The 9th Annual Medical Special Operations Conference


The 9th Annual Medical Special Operations Conference

By Benjamin Watts   

After a short Covid-19 based hiatus the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) held its 9th annual Medical Special Operations Conference from May 12-15th 2022. This years conference had attendees from 6 countries and 26 states of America!

The conference falls into 3 main parts.

- MSOC EMS competition
- Pre-Conference workshops
- Main Conference and Workshops

I was fortunate enough to be invited to represent World Extreme Medicine (WEM) and the Emergency Medical Retrieval Service (EMRS) facilitating a full day pre-conference workshop at Fort Totten (EMS Training academy) exploring Human Factors and non-technical skills in low resource and wilderness environments.

Eoin Walker (Philips, RDT – ex-LAS AP-CC and LAA HEMS Paramedic) and I worked with Mark Hannaford (Founder WEM), Stephen Wood (Director of APP MICU St. Elizabeths Medical centre Boston MA) and Jeremy Neskey (Intern at Uniformed Service University College of Operational Readyness) to deliver the days teaching and simulation. A multi-disciplinary team from the USA and UK with a wealth of experience from healthcare, military and expedition settings.

We ran a series of practical sessions exploring and leadership, followership, shared mental model and the importance of developing robust communication strategies in challenging environments. The day culminated in a protracted, low-resource multicausality incident in challenging terrain, where the teamworking and human factors within the flash-teams was tested.

Other workshops included cadaveric labs, drone work, animal/K9 first aid and the Tactical Casualty Care Course (TCCC).

The MSOC EMS competition looked an excellent combination of technical rescue, high-fidelity simulation and complex clinical situations. The teams were all US based and performed to a very high standard. Perhaps a UK team should compete next year? HART/SORT teams from around the UK…

The main stage of the conference was host to some incredible international speakers proffering topics from ‘Space medicine’ and the lessons learned, to the management of prolonged confined space incidents and crush patients. Dr Stuart Weiss presented some fascinating crowd-based trauma and the lessons learned and how apply them to a plan for mass-gathering events, mitigating the risks of crush.

Randall’s Island is the New York Fire Department equivalent to Moreton-in-the-Marsh fire training centre in the UK, multiple burn buildings, a subway station, airplane carcass and rubble piles with a tunnel system as well as a purpose-built contained street with working at height gantries and multi-purpose buildings which can be used for hostage situations, MTFA exercises or technical rescue.

During the conference there were multiple practical workshops with one exercise simulating a patient trapped between a subway carriage and platform, a ‘oneunder’ with a critically unwell patient under another subway carriage. At the other end of the subway track is a second station which held a 15 casualty MTFA exercise.

The opportunity for joint working, shared learning and making friends and connections with colleagues from across the US and Canada was a privilege and one I would highly recommend. The conference was a brilliant experience. I look forward to next year!

Essential places to visit for any emergency services personnel visiting New York.

- Ground Zero and 9/11 Museum
- O’Haras Bar (A true emergency services bar – ask to see ‘The Book’ incredible history!)
- FDNY museum.

Benjamin Watts – Advanced Retrieval Practitioner – Emergency Medical Retrieval Service – Scottish Ambulance Service.