San Bernardino County Fire is EMS Strong

SBFireBy Staff Reports

(Victor Valley)– May 17-23 is National Emergency Medical Service (EMS) week. The annual event is organized by the American College of Emergency Physicians in partnership with the National Association of EMT’s.

The San Bernardino County Fire Department is proud to be EMS Strong.

Attaining Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) status requires a rigorous program of classroom education, skills training and hands-on experience. Reaching paramedic status requires even more rigorous education, training and real world experience, and must be maintained with refresher training documented every two years.

An EMT is authorized to assess a patient’s vital signs, administer oxygen, operate automatic defibrillation equipment to control heartbeat, deliver babies, administer cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, splint fractures and dislocations, give first aid for bleeding and shock, and use long- and short-board devices. Long boards are used to carry a patient to an ambulance. Short board devices are used to extricate victims from vehicles in accident situations, and in other situations where space is limited.

To become a paramedic, a fully qualified EMT learns additional skills, such as starting intravenous injections and administering pain medications and drugs that assist and control heart function in emergencies. A paramedic candidate must also complete classroom education, training and assessments under the supervision of qualified paramedics. Once all program requirements are met, the candidate becomes licensed as a paramedic and receives local accreditation.

In 2014, County Fire launched its Ambulance Operator program. The pioneer program was designed to augment staffing levels by putting licensed medical responders in the field so that professional firefighters can return to service and provide a more effective work force to ensure the community is provided with the highest level of firefighting services.

The following year, County Fire began participating in a statewide pilot program designed to improve the quality of health care, Community Paramedicine (CP). San Bernardino County was one of twelve locations chosen to participate in this 12-18 month pilot program to study various aspects of CP.

County Fire, along with local healthcare partners, provides a post discharge follow-up visit to the patient’s home in order to perform a detailed physical assessment and ensure the patient is maintaining or improving their post hospital discharge status. During the follow-up visit, the community paramedic will also verify the patient understands the discharge instructions from their doctor, have and are taking their medications and have any follow-up appointments scheduled. Should the patient require further medical treatment, community paramedics assist the patient in accessing primary care or fulfilling their healthcare need.

San Bernardino County Fire Paramedics and EMTs respond to thousands of medical calls every year; in 2014 of the 146,000 calls County Fire received approximately 80 percent of them were medical calls. These calls range from fire injuries, traffic collisions, search and rescue calls, medical calls, and many more.

County Fire EMT’s and Paramedics also help our animal residents, not just humans. They have helped with rescues of family pets from burning homes, most recently four puppies from a house in Victorville, a horse that fell down a ravine, dogs that have gotten a little too adventurous and wandered into abandoned mines and wells, a kitten that fell down a storm drain and many more.

To learn more about the Ambulance Operator or Community Paramedicine programs, visit www.sbcfire.org. The San Bernardino County Fire Department is proud to offer you these unique programs.

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