May 23, 2006

Rick Cushman
(215) 349-5659


Penn Emergency Department Physician Appointed Emergency Medical Services
Medical Director for Philadelphia Fire Department

(Philadelphia, PA) – C. Crawford Mechem, MD, Attending Physician in the Emergency Department of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP), has been appointed Medical Director for the Philadelphia Fire Department’s Emergency Medical Service (EMS) for the ninth consecutive year. The position is responsible for overseeing the medical care provided by the city’s 260 paramedics and 1,000 emergency medical technicians (EMTs).

Philadelphia’s EMS Unit is responsible for administering a two-tiered system of pre-hospital emergency medical care and transport, which includes Advanced Life Support Units and First Responder Engine and Ladder Companies. In addition, the EMS Unit assists in formulating plans for emergency-medicine physicians to respond to the scene of multi-casualty incidents to assist with patient triage, treatment, and disposition.

“I provide medical input on all the EMS operations for the Fire Department,” said Mechem. “It’s a tough job in general, but I really enjoy working with the people. Being a paramedic or an EMT is a job very few people would want to do and these people do it for their whole careers. I really respect that.”

Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers has nothing but respect for Mechem’s work with the Fire Department. “The Philadelphia Fire Department is pleased to have C. Crawford Mechem continue as the Medical Director for the Philadelphia Fire Department's Emergency Medical Services (EMS) division. Dr. Mechem has led our paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) for nearly a decade and has taken the Department and its members through several levels of improvements in education and professionalism. He has been a steady guide through turbulent times in a system experiencing increased demand for emergency medical services in our city. The Department is pleased to continue with Dr. Mechem as we plan for continued improvement in the service delivery to our fellow citizens.”

Mechem will continue to split his time between HUP, the city’s EMS Command Hospital, and Fire Department Headquarters.

“HUP’s reputation for excellence and our strong commitment to emergency medicine makes having a Penn physician in this role a natural choice,” Mechem explained.

In the event a disaster was to strike Philadelphia, Mechem would become a key player. “The city’s response plan is broken up into several parts, but if there was a large-scale, long-term emergency such as a structural collapse similar to 9/11 in New York City, I would be on the scene supervising the medical effort,” Mechem said. “The Fire Department is responsible for incidents involving chemical acts of terrorism, large-scale collapses, bombings, things of that nature. However, if it’s more of a biological threat, then the Health Department takes over.”

In his 12 years as an attending physician in HUP’s Emergency Department, Mechem has been involved with numerous activities aimed at improving the hospital’s preparations for a large-scale emergency. Some of those activities include chairing the Emergency Preparedness Subcommittee of the Safety Committee and being HUP’s contact for the National Disaster Medical System.


PENN Medicine is a $2.9 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and high-quality patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Penn's School of Medicine is ranked #2 in the nation for receipt of NIH research funds; and ranked #3 in the nation in U.S.News & World Report's most recent ranking of top research-oriented medical schools. Supporting 1,400 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System includes three hospitals [Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, which is consistently ranked one of the nation's few "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S.News & World Report; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first hospital; and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center]; a faculty practice plan; a primary-care provider network; two multispecialty satellite facilities; and home care and hospice.

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