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Electric cars speed emergency response time at MCCNO


Cedric Palmisano, EMT-P, special events & detail coordinator and EOC liaison with New Orleans EMS.

The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (MCCNO) has acquired new tools to help emergency management and security efforts. One of the major items is the Global Electric Motorcar (GEM), a street-level electric vehicle that functions as a miniature ambulance, equipped with an electric power cot, cardiac monitors, advanced life saving equipment and a medical bag.

The convention center’s exclusive medical provider, New Orleans EMS, is the sole 911 provider of emergency medical services (EMS) in Orleans Parish. They will be able to quickly deploy the vehicle from three permanent medical stations located throughout the convention center and maneuver through the building in response to medical emergency calls. New Orleans EMS provides pre-hospital emergency care to convention attendees during shows as well as MCCNO employees and decorators operating within the building during move-in and move-out periods.


“The GEM allows us to take the emergency room to the patient,” said Cedric Palmisano, EMT-P, special events and detail coordinator and emergency operations center liaison with New Orleans EMS. “It provides the patient with a seamless transition to the city ambulance. Once the city ambulance picks up the patient, the same protocol of care is continued.”


New Orleans EMS is equipped to provide service in cases where response time is critical, including advance cardiac life support, advance pediatric life support, pediatric emergency care and pre-hospital trauma life support.


“Continuity of care is the most important part of a patient’s outcome,” said Allen Bellow, a New Orleans EMS paramedic who is stationed at the convention center. “The GEM will help us reach the patient faster and begin care.”


The GEM is the most significant piece of equipment the MCCNO was awarded through a grant from the United States Department of Homeland Security via the City of New Orleans Department of Homeland Security.


According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the grant “provides funding to increase the preparedness capabilities of jurisdictions responsible for the safety and security of communities.”


Three years ago, Joseph Hebert, MCCNO public safety director, worked with the New Orleans Department of Homeland Security as they began the process of evaluating the grant request.


“A Threat Risk Assessment and a Vulnerabilities Study were conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New Orleans Fire Department and the New Orleans Police Department through the United States and New Orleans Homeland Security Offices,” said Hebert. “The Convention Center, being the State’s largest asset, was deemed as Protected Critical Infrastructure. Because of the high-profile events the Convention Center hosts, with more than 600,000 people passing through the doors each year, additional security equipment was awarded through the grant.”

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