Alumnus Profile: Scott Coyne, MD’77

Dr. Scott Coyne moonlighted as a police officer in Long Island on weekends as a SUNY Downstate med student, reading JAMA in the precinct on his coffee breaks. He worked 20 years as a hospital radiologist before returning to public safety, and is now the Suffolk County Police Department’s innovative Chief Surgeon and Medical Director.

Dr. Coyne’s medical career took its unexpected turn January 25, 1990 when he ended up the first doctor on the scene of the Avianca airline crash in Cove Neck, New York. Decades later, he’s won national awards for starting a program to train every Suffolk County police officer to be certified as an EMT, dramatically shortening medical response times.

He was named Physician of Excellence for New York State EMS in 2016, presented annually by the New York State Department of Health and the New York State EMS Council to a physician of exceptional dedication and experience in the pre-hospital environment. He also received the REMSCO 2015 EMS Physician of Excellence Award for Suffolk County.

Avianca jet crash
Dr. Coyne was driving to work at Glen Cove Community Hospital (now Northwell Health) in 1990 when he encountered a barricade. An officer saw Dr. Coyne’s medical license plates and said, “We have a commercial jetliner down about a mile down the road. Would you please go up? We have very limited medical response at this time.”

A jet from Bogota carrying 180 passengers had run out of fuel and crashed near Cold Spring Harbor in western Long Island. Dr. Coyne got into a police car, and traveled a mile to the scene. There, the board-certified diagnostic radiologist who sub-specialized in interventional radiology, the Glen Cove Chairman of Radiology, began to triage and treat plane crash victims.

“There were one or two ambulances there at the most, and they were starting to bring people off the jet,” Dr. Coyne said. “We had all these stretchers, and people were being carried, and we put them down in the large area, and at one point before too long, I had 30 patients. I was there alone at that site for at least an hour before the other doctors got there, and I would say we saved a lot of patients’ lives. Some were deceased, obviously, because of trauma, but that certainly got me on my road to pre-hospital care. EMS care.”

Because there was no fuel on the plane and, therefore, no fire, 90 passengers survived.

Medical SWAT team
Dr. Coyne was invited to join the Suffolk County Police in 1992 to oversee the county Medical Evaluation Bureau, a team of doctors who tended injured officers and civilians, and determined their duty status. Then, his medical career changed course again.

“After 9/11, things radically changed. After that, the goal was preparedness and response,” Dr. Coyne said. “I was at 9/11 on the third day, and it was an overwhelming situation. Seeing the devastation of lives—it was beyond comprehension.”

In 2008, he began working with the county’s Homeland Security office, and got permission to develop Suffolk’s unique Medical Crisis Action Team (MEDCAT). He oversaw the first 15 advanced life support EMT/police officers trained at the paramedic level for New York State, a “medical SWAT team.” The team now numbers 29.

“I work with some very talented people in Homeland Security, and they were developing their own plan for preparedness, but I was developing the medical plan,” he said. “I took a good number of officers out of service for six months to train them up to ALS critical care level, and they all passed their exams so they became similar to paramedics.”

As medical director for the Suffolk County Police Academy, Dr. Coyne is responsible for all educational basic and Advanced Life Support EMT programs, according to the Suffolk County Police. He’s trained thousands of Suffolk County police officers and Fire/EMS personnel to provide care during high risk operations such as active shooter situations.

All Suffolk patrol officers are New York State-certified EMTs, a very unique distinction.

“The Suffolk County Police Department is fortunate to count among its assets the expertise and knowledge of Dr. Scott Coyne,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy D. Sini said. “Since his start with the department, Dr. Coyne has facilitated the implementation of life-saving programs that have helped improve the safety and well-being of Suffolk residents.”

In 2012, Dr. Coyne also spearheaded a Narcan program to combat heroin and opiate overdoses, according to Suffolk Police. From 2012 to 2016, officers administered Narcan 650 times to reverse overdose. The New York State Attorney General selected the SCPD Narcan Program as a model for law enforcement throughout New York State, and in 2014, the US Attorney General hailed the program as a model for law enforcement Narcan programs nationwide.

De-escalating confrontation
Dr. Coyne also led the creation of policy and protocol involving mental health emergencies. “We started about five years ago to give a module of mental health education to our officers as part of their basic training,” Dr. Coyne said. “We give them techniques to deal with the mental health patient, the agitated patient, the potentially dangerous patient. We teach them the de-escalation techniques so we can get control of the situation.”

The department has a detailed protocol to guide officers to a right determination of danger, and where to take the person for care – a local hospital or a center at Stony Brook Hospital, for more serious risks.

“I’m proud because we do respond to thousands of calls,” Dr. Coyne said. “Thousands. If you listen to the police radio, you’d be shocked about how many calls we receive for agitated people – out of control individuals.”

Homeland Security
People associate “homeland security” with an attack on a stadium, for instance, with a federal response. It’s actually any threat to public safety that requires a coordinated local response. “When 9/11 happened, there was no FBI on the scene,” Dr. Coyne said. “There was the NYPD and the FDNY. I realized as Chief Surgeon, if something happens, like a major terrorist strike, that we are for a long time going to be the only responders. We had to set up a system of response so we could coordinate patient care triage treatment and then transport to multiple hospitals, which is what happened with Avianca.”

On a smaller scale, “There are automatic weapons, every town area has a mall somewhere, a church,” he said. “You don’t need a stadium.”

We tend to compartmentalize roles – police department, fire department and hospital, Dr. Coyne said, but public safety is public health.

One third of the emergency calls the police department receives over the radio in their patrol cars are medical-related, Dr. Coyne said, whether it’s a psychiatric emergency, trauma from a car accident, a bee sting with allergic reaction, a heart attack, stroke or diabetic shock.

“With that in mind, I’ve expanded the roles of the police officers throughout Suffolk County to enable them to respond more effectively to pre-hospital emergency medical calls,” Dr. Coyne said.

In 2012, James Holmes shot 12 people to death in a Colorado movie theater and injured dozens.

“EMS does not come into these situations, so all of the responsibility for neutralizing and or addressing the threat of a shooter or bomber is a police function,” he said. “But since EMS does not come into these situations, the police have a dual responsibility of taking care of the victims. Nobody else is going to do it.”

Dr. Coyne said he’s amazed by how his career has evolved. “If someone would have told me almost 40 years ago that this is what I would be doing, I wouldn’t believe it,” he said. “I’m working harder now than I ever did before.”

His Downstate classmates may remember a slightly younger Scott Coyne, the police officer with his nose in a textbook. “I look back all the time on my education at Downstate,” he said. “When you’re going through it it’s tough, but when you look back – it was such a wonderful education.”

Scott Coyne, MD
Dr. Coyne is a member of Suffolk County Regional EMS Council, the Suffolk County Regional

Emergency Medical Advisory Council and the New York State Regional Trauma Committee for Suffolk County. He is EMS Medical Director for the Lakeland and Holbrook Fire Departments, a Suffolk County EMS Field Physician and the EMS physician for Cold Spring Harbor Fire Department. He is also the Vice Chair of the Police Physicians Section of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. He is appointed by the Governor and serves on the Medical Review Board of the State Commission of Correction.

“It has been my distinct honor to serve the Suffolk residents and all of the members of the Suffolk County Police Department every day,” Dr. Coyne said. “It has truly been the highlight of my professional career, and I look forward to many more years of continued service to our county and our great police department.”


Alumni Today 2017 Edition

Note from the Executive Director, Eric T. Shoen-Ukre: 

Our 2017 Alumni Today magazine is arriving in mailboxes as we speak. We are grateful for the hard work that our editor, Constance Shames, MD ’63 puts into making this magazine a reality.  She volunteers her time to do the majority of the work on the magazine and single-handedly makes all of the editorial decisions for the contents.  You can click here to read an electronic copy of the 2017 issue of our magazine: and to see links to some of our previous issues.

Please continue to email any class notes to, or to mail them to our office so they can be included in our email newsletter and printed in the next (2018) issue of Alumni Today.

Alumni Books, Articles, & Publications

“Don’t forget – no one else sees the world the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell.” – Charles de Lint


Have you or another alumnus/a you know authored a novel? Successfully submitted an article for publication and would like it highlighted in an alumni newsletter? Wrote a piece of poetry that you would like to share? Had a magazine feature you were especially excited about?  If the answer is YES, to any of these questions you should consider informing the Alumni Association!

The Alumni Association is calling out for any publications written by the SUNY Downstate College of Medicine alumni. Your books, article and/or publications will be featured in our office if you submit them. Please mail us two copies when you submit, one copy will be given to the SUNY Downstate library and the other copy will be on display in the Alumni Association. With a growing library of alumni books, we hope to continue this growth with new submissions from the year of 2016-2017.

If you are cognizant of any alumni piece please do not hesitate to call us at 718-270-2075 or email us at


SUNY Downstate News Digest, Sept. 15, 2016


Shaundelle Moore Goldsmith, JD, director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, has been recognized with the Diversity Visionary Award from INSIGHT into Diversity magazine. The award honors individuals who have made significant contributions to diversity in higher education. Read more from SUNY Downstate, here.

Ayman Fanous, MD, has been named professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry at SUNY Downstate Medical Center. Dr. Fanous was most recently a staff psychiatrist and chief of the Psychiatric Genetics Research Program at the Washington DC VA Medical Center, as well as associate professor of psychiatry at the Georgetown University School of Medicine. Read more from SUNY Downstate, here.

Marilyn A. Fraser, MD, has been named chief executive officer of The Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health (AAIUH), succeeding Ruth C. Browne, ScD, MPP, MPH, founding chief executive officer of AAIUH, who has accepted a new position as president and chief executive officer of Ronald McDonald House New York. Read more on new CEO, Marilyn A. Fraser MD, here. Read more about Dr. Ruth Browne and the Ronald McDonald House, here.

SUNY Downstate’s Richard Rosenfeld, MD, recommends shared decision-making in treating adult sinusitis. The article, appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine, stresses minimal use of antibiotics. Read more from SUNY Downstate, here.

SUNY Downstate Medical Center’s Vice President for Faculty Affairs and Professional Development Joseph P. Merlino, MD, MPA, has been named to the Fellows Ambassador Program of the New York Academy of Medicine. Dr. Merlino, who is also professor of psychiatry at SUNY Downstate, was among seven persons chosen this year from the Academy’s prestigious membership of more than 2,000 experts from across the professions affecting health. Read more from SUNY Downstate, here.

SUNY Downstate Medical Center’s Clinical Associate Professor of Pathology and Medicine Maja Nowakowski, PhD, has been appointed by the Israeli Council of Higher Education to serve as a member of the International Committee for Review and Evaluation of Medical Laboratory Science Training Programs in Israel. Read more from SUNY Downstate, here.

Read the latest news on SUNY Downstate medical alumni, here.


Downstate Student Publishes, Experimental Neurology

SUNY Downstate medical student John Odackal published research initially funded by alumni giving

John won an Alumni Fund Summer Research Grant in 2013, which launched the research published in Experimental Neurology 273 (2015), pp 105-113. The project extended for years beyond with data collection, writing and revision.

Read the full article, here: T-type calcium channels contribute to calcium disturbances in brain during hyponatremia, Odackal


John is an MS4 entering Internal Medicine at UVa in June, 2016, with the goal of pulmonology/critical care

Receiving the Summer Research Grant was “incredibly important,” he said. “It connected me to a fantastic mentor (Dr. Sabina Hrabetova) and led to several additional research experiences, including a year-long project at Columbia, also funded by the Alumni Association.”

The research has been invaluable educationally, and is a significant contribution to medicine.

“The work argues that hyponatremia, an incredibly common electrolyte abnormality, might influence calcium regulation in brain,” John said. “If substantiated in humans, which requires in-vivo studies and human studies, the work might influence how we screen/treat hyponatremia, especially in the elderly.”



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SUNY Downstate, Kings County Hosptial presentation: Proximal Small Bowel Obstruction and Strongyloides

Strongyloides final edit

Strongyloides stercoralis, a parasitic helminth, affects an estimated 100 million people worldwide. The parasite is commonly known to cause abdominal pain and diarrhea especially in tropical and subtropical endemic areas such as Southeast Asia, Latin America, Sub-Saharan African, and parts of the southeastern United States.

Presented by Roger C. Cui, Scott Dougan, Patricia Leung, MD, Thomas McIntyre, MD

The SUNY Downstate College of Medicine Alumni Association supported this presentation given at the spring 2015 ASiT Conference in Glasgow by reimbursing student travel expenses.

Alumni donations made travel possible for two dozen Downstate medical students presenting at national and international conferences in 2014.

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Article by Peter Lenehan, MD, ’84, SUNY Downstate alumnus: Generation and External Validation of a Tumor-Derived 5-Gene Prognostic Signature for Recurrence of Lymph Node-Negative, Invasive Colorectal Carcinoma


One in 4 patients with lymph node-negative, invasive colorectal carcinoma (CRC) develops recurrent disease after undergoing curative surgery, and most die of advanced disease. Predicting which patients will develop a recurrence is a significantly growing, unmet medical need.


To the authors’ knowledge, the 5-gene rule (OncoDefender-CRC) is the first molecular prognostic that has been validated in both stage I CRC and stage II colon cancer. It outperforms standard clinicopathologic prognostic criteria and obviates the need to retrieve ≥12 lymph nodes for accurate prognostication. It identifies those patients most likely to develop recurrent disease within 3 years after curative surgery and, thus, those most likely to benefit from adjuvant treatment. Cancer 2012. © 2012 American Cancer Society.

Click here for entire article: Lenehan et al., Cancer 2012 (1) (1)


This chart illustrates the ability of the 5-gene molecular signature to differentiate lymph node-negative, invasive colorectal cancer (CRC) tumors in the external validation set (n = 264) for patients at “low risk” versus patients at “high risk” of developing a recurrence within 36 months after surgery. CI indicates confidence interval; HR indicates hazard ratio.

Downstate medical alumni and students! We would love to feature your peer-reviewed publications and presentations given at national conferences. Contact us at

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