For 20 minutes, two federal law enforcement agents feverishly tried to resuscitate a heavyset, middle-aged man in cardiac arrest. As they did, a Nassau County police medic critiqued the agents’ medical skills as a Northwell Health nurse watched the unfolding scene from an adjacent video booth in the health system’s Patient Safety Institute (PSI) in Lake Success.
That was the scenario Thursday, October 19 as four tactical medics from the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) practiced real-world emergency medicine skills that they may have to use during a weapons raid or bomb detonation – but in the safety of PSI’s simulated laboratories using digitally enhanced and controlled mannequins.
“This is part of Northwell being a socially responsible organization and helping law enforcement and the government,” said Robert Kerner, Jr., director of the Patient Safety Institute, part of Northwell Health’s corporate university, called the Center for Learning and Innovation.
“These agents are practicing for situations like what happens if a team member gets shot during a raid. They obviously can’t stop the raid, and they don’t have a lot of time to think about what to do.”
At PSI, trained instructors in control rooms with surveillance mirrors can manipulate the computerized patient simulators to mimic virtually any medical scenario: a stroke, heart attack, small pox, amputation or other trauma. All simulations are video recorded and reviewed during post-scenario debriefings.
The ATF employs 72 tactical medics, including one in New York City and two upstate. They typically work with special operations teams comprised of about 20 agents and are there to take care of team members as well as anyone else injured during an operation.
“When you’re out arresting somebody, the bad guys live with other people and family,” said Joshua Knapp, a special agent and project officer in the ATF’s tactical medical program. “We encounter older people who get frightened and become ill because we have an arrest warrant and we’re coming for their son, or grandson. It’s not just trauma-related injuries.”
Ashan M. Benedict, special agent in charge of ATF’s New York Field Division, said: “On behalf of ATF, I would like to extend our gratitude to Northwell Health for making their facility, resources, and personnel available to ATF’s tactical medics. The training they received at Northwell Health will undoubtedly prove to be invaluable to them in the field. They will be better prepared to render aid and save lives as a result.”
The tactical medic program was borne out of the 1993 Waco, Texas, siege. Four ATF agents were killed trying to execute a search warrant at the Branch Davidian compound.
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About Northwell Health
Northwell Health is New York State’s largest health care provider and private employer, with 22 hospitals, over 550 outpatient facilities and nearly 15,000 affiliated physicians. We care for more than two million people annually in the New York metro area and beyond, thanks to philanthropic support from our communities. Our 62,000 employees – 15,000+ nurses and 3,900 employed doctors, including members of Northwell Health Physician Partners – are working to change health care for the better. We’re making breakthroughs in medicine at the Feinstein Institute. We're training the next generation of medical professionals at the visionary Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell and the Hofstra Northwell School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies. For information on our more than 100 medical specialties, visit Northwell.edu.