Part one of a two-part series exploring the QPD Marine Unit EMS programs
Since July 1, 2015, Brewster Ambulance Service has been providing emergency 911 EMS service to the City of Quincy, MA. In addition to ALS and BLS ambulance transports, fire rehabilitation, aerial drone support, opioid abuse countermeasures and education, Smart911™, tactical response and community safety and wellness education, Brewster also supports the Quincy Police Marine Unit with specially-trained paramedics.
Being a coastal community, the Quincy Police Marine Unit (QMU) polices 26 miles of coastline and 25 square miles of coastal waters from the Neponset River to the Fore River including Quincy Bay. They have four boats for patrol, rescue, salvage, bridge and pier inspections. Brewster Ambulance paramedics support the QMU by augmenting their team with medical staff to provide medical care to the dive unit as well as the entire team's on-site medical needs.
For holiday celebrations that involve a higher concentration of boating and water activity, Brewster embeds a paramedic with full equipment and medications with the QMU. This is for transporting patients in the maritime environment and bringing them to a waiting ambulance which can treat them and transport them to a hospital.
The Quincy Police Marine Unit and dive team are also part of the Metropolitan Police Unit which comprises Metro SWAT and search teams so they can better support Metropolitan Law Enforcement Council (Metro LEC) towns.
The Brewster Ambulance team includes seven paramedics who are assigned to support the QMU team to provide for the general marine unit and dive team's health, for any problems the divers may have as well as for body drownings and evidence recovery.
Planning is Critical to Dive Success
The team and paramedics plan recovery dives and use technology to find the target and what is the plan for processing the body (or bodies) for evidence recovery. This preparation is a vital part of the medical plan and so that the appropriate equipment is used as well as access and egress points, as not everything is accessible. The weather is also a factor in the planning of any given dive. For evacuations, if something happens and the dive team is ten miles off shore, we can have a rescue boat available to keep the divers working and take them back to rescue.
Planning. It gets complicated. Some of your closest points may require the use of a helicopter. The QMU works collaboratively with neighboring town police departments for access and egress points, such as the team may leave from Quincy, but the recovery target may be right off Hull. In that case, the QMU gets in touch with the Hull Police Department for additional help in the form of a courtesy call ahead of time to inform them that the QMU will be operating in their area or that the team may be using it as a primary evacuation point.
A dynamic setting
The Brewster paramedics assigned to the QMU see a variety of cases working with the dive team. From emergency body and recovery, to some vessel recovery such as getting the serial numbers of sunken vessels or inspect for environmental impact. There is also bridge, hull and engine inspections on vessels for maintenance or to make sure there's no contraband on the vessel as it comes into the harbor.
For example, last summer there was a recent deployment where the teams went to the Town of Norwell to a dumping point for stolen vehicles in the river. The vehicles needed to be inspected, photographed and removed because they were causing a hazard to other vessels and people.
Providing Clinical Support to Remote areas
The overarching goal is to bring a team health environment to remote areas. So, bringing clinicians, supplies and medical equipment to an environment that's very remote and inaccessible for maintenance during an operation. In some cases, they are not as remote because they might be right off shore and we can have an ambulance standing by, where others the team is out on a couple of boats and there's nobody around for miles. Having the EMS care and expertise as well as medical supplies on scene assures the safety and well being of the dive team and those participating in the operation.
Official policy and purpose of QPD MUEMS
The QPD Marine Unit Emergency Medical Support unit is a select group of paramedics who train and deploy with the QPD regional police tactical team on special operations. The primary mission of QPD Marine Unit Emergency Medical Support is the physical wellbeing of the officers involved in these operations. Missions range in scope and intensity from missing person searches to the resolution of critical incidents involving armed barricaded individuals, hostage situations, or civil unrest.
With an average of 15 years experience and employed by Brewster Ambulance Service they have an integral role within the QPD team. QPD Marine Unit Emergency Medical Support paramedics are both certified as nationally registered EMT-paramedics well as in state of Massachusetts with credentials in basic trauma life support (BTLS), advanced trauma life support (ATLS), Fundamentals of critical care support (FCCS) pediatric advanced life support (PALS) and Neonatal advanced life support (NALS). Members also have backgrounds with the military, fire service, law enforcement and air medical programs within the local area.
Education for these paramedics includes continuous education and a 48 hour Advanced life support refresher, advanced cardiac life support (ACLS), cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) mandated by the DPH-OEMS. Some members also hold credentials in pediatric advanced life support (PALS), basic trauma life support (BTLS), and advanced trauma life support (ATLS).
The QPD Marine Unit Emergency Medical Support element is designed to enhance the tactical medical support for the local provider. In addition to that provide a consistent medical platform for QPD personnel despite the remote locations they may be deployed to. Under no circumstances should it overrule or replace the existing EMS system. QPD Marine Unit Emergency Medical Support will operate under the medical command as a specialty service as needed. The Marine Unit Emergency Medical Support will provide advanced life support medical care to all sick or injured parties involved within a zone of police activity that is not accessible to the local EMS provider regardless of their involvement in the situation. Local EMS and fire agencies remain responsible for the care and transportation of civilian casualties. QPD Marine Unit Emergency Medical Support continues to comply with the following DPH laws and regulations within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.