This is National Emergency Medical Services Week (May 15-21), and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue is honored to serve within a system of first responders who are ready to provide lifesaving medical care to those in need 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
TVF&R’s highly trained firefighter paramedics and emergency medical technicians are committed to providing fast and effective care to improve survival and recovery rates of patients.
In 2015, TVF&R crews responded to 32,067 dispatched medical calls. In order to ensure patients receive advanced life support services in the field, at least one paramedic is assigned to every apparatus.
“People may not always think of our firefighters as healthcare providers, but they are,” says EMS Division Chief Mark Stevens. “Our crews bridge gaps in the healthcare system.”
Crews respond to 911 calls for patients who experience a variety of medical emergencies from falls to chest pain to strokes, heart attacks, sudden cardiac arrest and trauma injuries in a motor vehicle collision. TVF&R firefighter paramedics also provide preventative medicine and follow-up care to help people in the community avoid unnecessary and costly readmissions to hospitals and emergency rooms.
“Our mobile integrated health or community paramedicine program is designed to help high-risk patients work with their physicians and other care providers to manage their health needs,” Stevens says.
This approach to outpatient care helps decrease the number of times a patient with multiple chronic illnesses calls 911 to access medical attention, which frees up the 911 system to respond to emergency calls.
“Ultimately, patients receive better care and experience better health while avoiding expensive emergency room and hospital admission costs,” says Stevens. “Decreasing 911 usage is an added benefit at a time when our call volume is going up rapidly with the aging of Baby Boomers in our community.”
To address increases in emergency service demands, TVF&R strategically sites stations and deploys additional resources such as a car staffed by one firefighter paramedic or a two-person medic unit to get a paramedic to the scene quickly and begin critical care. Medic units also provide ambulance transports in Clackamas County and backup transports in Washington County.
To enhance the level of care patients receive when they call 911, firefighters complete thousands of hours of specialized training and continuing education to hone their skills. TVF&R also collects data and participates in studies to evaluate protocols, procedures used and medications given.
“We’re very involved in research to improve outcomes for patients by tracking data about the care we provide,” Stevens says. “We are tracking everything to see where we can make a difference.”