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May 20, 2011

EMS Week competition tests FDNY medics


NEW YORK — When EMS members responded to a call for two cars on the side of the road, they might have assumed there was a minor accident. But instead, there's a woman with no pulse, a burn victim and a hostage that pops out of the trunk of one car.

It's not necessarily a typical day on the job.

The good news? It's all part of the 11th Annual EMS Competition in Metrotech Commons in Brooklyn on May 19.

The event tested the skills and quick thinking of the FDNY's paramedics and EMTs from around the city.

"This has been a great week," said Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano. "It's especially great because it gives us the chance to say 'thank you' for what you do day in and day out."

Chief of Department Edward Kilduff added: "It's always an inspiration to see you compete, to see your enthusiasm. I'm so proud of all of you."

The competition, coordinated by EMS Deputy Chief Andrew Werner and Lt. James Fallar in the Office of Medical Affairs, tested each team's ability to think on their feet, assess complicated situations, make use of new equipment and procedures, and communicate.

Ten teams — five Advanced Life Support (ALS) and five Basic Life Support (BLS) — participated in this year's challenge. This year also was the first that a team of chiefs participated.

"It was very challenging, very realistic," said Paramedic James Hudak, Division 1, who has participated in numerous competitions.

EMT Terri Ann Cancetty, Division 1 team, said she, too, found the competition challenging, because "you're trying to figure things out in seconds. It's overwhelming, but it's exciting at the same time."

The Division 1 team won first place for ALS, Division 4 took second place and the team of chiefs took third. For BLS, Division 4 won first, Division 3 took second and Division 2 took third.

The winning teams won the opportunity for their stations to be the first to receive a new model ambulance.

The Command also unveiled a music video titled "Blue Star" by Paramedic Farooq Muhammad, which was about his devotion to the job. And the FDNY CPR unit trained more than 100 members of the public during the annual event.

Special tribute
During the EMS Competition ceremony, a special honor went to Deputy Assistant Chief John McFarland, for his more than 20 years of dedicated service to the EMS Command.

"Chief McFarland is an incredibly special person and EMS is a reflection of him," said Dr. David Prezant, the FDNY's Chief Medical Officer. "You have no idea what an advocate he is. His focus has always been on one thing, the patient, and he never forgot what it was like to be a paramedic."

Chief of EMS Abdo Nahmod described him as the "most dedicated professional who has ever come through this service."

Yet Chief McFarland, who brought his family to the ceremony, was humble about the award, saying, "This is for all of you who continue to try to improve patient care. Our EMS Command deals with more calls in one day than most services can even think about. But, every day, you need to wake up and think, 'How are we going to make things better for just one of the 8.1 million people in New York City who will have to call 911 today.'"

Reprinted with permission from FDNY.