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Mass. FD improves EMS service with ALS-certified fire engine

Manchester-by-the-Sea firefighters had one of their fire engines certified as carrying ALS care


Manchester-by-the-Sea Fire Department

By Stephen Hagan
Gloucester Daily Times

MANCHESTER-BY-THE-SEA, Mass. — Stressing they hope never need to use their new skills, Manchester-by-the-Sea firefighters recently took part in Pediatric Advance Life Support (PALS) training.

The skills are aimed at supporting children suffering a variety of ailments, including possible cardiac arrest.

The training follows an announcement by Manchester Fire that as of Sept. 8, the department’s Engine 1 is now capable of paramedic-level care (ALS).

Advanced life support (ALS) is a set of life-saving protocols and skills that extend beyond basic life support (BLS). ALS is used to provide urgent treatment to cardiac emergencies such as cardiac arrest, stroke, myocardial infarction and other conditions.

“This endeavor would not be possible without the dedication of our firefighters,” reads the announcement. “Our department strives to provide the very best care to the citizens and visitors of Manchester.”

Fire officials say the new status of Engine 1 will ensure a continuity of care.

“When our only transporting ambulance is tied up on another call, we still have the ability to initiate lifesaving interventions.”

Fire Chief James McNeilly said the changes to lifesaving coverage took place after an analysis of needs in the department.

He added until now, the department has been limited to only one advanced lifesaving vehicle.

Outfitting Engine 1 will expand the emergency medical responses, McNeilly said.

“It’s a short-term solution,” said McNeilly. “We can now initiate lifesaving treatment. It opens up our flexibility. The one downside is we are still unable to transport patients (on Engine 1).”

McNeilly said the long-term goal is to hopefully acquire another ambulance to transport patients.

“This is a quick fix so we can at least start emergency medical care,” he said. “This can start the process.”

The department now has 17 staff members, of which 14 are paramedics, with two currently in paramedic school, McNeilly said.

Regarding the new pediatric training, McNeilly said every two years paramedics are required to complete 60 hours of training, including for advanced life support and pediatric advance life support.

“The pediatric calls in general are among the highest stress-level calls for the families, the patients and for us,” he said. “Having our staff members trained on this and continuing to update the practices will encourage us to be ready and up to the latest scientific recommendations.”

McNeilly described the department’s emergency response effort similar to a “pit-crew approach.”

“Our overall goal is to encourage survivability,” said McNeilly. “As with any of our training, we hope and pray we never have to utilize these skills, but your firefighters are ready if they are needed.”

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