Top lifesavers: City paramedics compete at Downtown emergency response contest

High stakes: A Queens team of paramedics respond to a mannequin drowning victim at the EMS Competition in Downtown’s MetroTech Commons on May 23.
Photo by Kevin Duggan

They want to be the first responders!

The finest emergency personnel from around the five borough’s battled it out for the title of best paramedics at the 19th Annual EMS Competition at MetroTech Commons on May 23.

Each borough put forward its two best teams — one from the basic life support and another from the advanced life support division — to respond to a staged emergency the Fire Department set up in the Downtown plaza between Jay Street and Flatbush Avenue Ext., and one onlooker enjoyed seeing her colleagues handle the challenges in different ways.

“Some people are a little more calm, slower, and precise, and others are just, the adrenaline’s rushing and they’re moving faster,” said emergency medical technician Marcella Rivera, who works at the nearby Fire Department headquarters on Flatbush Avenue Ext.

She watched as an all-women’s team from Queens dealt with an impromptu summer party gone wrong, which had several people with different injuries, as well as a mannequin out of sight behind a pool that represented somebody that had drowned.

In order to succeed at the tournament, the paramedics have to keep an overview of the situation, according to another spectator, who was there to support his Fort Greene comrades.

“First of all, knowing how many patients you have, not having tunnel vision and being open to any possibility and any distraction, know how to ignore it but also how to maneuver,” said Jermaine Irving, a paramedic at N. Portland Avenue’s Station 31.

That station was one of two Kings County competitors, which also included Canarsie’s Station 58.

The event is part of the national EMS Week, which celebrates the country’s bravest, with different events around the city, such as blood drives, raising money for the community and donating bicycles to kids.

These kinds of events show the complexities involved for the brave spirits working in the emergency services, according to Rivera.

“It’s to bring awareness to the public of what we do on an everyday basis, where not just ambulance drivers,” she said.

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.
The key to being a first responder is keeping an overview of how many injured people you have to deal with while not getting distracted, one paramedic said.
Photo by Kevin Duggan

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