Virginia Fire & Ambulance
Emergency Response Team
The Emergency Response Team (ERT) is a special weapons and tactics team that consists of approximately forty St.Louis County Sheriffs and ten members from the Virginia Fire Department. The County approached the fire department back in 1989 and asked for our medical assistance. The team and the medic component has flourished ever since. Not many fire departments offer participation with a SWAT team. It is a very unique opportunity that has served as a great recruitment and retention tool for several decades now.
The medic component of this team consists of ten total members. Our department Medical Director and nine firefighter/paramedics. Each medic completes a week-long tactical emergency medical services (TEMS) training course prior to officially joining this team. The team meets once a month for an eight-hour training. All members must be able to attend seven of these trainings and successfully complete an annual physical fitness test to remain eligible on the team. In 2020, the team had a new record of twelve team activations. We also respond via mutual aid to the majority of our surrounding county teams.
The training for ERT medics is vast. Not only do you have to maintain normal paramedic proficiencies, but also, you have to incorporate them into the tactic law enforcement environments. We focus on life-like scenarios, gunshot wound care, bleeding control and tourniquet use, self-care in a violent setting, team movements pertaining to an “officer-down” scenario, transport considerations, emergent airway maneuvers, casualty collection points and START triage (simple triage and rapid transport), to name a few. We also do an annual K9 medical care course to assist our K9 partners when in need.
We would like to thank all the past and present City of Virginia Officials and St. Louis County Sheriff Department members that have allowed us to partake with this team, and have paved the way for our continued success. It is truly an honor to be a part of.