by Christie Knudsen, South Trail Public Education Specialist
The South Trail Fire & Rescue article last month gave tips for helping firefighters reach you as quickly as possible in a medical emergency. However, residents new to the South Trail District may have questions about why a fire truck and ambulance both respond when you call 9-1-1 for a medical emergency. Because of logistics and resources, a dual response to medical calls provides the best level of care and service to residents.
Both South Trail Fire & Rescue and Lee County EMS provide the same high level of advanced life support emergency medical services, but the fire truck does not transport patients to the hospital. When transporting and transferring a patient to the hospital, an ambulance is out of service, sometimes for quite a while. In contrast, the fire truck immediately goes back into service after a call and becomes available for another call. Therefore, the fire truck is often available to respond faster than the ambulance, and time is a critical factor in medical emergencies.
In addition, South Trail fire trucks are strategically located at four fire stations for fastest response to all parts of the South Trail District. Lee County EMS has fewer ambulances stationed within the District and therefore the ambulance responds from greater distances. This is especially true in areas such as Gateway where the fire truck usually arrives well before the ambulance.
To provide you with not only the fastest emergency medical services, but the highest quality care, all South Trail firefighters are trained as Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and one-third of the firefighters are certified as Paramedics. As Paramedics, the firefighters provide advanced life support emergency medical care, for example starting IVs and administering emergency medication. Five South Trail fire trucks are certified by The State of Florida as Advanced Life Support (ALS), meaning that they carry the same emergency medication and medical equipment as Lee County EMS, and that they are staffed by a Paramedic/firefighter and at least one EMT/firefighter.
Some medical emergencies, such as cardiac arrests, require a large number of emergency medical personnel working together to save lives. In medical emergencies, South Trail Paramedic and EMT firefighters work with Lee County EMS as a team, and follow the same medical treatment protocol. If necessary, a firefighter/medic rides along in the ambulance to help the EMS medic with patient treatment during transport.
In 2015, South Trail firefighters responded to 5,533 emergency medical calls so chances are that you will see a fire truck responding to a medical emergency in your neighborhood. You will also know that the patient is receiving the best in emergency medical care.
For more information, go to southtrailfire.org or call 239-936-5281. The monthly meeting of the South Trail Fire & Rescue District commissioners is September 19, at 5:30 p.m. The tentative budget hearing is scheduled for September 8 at 5:30 p.m., and the final budget hearing is scheduled for September 19 at 5:15 p.m. All meetings are held at Station 63, 5531 Halifax Avenue. The public is invited.