Pennsylvania EMS Division Chief McDonald incorporates CDP training into exercises

Tim McDonald, a firefighter at Kirwan Heights Fire Department in Collier Township, Pennsylvania, and a chief for his local Emergency Medical Services (EMS) division, recently trained at FEMA's Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP).

McDonald participated in the CDP's Hospital Emergency Response Training for Mass Casualty Incidents (HERT) course.

"I'm one of the chiefs for the EMS division," McDonald said. "I handle training, health and safety-all of which run through my office. I'm a fire instructor and EMS instructor. I teach all of the hazmat classes for awareness operations and refresher courses and I incorporate a lot of (CDP training) into our scenario driven exercises."

McDonald said the course provided insight into a multi-discipline environment that requires communication among a variety of departments.

"Understanding the hospital side of an incident is one of the most beneficial parts of this class," McDonald said. "Mostly, my world is to bring the patient to the hospital. Seeing how they prepare for who we bring them, how they handle evidence and contamination, and even how they handle patient load has been great. It could be a single patient or 50 patients. The other side of it is what can we do to make their life easier as emergency responders."

McDonald is also a hazmat technician for Allegheny County, Pa., and said he enjoys the challenges of the field.

"Hazmat is a little interesting monster," McDonald said. "It's something you can't really see so it is something you have to use more than just your five senses to figure out. You have to really rely on a partnership. You have to work as a team to solve the answer. It is nice to have someone on your team that has had experiences or education and can offer insight. Using the information and the practical skill sets that I learned from the CDP has made me look at things in a new light."

McDonald said he would be interested in returning to the CDP with additional colleagues.