EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES
EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES (EMS)
“Firefighters don’t just fight fires”
In the 1970’s a report commonly known as “the White Paper,” identified that accidental death from injuries as the “leading cause of death in the first half of life’s span.” The report identified that “if seriously wounded … chances of survival would be better in the zone of combat than on the average city street. Fast forward nearly 50 years to today, and since that report began the birth of EMS, todays Firefighters have become the primary rescuers and delivers of emergency medicine in our homes and in the streets.
Today nearly 80% of the RFA’s demand for emergency response are related to a medical emergency (heart attack, stroke, diabetic emergencies) or injuries from trauma (motor vehicle, falls, guns, violence) or other trauma causing incident. In fact, West Thurston firefighters (by design) are often the first to arrive in emergency medical and trauma related incidents and are specially trained and equipped to care for most medical and trauma related incidents.
Today West Thurston has developed advanced EMS systems that are designed to deliver on scene care while focusing on delivering the patient to definitive care as soon as possible.
West Thurston Regional Fire Authority delivers comprehensive Emergency Medical Services including Basic Life Support (BLS) patient treatment and transport. Advanced Life Support (ALS) services are delivered by Thurston County Medic One.
PATIENT TRANSPORT FAQ
WHY DID I RECEIVE A BILL FOR MY AMBULANCE TRANSPORT?
Approximately 15 years ago the RFA began to develop Patient Transport Services; when private ambulance left the region and relocated their ambulance from Littlerock Road to a more profitable city area. The relocation of private ambulance left a hole in the RFA’s rural response zone, which created unreasonable patient wait times for an ambulance to arrive to transport them to an area hospital. In an effort to fill the hole left by private ambulance, in 2003 Thurston County Fire District 1 and 11 combined resources to staff an ambulance, and began transporting residents of the fire district(s). Today the RFA staffs up to four 4 ambulances per day, which provides residents of the RFA the many benefits of improved patients door-to-door (from your front door to the hospital door) times and continuity of patients care, at the lowest cost in Thurston County and a lower cost than other residents living in most other fire districts. Today after recognizing the many patient care benefits, the RFA’s Patient Transport Services Program has become a model for many others in the region.
WHY DOES A FIRE ENGINE RESPOND TO A MEDICAL EMERGENCY?
When a heart stops, or a serious injury occurs…seconds count. The RFA strategically locates properly trained and equipped emergency medical technicians to arrive to your door in a timely manner. In most cases the closest appropriate fire department unit (Ambulance) will respond to the emergency location, however, sometimes the fire department unit(s) at the closest fire station may have already been called to help someone else; in this situation the next closest unit will be dispatched. If the next closest fire station has only a fire engine then that unit will respond to provide care until the closest ambulance or aid unit can arrive.
Additionally, more serious medical emergencies require a full team of responders. Consider cardiac arrest: while two people perform CPR, others establish IVs, set up a heart monitor, administer drugs, and bring a gurney to the patient’s side for transport. In these cases the RFA will send an Ambulance, Fire Engine and Battalion Officer to the incident to provide necessary care. Thurston County Medic One will also send a Medic Unit (ALS Unit) to these life-threatening emergencies.
WHY ARE THERE TWO AMBULANCES DISPATCHED ON A 911 CALL?
The RFA provides basic life support (BLS) and patient transportation, and Thurston County Medic One provides advanced life support (ALS) and patient transport. If a patient's medical emergency is determined to be life-threatening, the closest RFA unit will be dispatched (Ambulance or Fire Engine) and will begin patient care and assist the ALS unit when they arrive. In this case you will likely have more than one unit arrive to help.