SMRC keeps Center for Domestic Preparedness staff and students healthy

FEMA said on Thursday that the Center for Domestic Preparedness is able to focus on its work because of SMRC, which provides medical support services to ensure the safety and welfare for more than 200 students and 800 employees.

The medical support services staff at CDP consists of a project manager, deputy project manager, a quality manager and four medical lab technicians, 10 full-time paramedics, a nurse practitioner and a physician.

All the medical lab technicians are skilled at collecting blood samples from students who will and have entered a live-agent environment. They are able to analyze the blood to make sure students remain exposure-free during training.

"On average, we do about 120-150 samples a week in support of the courses," Lab Technician Jackie Morgan said.

Nurse practitioner Mindy O'Bryant and Dr. William Bohannon consult with paramedics and medical staff during the course of caring for a patient.

"We really think of each other as family, our work family," Paramedic Derick Reaves said.

The team works to make sure students at CDP are healthy and having an expected response to personal protective equipment, breathing apparatuses and simulated hazards.

"Aside from the challenges faced by all emergency workers - environmental hazards, emergency driving conditions and other operational challenges - paramedics at the CDP perform a hazard assessment on each student who trains at the CDP," SMRC Project Manager Thomas Buzan said.

Reaves said one of the challenges of the job is the constant turnover of students moving through the program.

"One of the biggest challenges, for me is seeing so many new faces every week," Reaves said. "It's wonderful to interact with people from all across the country and the world that are from numerous different (emergency response) disciplines."

SMRC paramedics are licensed by the State of Alabama and the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians in an effort to keep them current in training and emergency response procedures.

"Medical Support Services is proud to provide highly-trained paramedics who have the best equipment available at their disposal," Buzan said. "These new ambulances allow our paramedics to maintain an even higher standard of care to CDP students, visitors and staff."