Metropolitan Boston EMS Council Region IV Awards Ceremony Honors Cambridge EMS Providers

Award Recipients Include Cambridge Firefighter and Dive Team Member And Professional Ambulance (Pro EMS) Director of Communications


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The Cambridge EMS system, which includes the Cambridge Fire Department, Professional Ambulance (Pro EMS), the Cambridge Police, Cambridge Emergency Communications and the Cambridge Public Health Department, is pleased to announce that several of its individual providers were honored at the annual Metropolitan Boston EMS Council Region IV awards ceremony. Cambridge Firefighter Jeff McGourty and Professional Ambulance (Pro EMS) Director of Communications Stacy Harren were two award recipients, along with Bruce Trefry of Emerson Hospital and Cambridge Health Alliance emergency department nurse Elaine Valerio posthumously.


Jeff McGourty, a Cambridge firefighter and member of the Fire Dive Team, received the ALS Provider award for his part in rescuing and treating a bridge construction worker who was injured while working underwater on the bridge’s support columns.


Stacy Harren, Director of Communications at Pro EMS in Cambridge, won the Telecommunicator of the Year award. Harren led Pro EMS to becoming the first and only ACE-accredited EMS dispatch center in Massachusetts. In her three years at Pro EMS, Harren has provided training, education, and quality assurance monitoring to ensure that Pro EMS meets the standards of protocol-driven EMD, lifesaving pre-arrival instructions, and zero minute response times.


“Stacy has been a constant presence working to improve our Emergency Medical Dispatch function. Stacy has worked hard to serve as the first link in the chain in the EMS system by providing EMD and coordination during all responses,” said Bill Mergendahl, CEO of Pro EMS.


Bruce Trefry was recognized as an outstanding EMS administrator with the EMS Leader award. During his 30 year tenure at Emerson, Trefry served as field paramedic and Chief of Paramedic Service before becoming the current EMS Liaison.


“Bruce has worked tirelessly to improve patient care and safety while always keeping the needs of his patients and field providers as the top priorities,” said Mergendahl.


Although she passed away in November 2012, Elaine Valerio was recognized as EMS Nurse of the Year at this year’s award ceremony. Valerio was employed by the Cambridge Health Alliance for the past five years. She provided support, training and professional insight to every EMS field provider she encountered in her work.


“Elaine was an outstanding nurse dedicated to EMS and its providers. We were fortunate to have such an outstanding resource and friend as an EMS nurse,” said Mergendahl. “She loved to teach and that came through clearly to every paramedic student who visited her ER.”


The MBEMSC awards recognize the accomplishments of emergency medical services (EMS) providers who have made significant contributions within Region IV, which is comprised of 62 cities and towns in the Metropolitan Boston area. During this year’s award ceremony, which took place on November 7, 2013, Pro EMS produced a special video tribute to the first responders who treated victims at the Boston Marathon when two bombs exploded near the finish line last April.



About Metropolitan Boston Emergency Medical Services Council

The Metropolitan Boston Emergency Medical Services Council, Inc. (MBEMSC) is the agency designated by the DPH to coordinate the delivery of emergency medical services within the sixty-two cities and towns comprising the Metropolitan Boston Area. The Region IV area, which extends north as far as Wilmington and Littleton, west as far as Marlborough and Hopkinton, and south as far as Wrentham and Hanover, serves as residence to over 2 million people, and accounts for close to 1 million emergency department visits in the
Region’s hospitals each year. There are 70 licensed ambulance services and 25 acute care hospitals in the Region IV area.
About Professional Ambulance Service

Professional Ambulance Service (Pro EMS) provides emergency medical services to the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts in conjunction with the Cambridge Fire, Police, Emergency Communications and Public Health Departments. Additionally, Pro EMS operates Emerson Paramedics and provides emergency medical services to Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Professional Ambulance has proudly served the citizens, students, and visitors of Cambridge for over 40 years. For more information, visit or call 617.492.2700.



The Wall Street Journal: At Boston Hospitals, Ordinary Day Turns to Pandemonium

Dr. Abdul Kader Tabbara, a neurosurgery fellow at Boston Medical Center, was wrapping up appointments with patients in his clinic Monday afternoon when colleagues began streaming into the office, talking about explosions.
There was a lot of blood, they were saying. And a lot of wounded. And they were coming to his hospital.
Dr. Tabbara, a 28-year-old from Ann Arbor, Michigan, heard the sirens and went to the window: ambulances were lined up in front of the emergency room, and as quickly as one left, another arrived.
He made his way to the emergency room, his pager already thrumming.
“All the beds were taken. Stretchers were lining the walls. You could see surgeons from different teams waiting for the next victim to come in. Sheets were soaked with blood, patients were crying and screaming,” Dr. Tabbara said.
Seven of the 23 victims taken to the hospital from the scene of Monday’s Boston Marathon bombing arrived in critical condition, Peter Burke, the chief of Trauma at Boston Medical Center, said Tuesday, having sustained “multiple traumatic amputations, vascular injuries and some abdominal injuries.” Two patients lost both their legs, he said. As of Wednesday afternoon, 18 remained hospitalized and two were in critical condition, including a 5-year old boy who sustained severe lung damage.
Dr. Tabbara, the neurosurgeon, looked around and found his patient: a man in his early 20s on a stretcher, with blood covering his chest from a head wound. His hair smelled singed; the man had been on fire.
The man was a runner. He told Dr. Tabbara he had just finished the race and was waiting for a family member or a friend to finish when he was caught “very close” to the explosion. The man was knocked off his feet, and he got up and “just started to run, and he noticed his sweatshirt was on fire and he ripped that off,” Dr. Tabbara said.
The man didn’t stop running until he got to a medical tent, Dr. Tabbara said.
A brain scan showed the man had a complex laceration to his scalp, and a ball bearing embedded in his temple—but it hadn’t penetrated his skull. He had another ball bearing embedded in his nose.
Police officers sprang into action near a Boston Marathon runner.
The man was taken into surgery, where Dr. Tabbara scrubbed in and assisted another surgeon removing the ball bearing from the man’s temple. Dr. Tabbara said his phone rang and he asked a nurse to answer—it was Dr. Tabbara’s wife anxious to know if he was OK. “Tell her I’m OK,” Dr. Tabbara said he instructed the nurse.
Dr. Tabbara and the medical team cleaned the man’s head lacerations and removed the ball bearing from his temple. They left the operating room so a team of ear, nose and throat specialists could remove the ball bearing embedded in the man’s nose.
Dr. Tabbara then plunged back into the emergency room, helping where he could and checking on his patient, deep into the night.
More than 170 patients were treated at at least seven hospitals, some of them with minor injuries.
Paul Biddinger, chief of emergency preparedness at Massachusetts General Hospital, was part of the medical support team stationed at “heartbreak hill” near mile 20 of the marathon. As word of the bombings spread, he raced to the hospital and found the response well under way. Thirty patients who had been in the emergency department were transferred upstairs to make room for those wounded in the bombing. Trauma surgeons, orthopedic surgeons, nurses, respiratory therapists were standing by.
Two of the patients taken to Massachusetts General Hospital were near death. Their mangled legs were destroyed, with bones hanging by shreds of muscle and skin. Blood flowed profusely. Many had suffered massive wounds and burns.
Mass General says four of the patients remained in critical condition Wednesday, though none are expected to die.
Most of the patients were in shock, said Dr. George Velmahos, the hospital’s chief trauma surgeon. The hospital had to start amputating legs, completing four within a few hours. “Amputating wasn’t a hard decision,” Dr. Velmahos said.
Dr. Velmahos said the hospital—from its janitors to highest management—had prepared for such an event, with ample blood supply and materials for an influx of near-death patients. The hospital had finished trauma drills before with mannequins, and several of the doctors, including Dr. Velmahos, have worked in war-torn countries.
Dr. Alasdair Conn, chief of emergency medicine, praised Boston’s EMTs for equitably spreading patients across the city and not deluging any trauma center with too many critical patients.
Bill Mergendahl, Chief Executive of Cambridge-based ProEMS, which sent six ambulances to the scene Monday in Boston, said his fleet transported patients with “traumatic amputations,” the medical term for the accidental severing of all or part of a body part.
“There was a lot of quick good work done by people first on the scene with tourniquets to stop bleeding before we got there, which was fortunate for the victims,” he said. Heavy blood loss can cause a condition known as hypovolemic shock, in which severe blood and fluid loss make the heart unable to pump enough blood into the body and cause organs to shut down.
The day after the bombings, “things were calmer” at Boston Medical Center and Dr. Tabbara visited with his young patient, who was able to speak and had been reunited with his family and friends.
He had facial swelling, but was in good condition, Dr. Tabbara said. He is unlikely to suffer brain damage, but there is the potential for nerve damage.
“He was grateful,” he said.
Dr. Tabbara says he is grateful, too, for some good news.
“This is a great city, it’s just a shame this happened,” Dr. Tabbara said,
–Melinda Beck, Lisa Fleisher, Joshua Dawsey and Laura Landro
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