Wednesday, March 23, 2011

All North Charleston Fire Department personnel to receive EMT-B training

The North Charleston Fire Department has been awarded an Assistance to Firefighters Grant from the U.S. Fire Administration to train all personnel to the level of Emergency Medical Technician-Basic (EMT-B).

North Charleston Fire Department

The total grant allocation is $160,000.  Last Thursday, March 17, 2011, the North Charleston Finance Committee approved $32,000 in matching funds to be combined with $128,000 from federal funding sources.  The matching funds require a final reading at City Council on Thursday, March 24, 2011 for full approval.

Currently, the North Charleston Fire Department has 229 personnel of which most are certified to provide emergency medical response at the First Responder level, a 56 hour program that meets U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Guidelines.

The Assistance to Firefighters Grant will increase the level of medical training for all personnel to EMT-B, which requires 144 hours of training.  EMT-Bs provide basic life support, typically procedures including CPR, automated external defibrillation, mechanical ventilation, placement of air way adjuncts, splinting, and suctioning.  In addition, EMT-Bs are trained to assist patients with administration of preprescribed nitroglycerin, metered-dose inhaler, and epinephrine auto injectors.

The primary goal of the Assistance to Firefighters Grants is to meet the firefighting and emergency response needs of fire departments and nonaffiliated emergency medical service organizations. Since 2001, Assistance to Firefighters Grant has helped firefighters and other first responders to obtain critically needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training, and other resources needed to protect the public and emergency personnel from fire and related hazards.

“This grant will allow us to significantly improve our capability in providing initial medical response in coordination with Charleston County EMS,” stated North Charleston Fire Chief Greg Bulanow.

“Having a certified EMT-basic on scene with EMS has proven nationally to be of a great benefit and is very important to the overall care of the patient. We are looking forward to working with North Charleston with this project,” stated Charleston County EMS Director Don Lundy.

Why EMT-B training is important to North Charleston
  • NCFD medical responses have increased by more than 300% since 2004 and now make up more than two thirds of total call volume.
  • The NCFD responds to only the most serious medical incidents by using dispatching protocols that identify the severity of the need.  In 2010, the NCFD responded to approximately 5,400 of the approximately 16,000 total medical calls in North Charleston.  This ensures that the fire crews are still available to respond to fires while providing the fastest care to those with immediate life-threatening medical needs.  
  • Some of the factors that contribute to the increased call volume include: 
    • The City is thriving and continuing to grow both in size and density.   
    • The American population is aging as the baby boomers reach retirement age.   Seniors tend to move to urban areas and generally place more of a demand on emergency medical services.  
    • The economic downturn in the US economy has caused many more people to be uninsured or underinsured.  They may wait until an emergency occurs before they confront a medical situation.


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