Hundreds of EMTs, Paramedics and Ambulances head to New York State to provide EMS support under AMR’s FEMA contract.
(Dallas, TX) – Global Medical Response has deployed American Medical Response crews and ambulances in response to a FEMA request to provide ambulances and emergency medical services personnel to the greater New York area. This is in response to the federal government’s request to AMR for EMS help to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
GMR activated its National Command Center (NATCOM) in Dallas on January 28. At NATCOM, GMR’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) has been monitoring the spread of the virus closely while working with other state and federal agencies to deploy teams for screenings, transports and evacuations. GMR’s Medical leaders have also worked very closely with the CDC, WHO and departments of public health around the country. AMR teams were among the first to respond in King County, WA, and Los Angeles County, CA, when the initial instances occurred in the United States.
The company mobilized Incident Command teams Saturday to establish a forward operating base (FOB) in New York. At this point, all deployed teams and vehicles are in the area. If air evacuation teams are requested, GMR will also send resources.
“We will do whatever we can to help decompress the system in New York and help the FDNY firefighters and medics on the front line,” said GMR Chief Operating Officer Ted Van Horne. “This pandemic is unprecedented and devastating communities across our country. Our crews prepare for these healthcare emergencies year-round. Now is the time to come together to help the areas most affected.”
AMR also contracted other EMS providers to assist with its extensive deployment and support America’s COVID-19 pandemic response. Resources will remain in the area as long as they are needed. When the teams arrive at their assigned area, they will work under the guidance of FEMA, state and local agencies.
Throughout the deployment, NATCOM staff will remotely monitor crews who have been sent to the area. They can dispatch onsite crews to respond to virus-related emergencies and evacuations, and closely monitor crews in the affected disaster areas 24/7.
The company also takes extensive precautions to monitor teams who are deployed as well as those who remain in home operations. Van Horne said GMR uses its online infectious disease screening platform (MAST – Medical Assessment and Screening Tool) and 24/7-staffed Nurse Navigation and Physician team to assess, screen and monitor employees who have been in contact with COVID-19 positive or presumptive patients.
Van Horne said, “We want to ensure our teams have access to care at any time during this deployment as well as when they are in their home operations responding to 911 calls.” He said that crews wear personal protective equipment, or PPE, but sometimes they respond to calls that are not related to COVID-19 and later find out the patient tested positive. “We have to give them tools and access to nurses and physicians who can answer their calls at any time of day.”
He explained that MAST allows employees to answer a set of questions to determine risk of exposure. The algorithm behind MAST follows CDC guidelines precisely; if those guidelines change, the MAST and Nurse Navigation protocols change.
Van Horne added that the deployment would in no way impact the company’s ability to meet patient needs in the thousands of communities where AMR has operations. “This is what we do. We know how to resource and staff for local 911 systems and at the same time be prepared to respond to national emergencies.” GMR’s operations around the country and OEM prepare for emergencies year-round and are ready to respond, often with 36-48 hours’ notice. They conduct multiple training exercises, store caches of equipment and vehicles in strategic locations around the country. “We have to be prepared to respond at a moment’s notice,” Van Horne said.
AMR is the primary medical ground transportation operation of parent company Global Medical Response. As the nation’s largest provider of ground medical transportation and FEMA’s prime emergency medical service response provider, AMR has a national agreement with FEMA to provide ground ambulance, air ambulance, paratransit services and non-ambulance EMS personnel to supplement the Federal and Military response to a disaster, an act of terrorism or any other public health emergency.