Can a nurse be part of the Special Operations and Response Team (SORT)?

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    Hello, I was wondering if anyone had an information on the SORT team in the BOP. I wanted to know if it was possible for te SORT team to have a nurse on board. The Special Operations and Response Team (SORT) are, from what I have understood, like the SWAT team of the Federal Prisons. Any and all information on this would be greatly appreciated.

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  2. 16 Comments...

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    I believe that I have replied to this on another thread from you.

    In short, yes, nurses and mid-levels serve on the BOP's SORT team, which is our version of a SWAT team. Our nurses also qualify on firearms yearly. SORT has now integrated firearms into their tactics, as well as the more traditional use of chemical munitions.
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    Thanks BSN. And I dont believe we messaged each other before but thanks for confirming now. Seems like there is almost no limit to what nurses can go into. What is your personal take on the SORT team if you have been exposed to it? Thanks again.
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    SORT teams are now regional...each team covers several institutions. DCT (Disturbance Control Team) are located at each institution and have integrated many of the weapons and tactics that were once SORT-only. The idea is that DCT needs to be able to deal with problems that arise, and if the problem is very large to contain it until SORT can arrive.

    I am not part of either, though I thought about it...I am now Public Health Service and we cannot serve on the teams.

    Teams vary, because they are made up of people from the institutions. That said, I have seen several teams in exercises and have been impressed. If you want to be kicking in doors and throwing gas on a regular basis, though, this isn't that. DCT and SORT rarely get activated. Mostly, they train. However, our SORT and DCT have been called out to assist other prisons and in riot suppression such as in LA in the 90's.
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    Oh man, I was really hoping on being part of the Public Health Service AND being part of SORT. Thank you for letting me in on the details. What time of shifts do you work being part of the USPHS as a nurse and how often do you work weekends/nights/holidays? I completely understand the USPHS can call you in at any time to cover a shift at an institution that needs 24 hour healthcare coverage. Thanks again BSN, you are very helpful.
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    Yeah, PHS cannot be armed in the BOP. Though we could be militarized and armed attached to a military force, so go figure. Between the two, I'd rather be PHS and not SORT...$$$

    Shifts and schedules are completely a result of the mission and needs of the institution and what has been negotiated. Some use 24/7 coverage, some 16 hours of staffing, some 12 hours of staffing. It all depends on the needs. Medical centers, high acuity facilities, detention centers, and complexes (more than one prison at one site) tend to have staff on site 24 hours a day. Lower medical care level sites cover less of the day with someone on call the remainder of the time. My site has staffing on site 0600 to 2200 daily, while a lower acuity facility in our region has staff 0600 to 1800. Weekends are, again, related to needs and what has been negotiated. In essence, PHS will work a regular schedule as if they were civil service.

    With that said, there are supervisors who view PHS nurses as an unlimited resource to plug gaps and cover shifts. Thus, PHS nurses may be assigned to work 12 to 16 hours daily, everyday. However, as our PHS liason likes to say, just because you CAN do something doesn't mean that you SHOULD do something. Treating PHS nurses in this manner tends to lead to PHS nurses leaving the institution and other PHS nurses not coming to the institution. We have a lot of options, after all.

    I am lucky and have not experienced such treatment. I currently work a somewhat difficult schedule that involves two mornings and three evenings including one pair of days where I work until 2200 and then return at 0600...but everyone at the place has a similar schedule and it's not just PHS people being scheduled in that manner.

    Yes, PHS officers are "available for duty 24 hours a day" and thus it is tempting to call them first to cover a shift. Again, people vote with their feet and it is on the supervisor if all their PHS nurses leave over such things.

    Hope this helps. The best answer to what schedule you might work is to speak with the institution that you would work for. But, realize that anything can change at any time.
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    Quote from BSNinTX
    SORT teams are now regional...each team covers several institutions. DCT (Disturbance Control Team) are located at each institution and have integrated many of the weapons and tactics that were once SORT-only. The idea is that DCT needs to be able to deal with problems that arise, and if the problem is very large to contain it until SORT can arrive.

    I am not part of either, though I thought about it...I am now Public Health Service and we cannot serve on the teams.

    Teams vary, because they are made up of people from the institutions. That said, I have seen several teams in exercises and have been impressed. If you want to be kicking in doors and throwing gas on a regular basis, though, this isn't that. DCT and SORT rarely get activated. Mostly, they train. However, our SORT and DCT have been called out to assist other prisons and in riot suppression such as in LA in the 90's.
    I'm an LVN working in corrections. I've applied to become a member of the SORT team in my facility. The SORT team commander is excited about the prospect of adding medical personnel to the team. My supervisor, the Health Services Administrator for the facility, on the other hand, is NOT. He objects to the use of nurses on the SORT team on the basis that he feels it would compromise the nurse/patient relationship. I think that what he means is that a patient (inmate) would not confide information about his medical condition if he percieves the nurse to be a SORT team member. The assumption being that the inmate would consider the SORT team member an "enemy" and not reveal intimate details about his feelings or health due to an assumed ingrained hostility. What insight, if any, would you have on the subject?
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    Okay, here's my answer based on standards of care and guidance from people in the NCCHC, etc. Health care workers should make it abundantly clear to the patients and the other staff thay they are health care providers and not custody personnel. As such, they should not be engaged in activities such as SORT, pat downs, area searches, forced cell moves, etc. etc. etc.

    The reality is that you are, and should, be just as engaged in the safety and security of the institution and yourself as any other person working in that environment. Likewise, I think the patients, rightly or wrongly, already assume that you are part of the "enemy" because you are one of the people in the institution who gets to go home at night. It's always an us-them thing; it's not as if health care staff exist in some mystical third party aloof from the custody staff and inmates.
    listeningangel likes this.
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    According to all standards for nurses in corrections, nurses are health care providers and should not participate in security functions such as you describe. Basically, you cannot serve two masters, in other words, you cannot punish and heal in the same person under your nursing license. you are legally bound to your state nursing license laws above all else. It is your individual responsibity to act ethically as a nurse under your license.
    There is no law that I am aware of that allows the federal government authority over the legal authority of your license. If you were ever caught in a situation where you had to defend your actions under your license, basically, the law would expect "you should have known".. It is a violation of the nurse-patient relationship to perform security functions. Nurses observe facility security regulations, not perform them, there is a big difference. Law enforcement personnel in security facilities have no legal authority whatsoever to determine what nursing functions should be, including the federal government.
    I agree with the other responses that you should educate yourself; best source is the National Commission on Correctional Healthcare standards,(check their website) and the standards for nurses in correctional facilties published by the American Nurses Association. You are responsible as an individual under your license to stay within your scope of practice. I can see where this may be a huge problem working in a federal facility as nurses think that whatever law enforcement invites them to do is OK. but it is far from OK. This problem has been going on for along time which is how these standards came about. They were developed over more than three decades by experts from medicine, nursing, legal and law enforcement personnel. Every nurse who continues to blindly act in this manner undermines decades of work to establish these standards and undermines patient care and the rights patients' retain while incarcerated. They are incarcerated patients to healthcare personnel. Federal facilities are not exempt legally fromthese standards or state licensure laws.
    betty boop23 and tbrd450 like this.
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    P.S. Kudos to the health facility administrator for communicating the appropriate role of the nurse. Facility health administrators are also responsible in their capacity to know the legal role and scope of nurses, both RN and LPN, and unlicensed nursing staff.
    Gook luck to you, hope you give this serious consideration.


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