutists were injured. Reports also came in of injured firefighters. Jersey City EMS dispatched a Tour Chief, field supervisor, three BLS Ambulances, and two paramedic units in addition to additional BLS units and United Rescue Citizen Responders, specially trained and equipped citizen responders, that were already on standby on the Jersey City side of the Hudson River.
On arrival, Jersey City EMS crews immediately prepared to receive the critically injured victim from United States Coast Guard patrol boat, and began resuscitation continued as the injured SEAL was brought to shore with the assistance of the Jersey City Fire Department and Jersey City Police Department Marine Units.
The crews of Medic 58 and Ambulance 11, along with a United Rescue Citizen Responder transported the critically injured Leapfrog member to Jersey City Medical Center where further resuscitative efforts were undertaken. Unfortunately, Peters was pronounced dead in the ED.
Three Jersey City Firefighters also suffered minor injuries during the incident and were also transported to Jersey City Medical Center.
This type of call is extremely challenging in many aspects. First, because it occurred on a holiday and at an event where family members from the Navy SEALs and the EMS/fire/police community were on hand to watch what started out as a spectacular and enjoyable event, but instead witnessed the tragic event as it unfolded.
Second, countless news outlets and thousands of bystanders watching the Memorial Day weekend event and took photos and video clips of the tragic accident.
The event was watched by millions of people throughout the world – as well as by the rescuers who watch events such as this – to try to understand what happened before they saw their patient. The fact that it was a high-profile patient from the elite Navy SEALs only added to the emotional toll on responders.
Jersey City EMS is no stranger to tragedies, having experienced the trauma of treating hundreds of patients evacuated from the World Trade Center to the Jersey City shores on 9/11. Because of this, Jersey City EMS has experience with the emotional after effect of these incidents.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the Navy SEAL as well as to all responders who had to handle this tremendously emotionally charged and challenging call.
In February of 2017, JEMS and the National EMS Management Association (NEMSMA) jointly created and announced a National Alliance on EMS resiliency that is supported by 13 other national emergency service organizations and industries to work collectively to bring EMS resiliency training to as many responders in the country as possible to better prepare them for these types of incidents.
The first national meeting of this Alliance will take place on June 12th in Washington DC hosted at a Department of Homeland Security (DHF) facility. Follow JEMS for a detailed report on this important initiative designed to reduce stress among emergency responders and lower the unacceptable suicide rate in our professional, thought to be 20% higher than the civilian suicide rate in the USA.
On Memorial Day, my good friend and EMS Pioneer Eugene Nagel, MD, who trained Miami firefighters as the first U.S. paramedics to use invasive techniques and portable defibrillators with telemetry in 1967, sent me a YouTube video (“Hymn to the Fallen” by John Williams) that memorializes all of our fallen veteran. We thought we’d add it here in memory of Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Peters and all of the veterans who have so selflessly given their lives in the pursuit of freedom for the United States. https://youtu.be/Omd9_FJnerY