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Celebrate Central’s Emergency Medical Services

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By Mia Freneaux

What keeps a medical emergency from becoming a tragedy?  In many cases, it is the care the patient receives in the first 5 minutes of the emergency.  It takes less than 4 minutes of oxygen deprivation for the human brain to receive permanent damage.  In cases like this, Central is fortunate that we can call on our Fire Department to have highly trained professional emergency caregivers respond.  Every Central Firefighter is fully trained to at least the EMT Basic level.  What does this mean?  In addition to their firefighting courses, they have completed 140 hours of medical emergency training.  These courses cover Airway and Breathing, Cardiology, Trauma, Medical, Obstetrics, Pediatrics, and Emergency Medical Services Operations.  EMT Basics cover topics such as management of trauma and cardiac patients, bag-valve-mask ventilation of apneic (non-breathing) patients, spinal immobilization, fractured and dislocated bone immobilization, bleeding control, shock management, and mouth to mouth ventilation.  To remain certified, EMTs must complete a 24 hour refresher class and 48 hours of continuing education on purely medical topics every 2 years.  This is the type of help that Central residents have at the touch of a telephone.  Every fire engine that responds to a medical emergency is fully equipped with first aid supplies that include instruments to obtain baseline vitals such as blood pressure, airway adjuncts and oxygen, splints and spinal immobilization equipment, and an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), used to establish a normal heartbeat in some cardiac cases. 

The goal of first responders in Central’s Fire Department is to stabilize the patient until EMS can arrive to provide advanced care.  East Baton Rouge Parish has 12 ambulances to cover the entire parish.  When one ambulance is called out on an emergency, the other ambulances are shifted to cover more territory until the ambulance is clear for duty once more.  For this reason, the ambulance housed at the Central Fire Department may not be able to respond quickest to a medical emergency.  This is why every firefighter is so highly trained, to stand in the gap and provide life saving care until paramedics can be dispatched to the scene.  The Central Fire Department has been called out on 599 medical incidents as of May 31st in Central alone.  CFD has also responded to 39 automobile wrecks with injury, again in Central alone.  This is a huge responsibility that they willingly shoulder.  How can Central’s citizens help?  Captain Sam “Trip’ Haynes encourages all Central citizens to become CPR certified and to familiarize themselves with the “Chain of Survival” on the American Heart Association’s webpage.  Seconds count in a medical emergency.  Being prepared to meet the challenge can make the critical difference.  For more information, go to americanheart.org

Another way to help all emergency responders is to be aware while on the road.  With today’s technology, cars are more sound proof than ever, so sirens may not be heard.  Be alert for emergency vehicles and be sure to yield quickly.  Lives are on the line.

Thanks to Capt. Sam “Trip” Haynes III, NREMT-P for his assistance with this article.

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