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Division of Special Operations


The Division of Special Operations (DSO) provides central command and coordination of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institution’s field emergency medicine operations and special event medical services. The mission of the DSO is to promote education, research and clinical excellence for the emergency medical care of patients in austere and complex, out-of-hospital environments.

Since its formal inception in 2002, DSO has evolved into a central resource within the Department of Emergency Medicine for advisory, logistical and operational support of clinical care in challenging and unconventional venues.

Specific DSO programs and responsibilities include:

  • Medical direction for ground and air critical care patient transport.
  • Law enforcement medical direction and tactical medical support.
  • Medical direction and oversight of prehospital emergency medical services systems.
  • Special event medical services and mass gathering operational support.
  • Disaster support and emergency preparedness.
  • Telemedicine and remote access emergency consultation services.
  • Specialty training in pre- and out-of-hospital medicine including resident EMS rotations, Focused Advanced Specialty Training (FAST) for senior emergency medicine residents and oversight of the Johns Hopkins Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Fellowship and the Johns Hopkins Tactical Medicine Fellowship.
  • Faculty of the Division of Special Operations are extensively involved in prehospital Emergency Medical Services and serve as EMS Physicians and Medical Directors for a number of major jurisdictional, operational and educational EMS programs. Core EMS related activities include participation in state-wide EMS protocol development and regional medical direction activities with the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems.

    DSO physicians provide medical direction and oversight for several Emergency Medical Services systems in Maryland and around the National Capital Region including:

    • Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services;
    • Carroll County Department of Fire and EMS;
    • University of Maryland-Baltimore County, Department of Emergency Health Services, Paramedic Training Program; and
    • The James J. Rowley Training Center (Beltsville, MD)

    In conjunction with EMS programs, DSO physicians and staff routinely advise, participate and support emergency medical care at regional mass gathering events including the Maryland State Police Polar Bear Plunge amongst many others.

  • The Johns Hopkins LIFELINE Critical Care Transport Program is the oldest and most experienced specialty emergency transport system of its kind in the state of Maryland. This hospital-based program was primarily designed to provide Advanced Life Support and Critical Care services for patients referred by physicians to the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions from throughout region and around the country. Since its inception in 1992, emergency medicine physicians have been centrally involved in the development, administration and management of this highly complex and successful program.

    Today, the medical direction and oversight for LIFELINE continues to draw from the faculty and fellows of the Division of Special Operations. DSO physicians provide 24/7 medical control and consultation for LIFELINE providers in transport through HOPCOMM, the comprehensive emergency communications center for the system. LIFELINE remains dedicated to the delivery of the highest level of safe, cost-effective and efficient patient transport into the Johns Hopkins Health System with a commitment to professional excellence.

    Read a detailed description of the comprehensive transport services provided by LIFELINE.

  • Johns Hopkins Emergency Medicine has provided dedicated medical oversight and direction for law enforcement since 1999.  In 2004, Johns Hopkins developed an advanced program to support the specialized needs of Tactical Medics assigned to SWAT and Special Response Teams.  In 2007, the Johns Hopkins University Center for Emergency Medicine was established within this infrastructure as a collaborative initiative between Johns Hopkins and its allied law enforcement agency partners. Today, the Center for Law Enforcement Medicine stands capable of assisting with the development of all aspects of law enforcement operational medicine programs and is a model for such medical direction and support nationally.

    Roles and functions of the Center for Law Enforcement Medicine include:

    • Agency-wide medical oversight and comprehensive medical direction including continuous 24/7 direct medical control.
    • Development and validating agency-wide emergency response guidelines and policies.
    • Training and continuing education for law enforcement medical providers.
    • Hospital and prehospital venues for clinical training and proficiency of patient care skills.
    • Advanced training for operational medical providers with expanded scopes of practice in the operational setting, as appropriate.
    • Operational medical support for high-risk missions and National Special Security Events.
    • Logistical and operational readiness support in the form of acquisition of medical equipment and pharmaceuticals.
    • Referral and coordination of affiliated law enforcement personnel to specialty and subspecialty medical services throughout the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions and Health System.

    Specially trained physicians, physician assistants, nurses and paramedics from Johns Hopkins have been deployed to dozens of high-risk field operations such as:

    • International medical support missions for direct care of both protectees and protective detail personnel.
    • Medical response teams at high-profile domestic mass gatherings and designated National Special Security Events.
    • Tactical medical support of missions including high-risk warrant service, fugitive apprehension, barricade and hostage extended operations, civil disturbance preparedness and executive protection.

Faculty and Staff

Affiliate and Part-Time Faculty


  • Lisa Steiner, M.M.S., PA-C

Contact Us

Nelson Tang, M.D., FACEP
Director, Division of Special Operations
Department of Emergency Medicine
The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
5801 Smith Avenue
Davis Building - Suite 3220
Baltimore, MD 21209
(410) 735-6400
(410) 735-6425 (fax)
email:  [email protected]

Nina Bingham, RN, BSN
Program Manager, Division of Special Operations
Department of Emergency Medicine
The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
5801 Smith Avenue
Davis Building - Suite 3220
Baltimore, MD 21209
(410) 735-6400
(410) 735-6425 (fax)
email:  [email protected]

Please see the individual faculty profiles to contact DSO Faculty & Staff directly.

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