Pro EMS recently upgraded the vehicle used as the Incident Support Unit (ISU), allowing the EMS providers to offer faster and more accessible service at fire scenes, major incidents, and special events. The features of the new ISU make it easier for individual providers to operate the truck and to access its equipment without assistance. In addition to providing rehab and support services, the ISU is activated for any mass casualty incident (MCI).
Pro EMS paramedic Nate Dubreuil has taken responsibility for overseeing the care and maintenance of the ISU, as well as training all Pro EMS field providers in using the vehicle.
“The primary purpose of the ISU is to provide medical rehab services for firefighters on an active scene,” said Dubreuil. “They have to take breaks from the fire, so they’ll come to our tent for water, energy drinks, snacks and medical monitoring. We check their heart rate and blood pressure, as well as oxygenation rate, carbon monoxide level, and address any complaints. Throughout the duration of an event, we’ll monitor the firefighter regularly in order to prevent the need for transporting them to a hospital.”
The ISU is stocked with a large tent that connects to a generator for inflation and interior lighting, and cooling chairs that have deep wells in the armrests so that firefighters can immerse their forearms in water, cooling their body temperature and reducing stress. Other items in the ISU include electric heaters, cooling fans and cots. Detail bags with basic supplies such as EPI pens, tourniquets, triage tags, and AEDs allow EMTs on scene to spread out away from the ISU itself and provide more effective triage and treatment of patients.
In addition to providing support to firefighters in all Pro EMS service areas, the ISU contains supplies that can help address needs of displaced families. The ISU carries blankets, sweatshirts, sweatpants and footwear of all different sizes. There is room in the truck for fire victims to change clothes and warm up (or cool down, depending on the season). A stock of comfort toys for children is also maintained on board. The care of pets is also covered with supplies of food, water bowls, and pet carriers.
The new ISU vehicle is larger than the previous truck, so it’s easier to organize the supplies and more items fit on board. Occasionally while restocking the truck, Dubreuil sees a way to reorganize the materials and make things even more accessible. Sometimes during deployment or training, someone suggests additions to the truck’s supplies based on experiences and actual needs at incidents.
“I like being part of the public safety arena,” says Dubreuil, whose father and grandfather were also involved in EMS and fire safety. “We see so many different situations every day and we never know what will happen on a particular day. It’s exciting and interesting.”