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Fire District asks community for input on ALS benefits to Captiva

By Staff | Mar 3, 2011

The Captiva Island Fire Control District will host a public meeting on Monday, March 7, to discuss training for Fire District staff in advanced life support/non-transport.

Advanced life support capabilities include on-site cardiac defibrillation and intravenous cannulation (inserting an IV) and would allow properly trained Fire District responders to take medical action immediately instead of waiting for Lee County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to arrive.

“There are some medical calls we receive that do warrant a paramedic’s attention — like diabetic attacks or allergic reaction — and you can’t set up an IV unless you’re a paramedic. Hopefully bringing ALS to the island will be a lifesaver for Captivans and visitors,” said Assistant Chief Rich Dickerson.

Dickerson, a paramedic, is proposing to send three or four of the Fire District’s younger staff to college in Lee County for advanced, paramedic training — which takes about a year and a half and costs approximately $5,000 per person.

To determine the cost to benefit ratio of paramedic training for staff, Dickerson averaged the number of emergency calls the Fire District received in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

According to Dickerson, the Fire District receives approximately 280 calls a year and 70 to 80 percent are medical calls.

The classification of medical calls ranges from minor injuries (ranked as Alpha, Bravo and Charlie depending on severity) to serious medical calls such as cardiac arrest (ranked as Delta and Echo).

In examining the data from Lee County EMS, Dickerson found that in 2008, 2009 and 2010, on average, the Fire District received about 30 Delta and Echo calls per year.

These results, Dickerson said, indicated that ALS/non-transport could be a potential benefit for Captivans, and he presented his findings to the Fire District’s board of commissioners, who responded positively to the concept and gave Dickerson the go-ahead to approach the community with the idea.

“Hopefully, members of the community will approve. It’s not often that we need it, but just enough to require advanced life support. Just last week we had an Echo call, a cardiac arrest, on Captiva,” Dickerson said. “We really want the community’s input. The meeting will last about a half and hour and it will be the same presentation I did for the commissioners.”

Currently, there are only two certified paramedics on staff at the Fire District.

Dickerson’s presentation will take place on Monday, March 7, at 10 a.m. in the Captiva Civic Center, 11560 Chapin Lane.

For more information about the Captiva Island Fire Control District, call 472-9494.