The Special Operations division is comprised of Primary Care Paramedics and Advanced Care Paramedics who have additional training for working in specialized environments with allied partners.
Paramedic Bike Unit
The Paramedic Bike Unit (PBU) provides first response paramedic coverage in the Nation's Capital from May-October.
The unit is assigned to the downtown core and Byward Market area. They provide an extremely effective response in urban Ottawa due to the number of bike paths, parks, and popular places of congregation (eg. Rideau Centre, World Exchange Plaza, Parliament Hill, etc).
The PBU members are fully trained paramedics who carry a defibrillator, trauma kit, intubation kit, intravenous kit, and assortment of advanced life support medications. This unit has proven to be critical in providing emergency medical care to the citizens and visitors of Ottawa on numerous occasions; especially for large events like Canada Day and the National Capital Marathon.
For example, on Canada Day, two PBU members were first on scene to a man who had been stabbed several times. Due to their quick and agile response capabilities in large crowds, the PBU members were able to provide an irreplaceable combination of rapid first response mixed with advanced life support treatments.
The PBU basically brings good medicine to hard-to-reach places in an urban environment.
During the winter months PBU members also provide medical care on the world's longest skating rink. They first respond on the Rideau Canal skate way with the use of a transport capable Bobcat ATV.
In addition to maintaining their medical credentials, all PBU members retrain every year in paramedic bike response and urban cycling skills.
Chad Kennedy, Paramedic Bike Unit
Paramedic Marine Unit
The Paramedic Marine Unit (PMU) provides emergency medical care to police officers or citizens who become sick or injured in the marine environment. A partnership exists with the Ottawa Police Marine Dive & Trails Unit.
The three mandates of the marine unit are:
- Dive operations - The Ottawa Police Marine Dive & Trails Unit have a mandate that they must include Paramedic Marine Unit members as a MUST for any dive operation (training or operational). This mandate was brought into place after several actual dive emergencies and other emergencies. The PMU ensures the health & safety of all operators, including pre and post dive assessments as well as vital signs monitoring of each diver. The PMU also tends to divers.
- River patrol - The Ottawa Police Marine Dive & Trails Unit has a mandate to have paramedics aboard their various vessels. The MDT and PMU respond to any calls on or near the Upper Ottawa River and Lower Ottawa River (Arnprior to Wendover) and Rideau Rive (Ottawa to Burritt's Rapids). Approximately 100km of waterways are patrolled in the Ottawa area. The PMU also engaged in preventive medicine where they initiate dialogue with boaters regarding best practices, drowning prevention and how to avoid becoming symptomatic in inclement weather or extreme environments.
- Water rescue operations - The Paramedic Marine Unit deploys with Ottawa Fire Service Water Rescue teams. PMU members are sent to all potential water-related calls (including those in swift-water environments and ice rescues). All PMU members are Swift Water Rescue (Specialist level) certified and trained in many emergency rescue maneuvers.
André Mollema, Paramedic Marine Unit
Paramedic Response Unit
The Paramedic Response Unit (PRU) is a specialty team within the regular operations branch of the Ottawa Paramedic Service. Its mandate is to provide rapid response to code 4 life threatening emergency calls.
As these Ford Taurus AWD Interceptor units are not transport capable, it ensures a paramedic presence stationed in the community at all times, decreasing overall response times. The unit is also utilized on all VSA (Vital Signs Absent) calls in the Ottawa area to provide Primary Care Paramedic level assistance, as well as the ability to operate an automated CPR device.
The unit has proven effective in increasing the number of available transport capable paramedic units by treating and releasing patients on scene, cancelling resources, or downgrading the responding unit (when appropriate) enabling it to remain available for higher acuity code 4 emergencies.
The PRU can also be deployed strictly for the assistance of our transport units, providing lift assists or general assistance on high acuity calls when another set of trained hands would be welcomed.
Kevin Montgomery, Paramedic Response Unit
Paramedic Support Unit
The Paramedic Support Unit (PSU) provides specialized medical coverage to police officers and citizens in a wide array of operations. PSU works in a direct partnership with the Emergency Services Unit (ESU) of the Ottawa Police Service. PSU operates with three distinctly different mandates:
- Search and Rescue (SAR) - PSU members provide medical coverage and use specialized training/equipment to work alongside their police partners in missing persons and/or evidence searches. Advanced extrication, wilderness training, rope rescue, GPS tracking, missing persons behaviour and swift water training are all areas of expertise. PSU also provides medical coverage for High Risk SAR operations ensuring immediate medical treatment for any officer or citizen in the event of injury or illness in these high threat environment.
- Public Order - PSU provides integrated medical coverage for heavily populated events, large scale protests, demonstrations, festivals and VIP/IPP visits. Our members are provided the same level of personal protective equipment as our police partners, so they are able to provide immediate care in all situations I.E: peaceful demonstrations to large scale public gatherings. PSU members are trained in active shooter Immediate Action Rapid Deployment (IARD) tactics, Multiple Causality Incident (MCI) casualty collection, crowd movement, formations, convoy driving, tactical emergency casualty care, sports medicine and other related specialities.
- Chemical, Biological, Radioactive, Nuclear and Explosive (CBRNE) - PSU provides medical coverage, extrication and treatment within the warm zone of all active CBRNE events in which ESU responds to. PSU members are trained to the CBRNe Intermediate level and ensure specific safety measures and treatment plans are in place. PSU works within the stringent decontamination area and provides treatment when required to police partners, allied agencies and citizens involved in an inadvertent or intentional CBRNE exposure. When not providing patient care PSU assists our Fire partners in the decontamination process. MCI planning, Hazmat awareness, High Risk Transfer Unit (HRTU), knowledge and understanding of extensive equipment and exposure to diverse training are all part of this mandate.
PSU works actively with the Ottawa Police Services regular patrol, Marine/Dive and Trail (MDT) teams as well as K-9. In addition, PSU is also a partner with the RCMP Emergency Medical Response Team, Ottawa Fire and other allied agencies to provide immediate medical treatment and vital communication link between parties involved in these hostile or remote environments with our regular operations Paramedic teams. Our members must successfully complete rigorous physical and mental training throughout the year and maintain a commitment to the team in order to remain as an active and valued member.
Jonathan Sylvester, Paramedic Support Unit
Paramedic Tactical Unit
The primary mission of the Paramedic Tactical Unit (PTU) is to provide emergency medical care in the field to police officers or citizens who become injured or ill during tactical operations. These operations include a wide range of dangerous events: hostage situations, high risk search warrants, active shooters incidents, IPP/VIP deployments, CBRNE events, high risk police trainings and more.
The PTU works and trains with multiple partners including, but not limited to the Ottawa Police Tactical Unit, regular operations police, RCMP Emergency Response Team, Ottawa/RCMP Bomb/CBRNE unit, Canadian Forces, Ottawa Fire Hazmat and more.
The PTU serves as a liaison between these services and paramedic regular operations to better coordinate complicated multi agency emergency events and mass casualty incidents.
In addition to 3 years of education for Advanced Care Paramedics or 2 years of education for Primary Care Paramedics, tactical crews must pass a stringent intake process, 2 months of basic training and continuously engage in police operations in order to maintain a state of readiness for all possible incidents.
PTU members are trained in tactical emergency casualty care, K-9 medicine, police operations and tactics, sports medicine and rehab, CBRNE medicine, and much more. Specialized training for specialized care in high risk situations.
Kevin Dubreuil, Paramedic Tactical Unit
OTHER SPECIALTY UNITS
The Special Operations Division is comprised of Primary Care Paramedics and Advanced Care Paramedics who have additional training for working in specialized environments with allied partners.
High Risk Transfer Unit (HRTU)
The High Risk Transfer Unit (HRTU) program was born out of Ontario's response to the devastating 2014 Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in West Africa and subsequent directives issued by the Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario. In response to these directives, the Ottawa Paramedic Service created the HRTU program in an effort to maintain the confidence of its staff by providing a response that delivered the right paramedics, with the right training and equipment to safely manage patients potentially infected with this deadly disease.
The HRTU is utilized for both scene response and/or inter-facility transfers of patients who are identified as being high risk for EVD based on a screening tool applied prior to patient contact. The HRTU response requires a full team effort including our Communications Division, Operations Paramedics and ultimately our Special Operations Division such as the Paramedic Support Unit (PSU) and the Paramedic Tactical Unit (PTU); both certified in advanced CBRNE response. With this knowledge and training the Ottawa Paramedic Service PSU and PTU bring an enhanced ability to complete the response due to their knowledge of personal protective equipment and decontamination requirements. The HRTU is comprised of a specifically modified vehicle with a complete barrier between the driver and the patient compartment. The highly trained medics remain with the patient in the isolated patient compartment while being driven to an EVD designated receiving facility.
Some of the additional PPE required includes a powered air purifying respirator (FM53-PAPR) with CBRNE rated air filters. All PSU and PTU members are well versed in the safe donning and doffing of a TYCHEM suit, BUTYL gloves and over boots, all sealed with CHEM tape. After completion of patient transfer of care, the vehicle and Paramedics involved, will return to the Ottawa Paramedic Service headquarters to be decontaminated appropriately. Specific strategies were drafted by our Regulatory Compliance Officer in order to prevent exposures or contamination and assure operator safety. The decontamination process is performed by additional PSU or PTU members; one member who fulfills the role of a Decontamination Technician, while the second serves as a Safety Officer/rapid intervention for any medical emergency that may arise. These additional members are dressed in the appropriate level of PPE and will see the process through to completion. The entire event remains under constant supervision until all personnel involved are decontaminated, safe, cleaned and rehabilitated as required.
Working closely with many local health stakeholders such as the Ottawa Hospital and Ottawa Public Health, the Ottawa Paramedic Service's HRTU program successfully provides a sense of security for paramedics across the city knowing that help was on the way and the Service was standing behind them in these exceptionally difficult times.
Urban Search and Rescue (USAR)
A number of Ottawa Paramedics have participated in allied agency joint training with federal Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) units. This unit has additional training for disaster response, confined space rescue and building collapses.
Unfortunately, the federal government is no longer funding USAR, although we still have trained paramedics who can be tapped into for knowledge if a building collapse or earthquake were to occur.