Bradley County Fire-Rescue’s new First Responder program was well received by county commissioners Monday as they heard a report about its first month since implementation.
Chief Troy Maney gave his first of what is planned to be regularly scheduled reports to the Commission.
He was joined in the presentation by county EMS Director Danny Lawson.
“We have worked on this to improve the fire service and improve emergency services for Bradley County,” Maney said.
He said in developing the protocols for how to respond to calls “we came up with things we thought would make a difference in someone’s life.”
Maney said when the program began in February there was concerns from citizens about what the long-term plan might be for first responders.
“We are running an engine company on the first 10 things (of the protocol) that we felt ... would make a difference,” Maney said.
The department is currently running three battalions, with responders working shifts of 24 hours on duty and 48 hours off.
Responders are only running out of the five stations with paid officers and not out of the volunteer stations, in order to maintain consistency of service.
He described the initial paperwork that is done when a call is answered.
“We have a quick analysis of what is going on so when a paramedic rolls in, we can hand off mouth-to-mouth information on what we’ve done,” Maney said. “(The paramedics) also have a copy they can attach to their report.”
Maney said there is an ongoing survey to determine the types and frequencies of calls in each district.
“We started this on Feb. 3, and since then we have run 62 calls,” he said.
“One thing we can do is sit back over the next three months and survey what districts are running the most calls,” Maney said. “We are also running a study to see if there is a certain time frame that is busier than others. That will help not only us but also the EMS for planning.”
Lawson said the program is very similar to what has been done in cooperation with the city of Cleveland for the past six years.
“This will enable us to go outside of the city limits to respond to a major medical event where there is a life-threatening or limb-threatening situation,” Lawson said. “We can respond to anything where time benefits the patients.”
He said the EMS has agreed to help with in-service training since the county first responders will operate mostly under the EMS rules.
“They have at least one first responder trained on each engine, but they also have EMTs and paramedics we’ll be able to train and check off to be able to operate up to their level of training,” Lawson said.
He said the responders will be working under a cooperative team doctors who work with the EMS department.
“In some areas, it will be a time saver that will make a difference in patient outcomes,” Lawson said. “So far, it’s worked very well.”
He said in working with the city, there have been patients who would not have survived had it not been for first responders.
“It was said one life saved is worth every cost invested, because once it’s lost it can’t be replaced at any price,” Lawson said. “It’s hard to beat that. It can be someone we know. I think it’s a good investment if we do it carefully and deliberately.”
Commissioner Ed Elkins, who also serves on the county fire board, said the program was “a no-brainer.”
“My eyes have been opened up [to find out] we have so many first responders within the fire department,” Elkins said. “It was a no-brainer that we utilize the training that these folks have. It makes our department a lot more effective and efficient in the use of manpower.”
He said the county is “truly blessed” to have quality people employed who can do that kind of work.
“It will make a difference,” Elkins said.