Members of the Mohawk Valley Ambulance Corps hope to raise funds to purchase equipment that will allow them to respond more safely in special emergency situations.
Brad Vrooman, a MOVAC paramedic supervisor, said emergency medical responders around the country are more often finding themselves in situations that are “atypical of civilian emergency responders,” such as mass shootings and standoffs.
Vrooman referred to the “national level shooter situation” emergency responders had locally on March 13 and 14, when Kurt Myers, of Mohawk, killed two men in John’s Barber Shop, two men in Herkimer and left two others injured when he went on a shooting rampage. Myers then holed himself up inside the former Glory Days bar on North Main Street in Herkimer during a standoff with police until the next morning when police shot and killed him.
As a result from the local incident and the frequency with which these sort of incidents are occurring nationally, MOVAC formed its own medical response team, with Vrooman and Jeremy Stephens, a MOVAC paramedic field supervisor, serving as its chairpersons.
In a letter mailed out to businesses six weeks ago, Stephens and Vrooman said most of the training for special response teams are mostly paid for through the state and federal government. Vrooman said, however, during an interview on Monday, that while funding is available for law enforcement agencies to purchase the needed equipment, the same options aren’t available for fire and emergency medical responders.
“All the funding is geared directly to law enforcement. It’s not available to fire and EMS, but we’re exposed to the same dangers as law enforcement,” he said.
MOVAC, a not-for-profit agency, is continuing its efforts to raise donations so they can purchase the equipment needed for eight individuals on duty, or two for each ambulance.
The estimated cost to stock each ambulance with the proper ballistic protection equipment - which includes a helmet and bulletproof vest - is between $2,000 and $2,500.
Stephens said they thank donors who have already come through for them, including Collis Hardware, Vinny’s Pizzeria and state Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney.
While they are still in the process of getting the proper equipment, MOVAC’s MRT unit had a chance to train with the Herkimer and Mohawk police department’s special response team unit. The first joint training program took place on Aug. 22 and 23 at Herkimer High School, where they trained for mass shooting incidents.
“[It’s] a cooperative, joint effort to teach everyone how to increase survivability rate in these situations,” said Vrooman.
He noted while MOVAC didn’t have the proper equipment to train, they were able to borrow what the Herkimer and Mohawk SRT team had available.
Page 2 of 2 - Herkimer and Mohawk Police Chief Joseph Malone said on Tuesday a tactical medic usually heads into these situations with his SRT unit. He also said the rest of the emergency medical responders at the scene need to know what to do when things are cleared.
“MOVAC is ready to come in behind us to be ready for the victims,” said Malone. “Sometimes they need a little more protection than their stethoscope.”
Businesses interested in donating may send checks to MOVAC at P.O. Box 431, Mohawk, N.Y. 13407 with the note SRT in the memo area.