Life support policy may change for Sioux Falls firefighters
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Sioux Falls Fire Rescue is preparing a new approach to emergency response by permitting trained firefighters to administer advanced life support when ambulances are tied up.
Firefighters are certified emergency medical technicians (EMT) and can administer basic life support. But only Paramedics Plus can currently administer advanced life support, such as breathing tubes, IV fluid therapy or other critical care medications.
Sioux Falls Fire Rescue Chief Brad Goodroad told the Argus Leader that the department is working to create new protocols to allow firefighters trained as paramedics to administer the same life-saving measures as Paramedics Plus staff. It’s a change to a policy that currently leaves some patients stuck waiting for emergency medical care.
“This is a huge step so our (SFFR) paramedics don’t have to stand there and watch someone die waiting for an ambulance to come,” Councilman Pat Starr said. “It’s an incredible move and it’s time.”
Goodroad said that in communities that use this approach, firefighter medics and the private transport agency train together and understand each other’s operation. He said that’s how he envisions it working in Sioux Falls.
This approach may affect the budget, as it would require equipping trucks and fire houses with advanced life support equipment. It could also lead to a new wage scale or rank for firefighter paramedics. Goodroad said more planning and preparation is needed before adopting the approach.
He said it makes sense to coordinate the initiative with next year’s contract agreement with Sioux Falls Firefighters Association, the union representing Sioux Falls Fire Rescue employees.
“This is the time to really pursue it and understand what it is,” Goodroad said. “We’ve vetted it to the point where we’re at least approved to explore the rest of this.”
Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com