About 75 percent of the calls received by the Wyoming Fire Department is for chest pains, difficulty breathing, or similar medical needs but up until now, only some of the department’s firefighters were able to administer an EpiPen, monitor blood glucose, or simply provide aspirin.
By 2017, all of the City of Wyoming’s full-time firefighters will be able to provide a variety of vital treatments because of a Metro Health Hospital Foundation grant covering the cost for the necessary emergency medical technician training along with allowing the Wyoming Fire Department to upgrade its status.
“We have had to look at a person and the symptoms they were having to determine what is happening,” said Brad Dornbos, a firefighter and EMS coordinator for Wyoming. “Being able to poke their finger to test their blood makes it quicker and a much more efficient way to do that.”
The Metro Health Hospital Foundation awarded Wyoming a $10,000 grant providing funding for 27 full-time firefighters to be trained as emergency medical technicians, or EMTS. Dornbos said about two-thirds of the department already are certified EMTs, which requires about 150 hours of training. Without the grant, Dornbos said he is not certain the Department would have been able to offer the trainings.
The grant also allows the for department to upgrade its status from medical first responder (MFR) to EMT. This means that firefighters can provide treatment such as albuterol for those with asthma, king tubes for breathing assistance and operate CPAP devices used for patients with congestive heart failure.
“Operating at the EMT level allows our department to provide better care and better service to our residents,” Dornbos said. “It is just really awesome to be able to partner with a local hospital to provide better care to the community.”
In addition to providing the EMT training for certification, the grant will also fund the purchase of six EMT bags, which will contain medications and equipment, including CPAP devices, albuterol, and king tubes.
“Metro Health is a community hospital,” said Metro Health Hospital Foundation Board Chair Mike Damstra. “In this case, that means helping to equip our firefighters to improve patient outcomes.”
Dornbos said this is the first time the department has received a grant from the Foundation. He learned about the Foundation and its desire to partner with Wyoming at a Kent County EMS meeting. From there, the two groups worked together on needs for the department.
The Foundation has indicated it plans to continue its partnership with the department by providing additional financial support for future years to maintain the EMT program and and instructor development.