Portland Fire & Rescue’s (PF&R) Emergency Operations Division hosted a Disaster Medical Specialist course that spanned over the week of September 13, 2010. The course was funded with federal grant dollars, mirrored the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Urban Search & Rescue curriculum, and was developed primarily for city, state, and federal urban search and rescue responders.
Firefighter paramedics from PF&R and other agencies a part of Oregon's Urban Search and Rescue (USAR)program attended the intense training, participating in both classroom and field-based exercises. Members of the Oregon’s USAR program provide timely technical disaster search and rescue services for the state of Oregon.
The goal of the course was to provide participants with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform medical assessment and care at a structural collapse disaster scene due to natural disasters or terrorist incidents. Participants were exposed to the injury types consistent with structural collapse incidents and in turn learned how to best provide medical care in a confined space.
Topics covered included public health and environmental issues, sudden onset calamities, victim medical problems, crush syndrome, improvised explosive device and blast injuries, confined space medical and tactical care considerations and operations, austere care, and mainstays of patient care. The course also provided a half day on search canine veterinary care since medical specialists would be the first to treat injured search canines on scene.
Participants were required to bring personal protective equipment such as helmets, steel-toe safety boots, eye protection, work gloves, and kneepads.
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