By Rebecca Jones
Big bus accidents. Train derailments. Plane crashes.
They don’t happen very often but when they do, a team of UNM Health System doctors specially trained in emergency and in-the-field medicine is ready to respond at a moment’s notice.
With their go-bags packed and their large, white Chevrolet Tahoes stocked with fresh supplies and high-tech, life-saving equipment, these docs are ready for anything – 24/7.
“A big part of the job is making sure that focus and care and energy goes to improving pre-hospital care…and for all those who access the 911 system,” says Drew Harrell, MD, of UNM’s Emergency Medical Services Consortium. “We’re working in close collaboration with partner agencies and the pre-hospital EMTs and paramedics to provide care with the newest science and making sure the cities we serve are taken care of.”
This team of physicians – made up of eight attending faculty members and three fellows – works with agencies from all over the state and provides a direct link to the UNM Hospital Emergency Department by helping with potentially complicated calls, Harrell says.
In fact, they are equipped to answer medical calls for service throughout the metro area. They also aid in search-and-rescue efforts in the Sandia Mountains, as well as the far reaches of the state.
“We take university-level care to the street and remote, rural areas,” he says.
Having doctors delivering care on the streets isn’t a new concept but it isn’t found in many other cities, Harrell says. Fewer than three dozen cities have “a robust” field presence like UNM’s, he adds.
The consortium is made up of a number of agencies throughout the state, including:
- Albuquerque, Rio Rancho and Bernalillo County fire departments
- Sandoval, Torrance, Valencia and other county emergency services
- Tribal agencies
- Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department
- New Mexico State Police
- Grand Canyon National Park, of which Harrell is medical director