Saturday, May 2, 2009

"Highly Unique Story"

For almost two decades Emergency Medicine physicians at OSF, who have been Directors of Peoria's Emergency Medical Services (EMS), have told the public that Peoria's EMS was just fine.

At least one of the physicians is on Advanced Medical Transport's (AMT) payroll, and according to the Peoria Fire Department (PFD), this physican threw up roadblocks during the past 15 years when the PFD tried to advance their level of care for Peorians.

Despite what the OSF physicians would have us believe, an article in the Journal Star today clearly indicates that not all has been fine in Peoria's emergency services.

The PFD finally has an engine and their paramedics are now allowed to give Peorians the emergency care they deserve when 911 is called.

And what the Journal does not report is the conflict of interest that has been hidden from the public.

I wonder how many lives have been needlessly lost in Peoria during the last two decades?

Here is the article:

Specialized Fire Engine Looks to Save Lives

Vehicle to treat more patients made possible by cooperative effort
By RYAN ORI of the Journal Star

Posted May 01, 2009 @ 08:05 PM

Nearly two decades after first seeking an advanced life support engine, the Peoria Fire Department has one on the streets.

Friday morning at Station 12, 3006 NE Adams St., Peoria fire Chief Kent Tomblin, Mayor Jim Ardis, Advanced Medical Transport Executive Director Andrew Rand, Firefighters Local 50 union President Tony Ardis and other officials gathered to discuss details of the cooperative effort that brought the first ALS engine to Peoria.

"This cooperative effort involves a municipal government, a non-profit organization and a fire union," Rand said. "This is a highly unique story. I don't know of any other agreement like this."

Other than East Peoria, where the fire department also operates the city's ambulance service, Peoria is the only city in the area now offering an ALS engine.

The actual vehicle remains the same, but it is now stocked with higher-tech equipment and many more types of medications to treat patients with life-threatening conditions such as heart attacks. Another key difference is that to maintain ALS status, an engine must have at least one firefighter with paramedic-level training on board at all times.

In many cases, that means the first people responding to a scene will now have a higher level of medical training than in years past.

All Peoria firefighters are required to have a minimum of emergency medical technician training. There are nine current firefighters with paramedic training and 10 more in training for that level of certification.

"With an ALS engine, we can now intubate - put a tube down someone's throat to assist with their breathing - as well as administer an IV, shock or pace the heart, and use a lot more medications," said engineer Clint Kuhlman, who has paramedic training. "When we're there before an ambulance, we can start advanced life support more quickly. This will save lives that we previously may not have been able to save."

Kuhlman said Station 12 used its new ALS capabilities in the first week since initiating the engine April 24.

"When we get the kinks out of it, our goal is to add ALS service throughout the city," Tomblin said.

The Fire Department had discussed adding an ALS engine in the early 1990s, but there has been a long-running territorial battle between AMT - which provides ambulance service to Peoria - and the city of Peoria.

In November 2007, AMT and the City Council passed an ordinance providing AMT with franchise protection for 20 years.

Rand said with its place in Peoria secure, AMT was able to join the city in ironing out details of an ALS engine. As part of its requirements as a not-for-profit organization, AMT is providing the Fire Department with $10,000 worth of start-up equipment and medical supplies and will continue to provide those items as more patients are served.

As Peoria adds other ALS engines, Rand said AMT will provide more equipment, supplies and training of firefighters.

"It should always be about patients, but a lot of the time it's about political turf," Rand said. "Mayor Ardis has a greater skill set than more people I've met for getting people into a room to talk and do the right thing."

Tomblin said the timing also was improved by the increasing number of paramedic-certified firefighters in the department.

"We've always from the get-go wanted to do what's best for the patient," Tomblin said. "We have the right people in place to do this now. We have an amazing partnership with all the people involved.

"I've been here 30 years, and there were times our partnership wasn't that amazing."

Ryan Ori can be reached at 686-3264 or
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