The citizens of Gulfport have one of the most aggressive Emergency Medical Systems in the state. Every fire apparatus in the City of Gulfport are staffed with either Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) and or a Paramedic. With the advent of Mobile Emergency Medicine programs, the Gulfport Fire Department, in the late 1970’s, began training Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics. The Gulfport Fire Department was the first fire department on the cost to provide Advanced Life Support to its citizens.
The roots of using fire trucks for first response can probably be traced back to the 1970s TV series “Emergency.” The delivery model in the series typically would show paramedic/firefighters assigned to a rescue unit delivering ALS care, supported by a fire truck. Besides bringing what was typically emergency room care to the side of the patient, viewers saw a fire truck used in a non-fire role. This approach was adopted by many communities including the City of Gulfport virtually overnight. This ever-important program continues today and makes a big difference in the city’s healthcare system.
The Gulfport Fire Department has 20 paramedics of staff offering rapid advice life support to our citizens. When someone calls 911 for a medical emergency, a private ambulance is dispatched along with a fire truck. Most of the time the fire truck will arrive before the ambulance due to the geographical location of our fire stations. Our stations are located for a 4 minute response time while the ambulances are constantly on the move. Even if the ambulance arrives at the same time, they will only be staffed with two personnel. Most critical patients require at least four people to treat them adequately. One to manage the airway, one to manage the IV and medications, one to provide chest compressions, and one to manage the overall care. This doesn’t include the personnel to carry all of the equipment that is required.
EMT’s are trained to provide basic-level life support to persons who are hurt or injured. EMT’s can perform CPR, artificial ventilations, oxygen administration, basic airway management, spinal immobilization, vital signs and bandaging/splinting.
Paramedics are the highest skilled pre-hospital provider. Paramedics are licensed healthcare professionals who provide the most extensive pre-hospital advanced life support. Paramedics provide care that is on par with that of the emergency room. During a medical emergency Paramedics can provide advanced life support care including: advanced airway management, endotracheal intubation (breathing tube), manual defibrillation, external transcutaneous pacing, EKG monitoring, 12-lead EKG acquisition, IV fluid therapy, intraosseous infusions, hemodynamic monitoring, needle chest decompressions, surgical airways, administration of a wide array of critical care medications and mechanical ventilation.