Save a Life, Save A Heart Teams Up with Cambridge EMS

2016-05-15 19.47.10

Save A Life, Save A Heart Teams Up with the EMS Systems of the City of Cambridge, MIT and Harvard Universities to Provide Community CPR Training at Brattle Plaza in Cambridge

  • Save A Life, Save A Heart is a national public health education initiative started in 2015 by Shivangi Goel, a junior at MIT
  • Free Hands-Only CPR Training will be held on Saturday May 14, 2016 from 11:30 am – 1:30 pm

Cambridge, MA (May 10 2016) – Save A Life, Save A Heart (SALSAH) is a national public health education initiative that was started by an MIT student, which has teamed up with EMS providers for the City of Cambridge, MIT and Harvard Universities to provide free CPR training to the community on Saturday, May 14th.

Members of SALSAH, Cambridge Police and Fire Departments, Professional Ambulance (Pro EMS) as well as emergency medical personnel from MIT and Harvard will be teaching the lifesaving “hands-only” CPR technique at Brattle Plaza in Cambridge from 11:30 am-1:30 pm.

The event aims to raise awareness about the importance of learning this skill since according to the American Heart Association, those who die from heart attacks often do so because they don’t receive immediate CPR from someone on the scene. CPR is easy to learn with the new hands-only protocols, which emphasize maintaining a cardiac rhythm and quickly getting professional help.

SALSAH ( is a grassroots public health education initiative created by Shivangi Goel, a junior at MIT who has been a certified EMT since the age of 16. SALSAH provides free training in CPR and Basic Life Support Skills, such as Airway Management, to high school and college students, communities, and local organizations. Since enrolling at MIT, Goel has taken SALSAH nationwide and has established branches at MIT, Stanford, Washington University (MO), and other universities.  Goel also has plans to expand overseas. This summer, she is going to Mexico for five weeks to teach CPR to college students, and then will continue her education outreach in Singapore and China.

“I founded SALSAH after discovering that most states in the U.S. do not teach CPR and other life-saving techniques in public schools,” said Goel. “Effective bystander CPR can increase survival of heart attack patient by three times. By increasing public education in hands-only CPR and other life-saving techniques, we can give people the tools needed to play an active role in the health and safety of their community.”

The timing of this event also coincides with Stroke Awareness month, an effort by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association during the month of May to support and promote education about stroke symptoms and care. SALSAH is hoping its community initiatives will help to make it easier for individuals to assess these types of emergent health situations. In addition to CPR, people can also consider learning how to use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), compression techniques, and how to get involved in early cardiac arrest intervention.

“We are excited to work with SALSAH and all of the public agencies in the City of Cambridge to bring this education to as many people as possible,” said Danielle Rabickow, Director of Community Initiatives for Pro EMS. “It’s important that we’re able to go out into the community to help increase and improve survival of sudden cardiac arrest.”

For more information about the community education and training offered by Pro EMS and the Center for MEDICS, please visit

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 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.

Cambridge Fire Department Receives American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline EMS Silver Award

Read this on the City of Cambridge website, or WickedLocal/Cambridge.

Cambridge, May 15, 2015 — Cambridge Fire Department, along with PRO EMS of Cambridge, have jointly received the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline®EMS Silver Award for implementing quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who experience severe heart attacks.

Every year, more than 250,000 people experience a STEMI, or ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction, a type of heart attack caused by a complete blockage of blood flow to the heart that requires timely treatment. To prevent death, it’s critical to restore blood flow as quickly as possible, either by surgically opening the blocked vessel or by giving clot-busting medication.

Unfortunately, a significant number don’t receive this prompt treatment. Mission: Lifeline seeks to save lives by closing the gaps that separate STEMI patients from timely access to appropriate treatments. Mission: Lifeline’s EMS recognition program recognizes emergency responders for their efforts in improving STEMI systems of care and improving the quality of life for these patients.


Emergency Medical System providers are vital to the success of Mission: Lifeline. EMS agencies provide access to 12-lead ECG machines (devices that measures the electrical activity of the heartbeat and can help medical personnel determine if a heart attack has occurred), and follow protocols derived from American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology guidelines. The correct tools and training allow EMS providers to rapidly identify the STEMI, promptly notify the medical center, and trigger an early response from the awaiting hospital personnel.

Agencies that receive the Mission: Lifeline Silver award have demonstrated at least 75 percent compliance for each required achievement measure for the entire year, and treat at least eight STEMI patients for the year.

“EMTs and paramedics play a vital part in the system of care for those who have heart attacks,” said Nancy Brown, Chief Executive Officer of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. “Since they often are the first medical point of contact, they can shave precious minutes of life-saving treatment time by activating the emergency response system that alerts hospitals.  We applaud Cambridge Fire Department and PRO EMS for achieving this award that shows they meet evidence-based guidelines in the treatment of people who have severe heart attacks.”

“Cambridge Fire Department and PRO EMS are dedicated to making our units among the best in the country, and the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline program is helping us accomplish that by implementing processes for improving STEMI systems of care with the goal of improving the quality of care for all STEMI patients,” said Cambridge Fire Chief Gerry Reardon. “We are pleased to be recognized for our dedication and achievements in emergency medical care for STEMI patients.”

For more information contact Assistant Chief Gerard Mahoney, Phone: 617-349-4970

About Mission: Lifeline  

The American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline program helps hospitals and emergency medical services develop systems of care that follow proven standards and procedures for STEMI patients. The program works by mobilizing teams across the continuum of care to implement American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology clinical treatment guidelines.  For more information, visit: lifeline


SPECIAL REPORT — Acton and Boxborough police and firefighters tackle opiate problem


By Molly Loughman

March 26. 2015 4:00PM


When officers arrive to a medical emergency involving an overdose, it usually means the person is unconscious, according to Acton Police Department Sgt. Edward Lawton, a 22-year veteran of the department and a member of the its drug unit, formed in October 2012.


Lawton said the unconscious person’s history as a drug user is usually revealed by friends, family or neighbors on the scene. Traces of drug abuse are also typically visible at the scene around the unconscious individual, including drugs, syringes or spoons.


“They don’t have time to put it away. They’re usually right in the middle of an injection or whatever, they go,” said Lawton.


Before the EMS service arrives to transport the person to the hospital, offices can administer Narcan in an attempt to reverse the effect of the overdose, unless it’s a sudden death, said Lawton.


“Sometimes they can be violent — mad because we took them out of their high. It can be tricky situation, but they’re alive,” said Acton Fire Department Lt. Christopher Sammet.


After the fire department arrives, police examine potential causes of the overdose by treating the area as a crime scene situation to preserve any evidence. When there is a sudden death, an investigation is ensued to find where the drugs came from, said Lawton.


Across Massachusetts, the total number of unintentional opioid overdose deaths increased from 2,759 in 2003 to 2007 to 2,957 from 2008 to 2012. Many smaller communities saw increases between the two time periods, according to an April 2014 report from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.


Out of Acton’s 40 calls for assistance involving reported overdoses from Jan. 1, 2012, through February 2015, in all cases the party was transported to the hospital, except for five who died. Some of the overdoses were intentional, according to data from the Acton Police Department. Last year, APD began monitoring its medical calls that involved overdoses, which involved going through the police logs three years back.


Overdose calls in Acton included sleep medication, cough suppressants, Ibuprofen, Ritalin, Adderall, Klonopin, alcohol, Ecstasy, heroin, Clonidine, Xanax, medications and opioids.


“Now if I read something about a possible overdose, if the officer hasn’t written a report, I’ll ask him to follow up and write a report on it, so we’re trying to track it better,” said Deputy Police Chief Rich Burrows, adding that there may have been more overdoses in 2012, but because the report comes in as a medical call, it’s not easily identifiable as a typical police report. “Depending on who you talk to sometimes, around the holiday times — Thanksgiving, Christmas — tend to get harder for some people.”


There were seven overdoses last November in Acton, according to police. From the last overdose in November 2014 through those in February, there have been four saves from the Acton Fire Department (AFD) using Narcan (naloxone), a medicine that reverses an opioid overdose. Burrows noted that Quincy has seen significant Narcan saves since it was one of the first communities in the state to acquire the device.


Due to an increase in overdoses, Acton police acquired Narcan devices last January for its police cruisers. The Acton Fire Department has been using Narcan since September, according to Fire Chief Patrick Futterer.


“You can take someone that’s unresponsive, low pulse, barely breathing and turn them around talking within minutes. It’s been amazing. I didn’t think we’d see as many calls as we did,” said fire Lt. Christopher Sammet.


Acton is taking over as the emergency medical service (EMS) provider in town for advanced life support, which will involve training all 42 Acton firefighters/EMS personnel, who are currently trained to use Narcan, as paramedics in the next year.


In one recent situation in Acton, a man overdosed in his car and one of his co-workers, who had Narcan on hand, administered it. The man came to consciousness and was transported to the hospital. More people, including parents and heroin users, are acquiring Narcan perspirations to save their child or each other from overdosing, said Burrows.


“If they’re unconscious, you tend to want to think, especially at such a young age, that they’ve overdosed,” said Lawton, noting that opiates have been the leading cause of overdoses, except for some prescription medicines, which are less frequent.


“And in a certain percentage of them, we recognize the person from prior dealings. So we hear a specific name that they’re unconscious, that could be the first thing we think of — that they overdosed,” said Lt. Jim Cogan, with Acton Police Department for 32 years.


While some purposefully overdose, others are dealt different or stronger quality heroin than they’re used to. The purity is unknown, said Burrows.


“You roll up to what appears to be a healthy 25-year-old, a healthy 30-year-old, they’re not usually just dropping for no reason,” said Burrows, noting some people begin overdosing after receiving pain medication from an injury at work. “They get hooked on the pain medication; they can’t afford the pain medication, and so they move to heroin because it’s cheaper. I’ve had a couple of those in my career.”


Since joining the Acton police in the 1990s, Lawton recalls heroin was always present, but cocaine was popular. Now heroin is back and more vibrant than anything, he said, noting it may be the cheapest drug available, along with some pills.


To be proactive in preventing drug use, people inform Acton’s drug unit about possible drug distributors. Heroin is becoming increasingly less pure with the use of one common additive, fentanyl, a powerful painkiller that when combined with heroin creates a deadly mixture, said Detective Dean Keeler, a member of the drug unit.


“We look into ever tip that comes in,” said Lawton, who along with Keeler investigates drug activity around town in unmarked vehicles. “Nine out of 10 times, usually what you see is usually right on target of what drug activity is. It gets harder and harder because as the word gets out and an investigation is successful, nobody wants to put themselves in a situation, so they go more covert. It’s everywhere, it really is.”


Individuals with drugs often use town borders to elude investigators, said Burrows, explaining as a result, the police department collaborates with surrounding police departments to address the opiate epidemic.


“Opiate use seems a lot more active now than it was three or four years ago. I don’t think there’s any one particular description of an opiate user. They don’t have a certain profile,” said Lawton. “(Heroin) is a tough drug to beat, the addiction’s strong. It’s a highly addictive drug and that’s what’s driving all of it.”


Out of the 40 calls for assistance involving reported overdoses from Jan. 1, 2012, to February 2015 in Acton, the ages of those who overdosed ranged from ages 15 to 70 and included both males and females.


“It’s all levels of socioeconomics; it has no boundaries,” said Keeler, who added that a legitimate prescription for an opiate is often what starts opiate addiction. “Once the prescription is over, the addiction isn’t. They might start by buying pills on streets, but those are expensive. If they can’t stop, it’s only a matter of time.”


According to Boxborough Police Chief Warren Ryder, in the last year, Boxborough police have responded to six overdoses, with no deaths. Overdose victims have been white males between the ages of 17 and 32, and in one case was a 19-year-old female. However, Ryder said opiate addiction and abuse has no boundaries when it comes to demographics and backgrounds.


“We did notice an increase in the younger side of the spectrum when prescription pills were more available. Now that pills are harder to get and more expensive, we are seeing more heroin on the streets,” said Ryder, noting the Boxborough Police Department has detectives assigned to regional task forces that work in teams to investigate narcotic distribution. “We aggressively pursue the source and provide help to those who have fallen into addictive patterns. We work with the Ayer District Court and strongly support treatment in lieu of punishment.”


Boxborough police are usually the first responder to a medical call, along with the Boxborough Fire Department and Pro EMS paramedics, who are prepared to respond with Narcan. Boxborough police and fire departments have carried Narcan for a year, according to Ryder, who believes in the vigorous enforcement of the drug laws and public education on heroin use and opioid abuse.


Police officers are trained to recognize the signs of opiate abuse and overdose, as well as how to provide emergency care to those experiencing an overdose. They also provide advice and resources to anyone suspected of abusing drugs. Those in Boxborough who suspect drug activity can call the police or send email to to report any suspected drug activity.


In the last 20 years, more drugs have been made available to area juveniles, who have often used marijuana since its decriminalization, along with synthetic drugs. Heroin users are more common among those 18 or older, said Keeler.


Keeler said it takes around a year before the addict moves from buying pills to eventually using heroin. The person tends to be honest with police once they’re drug abuse is revealed, he said, but prior to that, they’re not always open about their addiction with friends and family. If heroin is at the scene of a 911 medical call, state law says no one can be charged with the possession of the heroin if one of the people at the scene was the 911 caller, Keeler said.


It could also take a year to rehabilitate an opiate addict, said Keeler, who thinks the state should further its efforts in supplying treatment options for drug addicts to end the epidemic. Concord’s Drug Court addresses the opiate addition issue on a local level.


“You always lay out their options for them, try to point them in the right direction and that’s about all I can do,” said Keeler. “It always comes down to what they decide to do if they’re ready to make a change or not.”



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

Professional Ambulance (Pro EMS) IT Department Recognized for Contributions to Region’s Technical Infrastructure


Cambridge, MA (November 2014) – Several members of the Cambridge EMS System were recognized at the Metropolitan Boston EMS Council (MBEMSC) Region IV awards ceremony on November 6. Awards were presented to Cambridge Fire Chief Gerald Reardon and Pro EMS Director of IT Tim Harren and Network Administrator Michael Dula. Also recognized were Margaret Buckley, MS, RN, ACNS-BC, clinical specialist in emergency nursing, and Dr. Jordan Wagner, Doctor of Osteopathy, both of Cambridge Health Alliance, as well as Danielle Thomas and Carl Rabickow of Pro EMS.


Cambridge Fire Department Chief Reardon was given the EMS Leader Award, which is presented to an individual EMS administrator who is a leader in EMS and serves as a role model for other EMS administrators throughout the region. Chief Reardon has been involved in EMS for over three decades and has made significant contributions and improvements to the healthcare and response system in Cambridge. Chief Reardon has worked tirelessly to provide extensive training, tools and equipment to Cambridge paramedics. He succeeded in bringing the Cambridge Fire Department to the ALS level, providing the highest level of EMS to Cambridge, and led the department to become one of only a few ISO Class 1 Fire Departments in the United States and the only one in Massachusetts.


Derrick Congdon, Executive Director of MBEMSC, presented the awards and spoke about each recipient’s contributions and efforts.


“Chief Reardon’s unwavering and continued support for many of the programs and endeavors over the years that have been brought forward for the betterment of the Region IV EMS system,” Congdon said of the Fire Chief. “The development of the Cambridge Fire Department as a nationally recognized agency that represents excellence has been accomplished by the virtue of the chief’s vision and leadership over the years.”


The Regional Director’s Award that was presented to Tim Harren and Mike Dula is given to honor an individual, foundation or service organization that provides exceptional support to EMS activities in Region IV. Tim and Mike undertook a significant project in transitioning the regional office’s technical infrastructure to an updated environment that provides increased efficiency and security.


In his remarks, Congdon noted that Harren and Dula were professional and knowledgable. “They sat in our office and studied what we currently had for technology, and were able to put together a clear plan to help the Region become more efficient in how we deal with access to files, email, protection and remote access. Throughout the entire process, they kept us informed of their progress and were always willing to provide straight answers to our questions,” said Congdon. “When the day came to switch over completely to the new system, Tim and Mike were there to make sure it worked seamlessly.”


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.


Upgrades to Incident Support Unit (ISU) Allow for Easier Provision of Services to Firefighters and Communities


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.”



Pro EMS and Center for MEDICS Recognized for Participation in National Acute Stroke Registry and Training of Medical Students and Residents


Cambridge, MA (June 2014) – On June 19, representatives from Pro EMS and Center for MEDICS received special honors for pre-hospital stroke notification and medical student training. Pro EMS was recognized by the Massachusetts Coverdell Foundation, a chapter of the Paul Coverdell National Acute Stroke Registry, for being the highest performer for pre-hospital stroke notification for a large service area, and Center for MEDICS received an award of thanks from the Cambridge Health Alliance for regular training provided to Harvard Medical School students and residents.


During the period of January 2011 through December 2013, Pro EMS paramedics reported all pre-hospital stroke patient encounters to the Massachusetts chapter of the Paul Coverdell National Acute Stroke Registry (PCNASR). Funded by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the state of Massachusetts, in addition to several other states, established a reporting model to gather information from pre-hospital encounters with stroke victims to help improve patient outcomes.award


The CDC established PCNASR on a directive from Congress, and named the program after the late U.S. Senator Paul Coverdell of Georgia, who suffered a fatal stroke in 2000 while serving in Congress. Each year, more than 700,000 Americans suffer from a stroke. Strokes are fatal for one-quarter of its victims, while a similar number remain permanently disabled afterwards. The PCNASR aims to improve the quality of care for acute stroke patients and increase public awareness of stroke treatment and prevention.


Once a month, Center for MEDICS hosts Harvard Medical School students and residents for training in a variety of skills, including simulation, IV starts, I/O access, and more. Since these training sessions are the same ones given to paramedic students at Center for MEDICS, the patient transfer process is much smoother because both parties – paramedic and ER/hospital staff – have the same expectations and knowledge.



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 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 35 years. For more information, visit or call 617.492.2700.




Pro EMS Paramedics Assist in Maynard Mock Crash


On Friday, May 2, one week before prom, Pro EMS paramedics assisted the Maynard Fire and Police Departments in responding to a staged car accident. In the mock incident, two cars full of teens crash because one driver is operating under the influence of alcohol. The simulation encompasses a field sobriety test and arrest for the offending driver, the use of Jaws of Life to extricate one victim, and a fatality. Theater students from Maynard High School acted as victims and witnesses to the crash. The annual event, in its fourth iteration this year, reminds students of the perils of drinking and driving.


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Professional Ambulance Employees Join Fight Against Heart Disease on Wear Red Day


February 2014 – Employees at Professional Ambulance (Pro EMS) were seeing red on February 7, 2014, as part of the National Wear Red Day celebration to benefit the American Heart Association.


Hundreds of local businesses, community groups, hospitals, towns and schools signed up to go red to help raise awareness and funds to fight cardiovascular disease.


GoRed_ambulance-300Thousands of companies and organizations nationwide encourage their employees to wear red and donate $5 to the Go Red For Women® movement and receive a red dress pin. Funds raised through Wear Red Day help support the life-saving initiatives of the American Heart Association – awareness campaigns, prevention and education programs and cutting-edge scientific research.


“Pro EMS was happy to support the AHA’s Go Red campaign this year,” said Danielle Thomas, Director of Pro EMS Center for MEDICS. “It is our hope that this campaign will gain greater support within the pre-hospital emergency medical services field.”


Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, while stroke is No. 4.  Women often miss the symptoms of these diseases until it’s too late—explaining why cardiovascular disease is referred to as a ‘silent killer.’ The American Heart Association is working to raise awareness of these diseases and encourage women to take charge of their heart health by making simple lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, eating healthier, exercising more and maintaining a healthy weight. Women can find important health tips at, including online tools and health assessments such as “My Life Check.”



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 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 35 years. For more information, visit or call 617.492.2700.



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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