SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV)– Thirty-one fresh faces from all across the country walked into Upstate Medical University Monday ready to serve, and their welcome was more than warm. 

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

timothy tackett, National disaster medical assistance team commander

The team composed of physicians, pharmacists, advanced healthcare practitioners, nurses, paramedics, and logistics staff are providing support in every aspect of the emergency department at Upstate to help decompress patient volume and lower wait times. 

“When a team like this comes in, what they’re able to do for us is free up our staff and free up space by providing direct patient care, opening beds, allowing us to offload ambulances faster, pull people out of the waiting room,” Chief of Emergency Medicine at Upstate, Dr. William Paolo said. 

Their presence was felt almost immediately. The national team was able to cut the time it takes for a patient to be brought into the hospital from an ambulance in half within the first 24 hours of arriving. 

“It allows us to perform the position and the job the way we would expect to do that. We haven’t been able to because we have less people than we would normally have,” Dr. Paolo said. 

The federal team has been a breath of fresh air for Upstate staff during a time when Dr. Paolo says he’s seeing many more cases of coronavirus come into the emergency room, similar to last year’s peak. 

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

“What we see here is not different from the last 10 places I’ve been; it’s a virtual carbon copy.”


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

The National Disaster Medical Assistance Team is scheduled to leave Upstate on January 14 but could be extended if needed.