NYP-EMS maintains an outstanding Medical Decontamination Unit and Hazardous Materials Decontamination Team, coordinating its activities with the Mayor's Office of Emergency Management, FDNY, and the NY State Department of Health (NYSDOH) nd New York City Departments of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) for readiness in case of either actual emergency need or elevated threat levels. In 2003, NYP-EMS expanded its Hazardous Materials and Weapons of Mass Destruction training and certification programs to include the Emergency Department staffs at the NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, and NewYork-Presbyterian/Allen Hospital. Over 1,000 NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital employees were trained to the Hazardous Materials/Weapons of Mass Destruction Awareness, Operations, and Technician-level between 2003 and 2005. NYP-EMS personnel are certified in the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) against chemical, biological, and nuclear materials, and in the use of specific antidotes to poisoning from these and other weapons of mass destruction. The equipment used by NYP-EMS became the standard for decontamination and PPE now in use at all NewYork-Presbyterian emergency departments, and provides for a totally integrated continuum of training, response, and materials for protection against and decontamination of hazardous materials.
In recognition of the expanded role played by first responders in disaster management and mutual-aid situations, the decontamination team was re-named the NewYork-Presbyterian EMS Special Operations Team and has expanded training to include disaster communications and incident command/incident management techniques. In addition, several NYP-EMS personnel attended an intensive three-day training program in November 2006 where special operations team members and supervisors participated in technical rescue training with New York State-certified instructors. These new skills can be applied in many rescue situations and in concert with fire and police specialty units in New York and across the country.