Changes in fire, EMS response should improve service, make streets safer

Hutchinson Fire and Reno County EMS officials have begun implementing changes on how emergency responders react to local fire and medical calls, potentially upgrading emergency medical care while lowering the risk of the response itself.

The leadership of both agencies has changed in the past year, and through regular joint meetings, officials have identified multiple areas for improvement, reported EMS Chief Terry David. For example, under city policy, to be a Hutchinson firefighter requires training as an emergency medical technician.

Yet, said David and Hutchinson Fire Chief Steve Beer, local firefighters have not been authorized to use basic EMT skills on emergency calls for some time.

Beer, who arrived in February from Wisconsin, was not sure why the restrictions were in place, but said for most firefighters their medical certifications have now expired.

“Most are EMTs, which is the base level for assisting first responders,” Beer said.

As the department recertifies individual firefighters, the responders will now be allowed to practice skills authorized by their license, such as administering a blood test for a diabetic or someone who is unconscious, or administering certain drugs or other treatments.

“I think our goal is by the end of this year to get people trained and get the additional skills,” Beer said. “As they train on each skill, we will implement it into the fire department.”

The practice also requires implementing treatment protocols that are uniform for all first aid providers, which a medical control officer develops and monitors.

Besides uniform treatment processes, they also need unvarying equipment, “to make sure our equipment matches (what’s used by) paramedics,” Beer said.

“The goal is to allow our firefighters to do everything the state allows under their training for an EMT, skill-wise, and to continue to work with a great Reno County EMS and their paramedics, to assist them and work together to get the best outcome we can.”

(Read more: Local – The Hutchinson News)