Fire district seeks higher medical certification from state

FD5

With several members of the local fire department committing to emergency medical training at a higher level, chief Christopher Carleton has begun discussions with the state to have the department officially licensed as an intermediate life support provider.

“My goal is to have as many of our emergency medical technicians (EMT) trained to an advanced level,” Carleton said at the September 14 meeting of fire district commissioners. “We’ve been providing intermediate life support (ILS) when available and now I believe we can provide it 24/7.”

Former fire chief Bill Skinner was the first Point Roberts EMT trained to an advanced level (AEMT) in 1995, and the department has been providing that level of care under the supervision of Whatcom County Medical Program Director Dr. Marvin Wayne. AEMTs can administer cardiac medications, manage airways and perform other services that a basic EMT is not trained to do.

The 46-member fire department currently has 14 EMTs, five of them advanced, with two more in the process of certifying at the advanced level. Three paramedics, who can provide advanced life support (ALS), including Carleton also rotate through the community. “We’ve only run six days a month on average without having ALS coverage immediately available,” he said.

Having a state license for ILS doesn’t necessarily provide a benefit to the department, which now provides that level of service under Dr. Wayne. “It just identifies this department as providing that level of care,” Carleton said. “Our ambulances are already paramedic level equipped. The state requires that once you can provide the service 24/7 you need to move towards licensure.”

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