It’s Emergency Medical Services Week, and the North Platte Fire and Rescue Department is celebrating.
Throughout this week, the Fire Department is hosting a Q&A on its Facebook page, facebook.com/NorthPlatteFireDepartment, with each day focusing on a different theme, said Lt. Jim Einspahr. From noon to 6 p.m. on Friday, each of the three stations in the department will host an open house and ice cream social.
From Jan. 1 to May 1, the department ran more than 1,100 rescue calls, Einspahr said. In 2017, the department responded to more than 3,700 fire and rescue calls, Einspahr said.
“It’s a steady increase every year,” he said, adding that in 2008, the department ran just over 2,900 calls. Over the years, the department has covered more area, he said.
Of the 3,700 calls last year, 3,100 required emergency medical services, Einspahr said.
“Only 600 of those were actual fire calls,” he said.
This week honors the emergency medical technicians, he said. All of the firefighters on the department also work in emergency medical services, and vice versa, Einspahr said. On calls, people are often surprised to see the same people who responded to one situation show up to another.
Emergency medical technicians provide basic medical care on calls.
“They do a lot of your first aid,” Einspahr said. He added that they can administer some medications like aspirin and EpiPens.
Paramedics, on the other hand, “can do a lot more stuff in the field,” Einspahr said.
“We can use all of our pain meds, all of our narcotics, cardiac drugs.”
Paramedics are also able to provide intubation and sedatives in the field, he said.
The North Platte Fire Department also offers dual response to surrounding volunteer fire and rescue departments.
Over the years, EMS has evolved in the North Platte Fire Department, said Einspahr, who has worked on the department for 12 years and called EMS “one of the biggest changes” to the department.
Before, routine on most trauma cases was “pick them up, get them in the back of the ambulance, load them to the hospital,” he said.
Today, “we can start treatment for chest pains, strokes,” then take a patient straight to the catheterization lab at the hospital without stopping in the emergency room, he said.
With consistent trainings with other departments, “we stay on the front edge,” Einspahr said.
The system is developing. In the future, Einspahr sees paramedics going to people’s homes to make sure they’re taking their medications and using at-home wound therapy correctly. This way, people will call EMS less, Einspahr said.