For many of those in St. Peters, Missouri advanced life-saving medical care is now closer than ever before. Central County Fire & Rescue (CCFR), one of the busiest fire protection districts in the region is now offering paramedic-level emergency medical care.
For years, every CCFR firefighter was trained as an emergency medical technician (EMT) with the ability to provide basic life support. In November 2016 the community approved Proposition L to transition to a higher level of emergency medical care – advanced life support, which is provided by paramedics. Paramedics can administer medications, start IVs, secure airways and provide more advanced medical monitoring. It takes 1,000 hours of training to become a paramedic, and 144 to become an EMT.
“The level of care we can now provide will save more lives. For example, if we arrive on a call for a heart attack today we can monitor heart rhythms, electrically control an unstable heartbeat, pace a patient’s heart rate and get them back into normal heart rhythm, start an IV, administer medication and secure an open airway if needed. In the past all we could do was check vital signs and use an automated defibrillator to shock a heart back into a rhythm after the heart has stopped and provide CPR,” says CCFR Chief Dan Aubuchon.
Over the past year, District leadership has worked to secure the proper licensure, established medical protocols with the St. Charles County Ambulance District (SCCAD), and researched and purchased the proper medical equipment to best meet the needs of the community.
“It is important for our medical processes and procedures to mirror those of SCCAD so we can provide seamless care when working with their paramedics in an emergency situation,” says Aubuchon.
During the process, the District’s 16 existing paramedics have completed more than 100 hours of emergency medical training to update their advanced cardiac, advanced medical, pre-hospital trauma and pediatric life support skills. Team members are also participating in unique medical training opportunities such as a hands-on cadaver education program for medical professionals at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine.
“In a medical emergency seconds can make a difference between life and death. As we implement this new program we want to ensure our team has the most advanced training to meet the emergency medical needs of the community. In addition to hours of training, each paramedic has met with the medical director and demonstrated that he can provide this high-quality care,” says Aubuchon.
In addition to the 15 existing paramedics, four CCFR firefighter-EMTs are in paramedic training school and all new District hires must be certified paramedics. The District is working toward having a minimum of one paramedic on each fire truck, during each shift.