Equipment that was funded through a Homeland Security Grant has enabled the Van Buren Volunteer Fire Department to move to Basic Life Support Non-Transport provider status.
"Our runs have quadrupled since we've been BLS and running with Trans-Care," said VBVFD Capt. Todd McVey, who is also the Director of the EMS Program. "We've been BLS certified since Feb. 16."
Medical runs have more than quadrupled, he added. The total number of runs for 2004 was 143, and as of April 22, the 20 volunteer firefighters have responded to 66 calls in 2005. The department has a two-minute response time, often arriving before ambulances and directing them in to the scene.
While a number of firefighters have been at the First Responder level for some time, others are training to become First Responders. Certification comes through the State Emergency Medical Service, and the equipment for the certification was provided through the grant received through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
"At first, some of them were apprehensive. Half of us were already first responders," he said. "We're having a lot of positive feedback from the citizens of the township."
The firefighters also have a defibrillator they are trained to use that was provided by the Clay County Commissioners. They were purchased using the hospital funds, which paid for defibrillators for each department as they reach BLS status. The defibrillators have been used in several incidents.
"During your golden hour, that's really helping the people get through that easier," McVey said. "We'd like to thank the Commissioners, the Emergency Management Director and the Hospital Fund for allowing us to get the money and equipment we needed to do this."
Each of the five Van Buren trucks are equipped with trauma kits, allowing First Responders access to medical equipment no matter which vehicle responds to the scene. Firefighters will also be using extrication equipment for auto accidents with entrapment.
"The acquisition of paramedics on our ambulance service has really benefited our community. We didn't really care who the ambulance was as long as there was paramedic service," he said.
While extensive paperwork and footwork are involved with acquiring the certification, the opportunity is available to fire departments in all Clay County townships, he added.
"It's really having a positive effect on our jurisdiction. If you save one life with all the training you put into it, then it's all worth it," McVey said. "I think it's just good to see us changing with the times."