HVA operates a number of specialized teams which support the activities of law enforcement and fire departments, as well as the internal mission of our ambulance service. In each case, team members must meet rigorous standards to be considered for team membership. They attend specialized training and continuing education so that they are able to respond quickly and competently.
Hazardous Materials Response Team
During hazardous materials incidents, our paramedics respond with fire departments to protect the public. HazMat response is a fire department function and HVA provides medical support. Incidents might include a highway accident involving chemical release, a railroad accident, an illegal chemical lab found in a home, or simply a storage barrel with an unknown substance found by a road. Our specialized paramedics have additional training in the following:
- chemical weapon treatment
- disaster management
- use of special antidote kits
Tactical EMS (TEMS)
Our Tactical EMS team provides medical support for police tactical teams, which deal with emergencies such as a barricaded gunman, high risk warrant arrests, execution of search warrants and other emergencies. Our TEMS paramedics train regularly with the Michigan State Police and other law enforcement teams in the region.
Technical/Confined Space Rescue Team
HVA paramedics are part of the Washtenaw County Technical Rescue Team along with area firefighters. Like a HAZMAT response, this is a fire department function and HVA provides medical care to victims and team members. The team is trained and equipped to rescue individuals trapped in confined spaces such as a trench, building collapse, or grain bin. They also perform high angle rescues from tall structures, such as transmission towers.
Infectious Disease Team
This team was formed during the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Africa. Using a specially prepared ambulance, the team provides specialized transport between facilities for patients with potentially infectious disease.
Bike Medic Teams (see also Event Coverage)
HVA paramedics serve on bicycle teams to more easily cover special events such as the Ann Arbor Art Fair, the Ypsilanti Heritage Festival, numerous events in the City of Plymouth and more. Medics work in pairs and carry much of the same equipment and medications that they carry on the ambulance (minus the stretcher, of course). Bike medics can quickly maneuver through crowds to get to emergencies quickly. While medics treat the patient, an ambulance is brought closer if transport is needed.
HVA Honor Guard
HVA's Honor Guard represents our organization and our employees at company events, funerals and ceremonial events in the community. Our team was formed after the line-of-duty death of HVA/JCA medic Cheryl Kiefer in 2008.
Special Teams FAQs
Do HVA Tactical paramedics carry weapons?
HVA tactical medics are not armed but they are trained to use law enforcement weapons if an officer is disabled. They are also trained to break-down a loaded weapon, if necessary. Our tactical medics are assigned to work close to the incident but not in the "hot zone".
Is the full Hazmat Team called out each time an unknown chemical or incident is identified?
It depends on the incident. The entire team can be activated quickly if the situation warrants it. In some cases, a smaller HazMat group might be summoned to investigate before activating the entire team.
Why can confined spaces be dangerous?
Confined space rescues present many challenges. For example, a trench collapse can be extremely dangerous. When a trench collapses and covers a victim, bystanders (and even some rescuers) might rush into the trench to try to dig the victim out. But these trenches can easily collapse further and claim additional victims. Trench walls must be stabilized to protect others during the rescue. Another example is someone trapped in a manhole or farm silo. These spaces can contain a build up of dangerous gases which can claim other victims. The spaces must be ventilated and tested for safety before a rescue begins.
Who pays for these special teams?
HVA views these teams as part of our community responsibility and normally receives no reimbursement for their deployment.