Mount Vernon, WA– On January 5th, 2016 a group of 30+ citizens, Firefighters and Paramedics went before the Skagit County Commissioners to express serious concerns regarding the proposed changes to your EMS services in Skagit County.
The group of citizens and EMS workers believe that the residents of Skagit County deserve, at a minimum, a full assessment by the highest certified EMS providers available… Paramedics.
This is what the citizens of Skagit County voted for with an overwhelming 80% approval of a 2012 EMS levy lid increase. This is taxpayer money and there are some in the community that are questioning if it is going in the right place.
What does all of this mean for someone that does not work in the pre hospital Emergency Medical Field? This means that when you call 9-1-1, because you or someone you love is having a medical emergency, these EMS workers want to ensure the highest trained professionals, Paramedics show up to help you. Many people do not know that when you call 9-1-1, based on the criteria of your call, your call is dispatched as an aid call or a medical call based on what the caller tells the dispatcher. There are different levels of trained EMT’s that respond to 9-1-1 calls. There are also different fire apparatus that respond in conjunction with the EMS rigs depending on the nature of the call, location of the call and mechanism of the injury or illness.
The two main levels of EMT’s are the EMT-B’s or Basic Life Support (BLS), and EMT-P’s or Advanced Life Support Paramedics. Both have first aid training, and go through rigorous training and testing to get certified, but EMT-P’s or Paramedics can legally perform functions that EMT-B’s can not.
For comparison, in a hospital setting it would be the difference between having a nurse and a surgeon work on you. Both are highly trained, but the surgeon has a much higher level of training. If it was a life or death situation for you, would you want a nurse or the surgeon performing surgery on you to save your life?
Many people are also confused as to why two ambulances and sometimes a fire truck show up for a medical call. Most local rural volunteer Fire Districts have EMT-B’s and a Basic Life Support Ambulance that responds from the Fire Station with volunteer Firefighters or volunteer Firefighter/EMT-B’s. These EMT-B’s can get treatment started, and notify incoming ALS paramedic units about a patients condition until the Advanced Life Support, Paramedics Arrive. Many of the Ambulances used by Fire Districts are surplus rigs that have been passed down to Fire Districts from the Paramedics as new rigs are purchased. The ambulance that shows up in conjunction with the fire district rig, is an ALS or advanced Life support rig with the highly trained, life saving, Paramedics on board. A Fire Truck shows up for a variety of reasons. One reason could be, not all 9-1-1 calls are clear as to what is going on. Why is someone having a heart attack? Is it because their house is on fire? If so, you don’t want just an ambulance to show up. You want the ambulance, to help the patient, including a highly trained paramedic and a fire truck with firefighters to put out the fire. Fire Trucks also carry extrication tools, air bags, Oxygen tanks and many other tools that ambulances do not. Fire trucks are used to provide scene safety for first responders as well. They are placed at a scene in a manner that protects the first responders from being struck by a vehicle, especially if the ambulance crew is working on a highway or busy road.
Currently if Skagit County has more 9-1-1 medical calls then ambulances available, an ALS rig will split with a BLS rig and an EMT-P will partner with an EMT-B and both rigs will become Advanced Life Support Rigs. Usually a firefighter from the Fire District or City that has split will become the ambulance driver for the rig, while the two Paramedics work together on the patients.
There is much more to how the entire system works, and the citizens and Paramedics are concerned that the EMS director wants to change how the entire system works.
Here is a video of the January 5th, 2016 public comment period during the Skagit County Commissioners meeting to hear these citizens speak out.
Click Here to view the video of the hearing with County Commissioners. The video is 35 minutes long but worth a view.
Join these citizens and contact commissioners Ken Dahlstedt, Ron Wesen, and Lisa Janicki today. Tell them that your tax payer dollars for Paramedic services are not to be given away to a diluted lesser level of service.
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Mount Vernon, WA 98273