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Saskatoon Fire Department primary care improves residents' quality of life for nearly 30 years

For immediate release: November 14, 2019 - 10:28am
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More than a firefighting service, the Saskatoon Fire Department (SFD) has been improving residents’ quality of life through emergency medical care for nearly 30 years.

SFD first introduced Emergency Medical Technicians in 1990, and now has over 140 Firefighter-Primary Care Paramedics providing emergency medical care throughout the city.

“We’re proud of our role as part of a primary care team of first responders, increasing the quality of life for residents and providing a level of service residents have come to expect,” says Len Protz, Battalion Chief. “With nine strategically located stations, we’re able to respond quickly when someone in our community requires urgent care.”

SFD received just over 14,000 calls to date this year, roughly 40 per cent requiring emergency medical care. In certain circumstances, the firefighter-paramedics are able to perform lifesaving interventions, which includes the administration of medications.

Yearly statistical comparisons:

Year

Volume of Calls

Emergency Medical Service Calls

2019 YTD

14,046

5,821

2018

14,308

6,199

2017

14,087

5,884

“SFD provides emergency response and protection for nearly 42 billion dollars’ worth of physical assets, but what that doesn’t include is our people,” says Protz. “We’re continuously looking at ways we can improve the services we provide to citizens, keeping their safety and wellness at the forefront.”

Treatment and medications administered by firefighter-paramedics have expanded over the past thirty years. Notably, the introduction of the automated external defibrillator (AED) in the mid-90s and Naloxone, an important drug used to combat the opioid overdose crisis, in January 2017.

Other medications administered by firefighter-paramedics include: Dextrose for hypoglycemic diabetic emergencies, Epinephrine (Adrenaline) for severe allergic reactions, and Atrovent and Salbutamol (bronchodilators) used for persons in severe respiratory distress.

Most recently, in conjunction with the Saskatchewan College of Paramedics protocols, the SFD added Penthrox, a non-opioid gaseous analgesic used for pain relief, to be able to treat persons experiencing moderate to severe pain associated with trauma.

Building and upgrading skills has also been a focus over the years. On January 1, 2018, SFD made the transition from Emergency Medical Technicians to Primary Care Paramedics (2011 National Occupancy Competency Profile) with nearly half of SFD’s operational staff registered with the Saskatchewan College of Paramedics.  In addition, more than 50 staff who were previously Primary Care Paramedics or Emergency Medical Technicians are now Registered Medical First Responders, a further upgrade of skills and lifesaving abilities available within the Department.

Through continued working relationships with the International Association of Firefighters Local 80, Saskatchewan Health Authority, Medavie Health Services West and the Saskatoon Police Service, SFD works toward the common goal of community service in saving lives and serving the citizens of our community.

The Saskatoon Fire Department’s emergency medical services further the City’s Strategic Goal of Quality of Life for Citizens in prioritizing the safety of the entire community.