Iowa fire department becomes EMS certified for first time since 2001
Oskaloosa Fire Department Captain Dan Hoy says the push for certification comes out of a desire to serve the community in as many capacities as possible
By Channing Rucks
The Oskaloosa Herald, Iowa
OSKALOOSA, Iowa — The Oskaloosa Fire Department is expanding its operations to lend an even bigger helping hand to the community when duty calls.
As of Wednesday, Nov. 8 , the Oskaloosa Fire Department is officially Emergency Medical Services certified by the State of Iowa for the first time since 2001. This accomplishment means they will now be able to provide non-transportation medical assistance during emergency medical situations.
Fire Chief Scott Vaughan says the certification has been in the works for at least 10 years, but has never come to fruition until now. Captain Dan Hoy of the Oskaloosa Fire Department says the push for certification comes out of a desire to serve the community in as many capacities as possible.
“The citizens have us as a resource, and for us to provide just a little extra service, you know, a little bit more bang for their buck. So that’s what we’re really trying to do. We’re just, we’re here, we might as well be helping out on that stuff,” Hoy says.
As part of the lead-up to certification, the fire department sent six firefighters to complete an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) course taught by Emergency Management Administrator Jamey Robinson . One of the six has since moved away.
“Several of us had maintained our EMT license throughout the years, but just recently, we sent six of our people through an EMT course, and that’s about a six month long course. So we got them certified,” Hoy says. “From there, we had to acquire equipment and get all our policies, procedures, our protocols approved by the state. So we had to have a licensed medical doctor agree to be our medical director. They’re the ones that kind of make sure that we know what we’re doing and we have the right equipment.”
The department successfully passed their state inspection on Nov. 8 .
Dr. Kymberly Life of Mahaska Health is serving as the department’s medical director. Mahaska Health is also providing equipment for the department. Mike Lang , the emergency services director at Mahaska Health , says that the certification process was a collaboration.
“Fire and I kind of collaborated,” Lang says. “We worked together. They had an interest in becoming EMT-level certified and really wanted to do that so that they can help out and respond on calls. They’re just more interested in being available and that EMS side of things.”
Lang and his teams helped teach skills and perform assessments to prepare the firefighters to take their EMT test.
“They came through with flying colors,” Lang says. “So really ... they did all the hard work, but we’re here to help them, support them and walk them through the steps needed to get that certification, which they did. We’re working closely with them on making sure that they have the supplies that they need and keep them in stock. So when they go out on a call, and they use some of their own equipment, we’ll restock that for them. So as a service, we’ve supplied them with all of the initial supplies, and then we’ll continue to help them restock as needed.”
The fire department will not be called out to every emergency medical call that comes through. Only the calls that require an elevated level of service.
“They’re not to go out on every single call that we’re dispatched to, but you know, when we say ‘Hey, there’s a need.’ Things that we talked about were traumas, trauma code, mass casualty, lift assists ... all hands on-deck, and we need somebody to drive the ambulance for us because we’ve got us in the backseat working on patient care, and they’re there for that too,” Lang says. “And then, if we have trouble getting in somewhere, we need an access-entry assistance, they’ll help us with that too.”
Lang says that having that extra resource in the fire department will be a useful tool for emergency medical situations going forward.
“We have a really, really good relationship with all the other first responders, or entities in the community,” Lang adds. “Law enforcement, typically, are first on scene a lot of times, and they help us out, you know CPR in progress to get things going and initiated there. Fire, we’ve called them occasionally, but really, they can’t work out of their scope of practice. So it is a need that we’ve had, when we need lift assistance, you know, there’s only so much that these other entities can do for us when they’re not medically trained. So having this extra training here on this resource is huge for us.
“They’re there to back us up, and likewise, we’re there to back them up on their scenes,” he adds. “Their fire standbys, that type of thing. So yeah, it’s a great tool to have. And we don’t want to overburden them, but I have a feeling that we’ll definitely be utilizing [them].”
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