National Medical Disaster Assistance Team helps Upstate in the emergency department, reducing wait times

SYRACUSE, NY (WSYR-TV) — Thirty-one new faces from across the country walked into Upstate Medical University Monday, ready to serve, and their welcome was more than warm.

“The integration of our employees with theirs, which generally takes 3-4 days, happened in about 36 hours. For 36 hours it was as if we had worked here forever.”

timothy tackett, commander of the national emergency medical response team

The team, which includes physicians, pharmacists, advanced health professionals, nurses, paramedics and logistics personnel, provides support in every aspect of Upstate’s emergency department to decompress patient volume and reduce wait times.

“When a team like this comes in, they can free up our staff and free up space by providing immediate patient care, opening beds, unloading ambulances faster, getting people out of waiting rooms,” said Upstate chief of emergency medicine, Dr. William Paulo.

Their presence was felt almost immediately. The national team has halved the time it takes to get a patient from an ambulance to the hospital within the first 24 hours of arrival.

“It allows us to perform the function and work as we would expect. That didn’t work out because we have fewer people than we normally would,” said Dr. paolo.

The federal team has been a breath of fresh air for the Upstate workforce at a time when Dr. Paolo says he sees many more cases of coronavirus entering the emergency room, similar to last year’s peak.

But Tackett said Syracuse isn’t alone, and his team has seen similar situations in hospitals from coast to coast.

“What we see here is no different from the last 10 places I’ve been; it is a virtual breakdown.”


The national team hopes to ride this current COVID-19 wave in Syracuse so they can leave Upstate in a better place than they found it.

The National Disaster Medical Assistance Team is expected to leave Upstate on Jan. 14, but could be extended if needed.

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