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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI EMS executes major incident medical plan at Seaside Classic

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KINGSTON, R.I. – July 28, 2008 – Treating everything from minor cuts and sprains to head injuries at one of New England’s largest soccer tournaments, the University of Rhode Island Emergency Medical Services recently executed its first major incident medical plan that is in conformance with new federal standards.

Led by Cmdr. Shad Ahmed, URI’s EMS spearheaded coverage of the South County Youth Soccer Club Seaside Classic July 12 and 13. The event – which included 167 teams and more than 3,000 players – featured squads from New England, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Canada.

With two venues on the Kingston campus, plus two remote sites in South Kingstown and one more in North Kingstown, URI EMS worked in conjunction with several local municipal, public and private services and other agencies to coordinate coverage. Ahmed led an effort in line with the National Incident Management System and Incident Command System.

“Since the tragedies at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois, people are rightfully asking, ‘What are we doing to be ready for something like that?’” Ahmed said. “Here at URI, we have actually executed a plan, and we have done so successfully. That is something that the University as a whole can be very proud of.”

The national regulations call for a standardized flow of command that allows for improved communication among various units. With 35 EMS workers on hand for the Seaside Classic (25 from URI and 10 from outside groups), clear communication was vital.

In addition to the URI EMS, there was a state mass casualty trailer unit from Hope Valley Ambulance Squad, a medical event trailer and medical transport John Deere Gator (an all-terrain vehicle for moving individuals with neck injuries) from Yawgoo Valley Search and Rescue, and five ambulances on hand. URI EMS, Alert Ambulance, Coastline Ambulance, Hope Valley Ambulance and Westerly Ambulance supplied the ambulances.

Charlestown Ambulance and Rescue Service Chief Patrick McMahon – who coordinated coverage of major soccer tournaments in the region for 12 years - provided administrative support, while the state Disaster Medical Assistance Team set up a field hospital site at South County Hospital for the event. The South Kingstown EMS and North Kingstown Fire Department provided assistance at the remote sites.

“The event was an overwhelming success and displayed seamless interagency cooperation to support a community event,” Ahmed said. “We felt we could have handled several times the patient volume we saw, which is an indication of the level of our preparedness. Everyone involved can be proud of that.”

During the two-day event, personnel responded to more than 90 incidents, including three that required individuals to be transported to local hospitals. Traditionally, the Seaside Classic has brought more than 300 requests for aid.

URI EMS Capt. Josh Manfredo led the Emergency Operations Center, which served as the communications headquarters. Set up in the office of the URI EMS headquarters on Plains Road, the center was responsible for all the medical resources at the event. URI EMS also set up a 15-exam site medical aid station in the classroom, providing a secure area for treatment.

With one central operations center, communication was vastly improved. If incidents of dehydration rose during certain times of the day, the EMS crews could communicate with tournament officials and ask that teams take more frequent mandatory hydration breaks.

“Our work is not just in the form of treating people, but also in educating them on preventative measures as well,” Manfredo said. “Everyone needs to know what to do in the case of an emergency, and we want to help make people more aware of what they should be doing.”

Jay Primiano, tournament manager for the Seaside Classic, said the work of URI EMS and the other organizations provided a comfortable, safe environment for the players and spectators on hand.

“The preparation done by Shad Ahmed and all the agencies was outstanding, to the point where I was confident that I could focus on the soccer aspect of the event,” said Primiano, a Jamestown resident. “When parents are sending their children to a major event on a college campus, they need to know that safety is the top priority. When that doesn’t happen, you will hear about it. In this case, silence was golden.”

For Ahmed, the success at the Seaside Classic was an indicator that URI could handle coverage for even larger events in the future.

“No matter the size of an incident or event, the new federal standards are designed as a flexible, adaptable system to work with,” Ahmed said. “Executing the plan in this event provides us with a strong template for major events in the future.”