‘Hasn’t been done before’: EMS services expand in North Idaho

POST FALLS, Idaho — With the start of a new year comes new medical resources to improve safety and public health. The EMS and Fire Department in Kootenai County teamed up to expand care they’re able to provide.

North Idaho is in a population boom, and more people means more calls for help. There were 940 more emergency calls in 2021 compared to 2020. In addition to population growth, Covid’s put pressure on their resources, and much of the demographic is aging. Unprecented circumstances caused the first responders to think outside the box.

“In all reality, it is a very exciting day,” said Pete Holley, the Division Chief for EMS in Kootenai County. “We’re doing something that hasn’t ever been done in Kootenai County before.”

To improve public safety and allow first responders to keep up with the high call volume, they created the Ground Critical Care Transport Program. This highly trained team of paramedics will be able to:

  1. Respond to trauma situations.
  2. Respond to 911 calls for help.
  3. Transport patients to different specialized care facilities.

Being able to transport patients in an efficient manner to different facilities will help people’s overall outcomes. It’s something they were struggling to do before coming up with the innovative approach.

“We have more critical care patients who are on ventilators, more critical patients who are on IV pumps, and we just weren’t able to move them effectively throughout the healthcare system.”

The new program didn’t cost tax payers anything because Fire Chief Chris Way says they were able to reallocate resources. They took paramedic captains and gave them an additional 120 hours of intense medical training. Five paramedics can now hook people up to ventilators, check for internal bleeding and treat people who need IV drips from whatever scene they’re at. This decreases the time it takes someone to start receiving care.

“This allows us to provide more advanced skills in the 911 setting,” said Kevin Lawler. He is one of the new captains for the specialized team.

Nine more paramedics are in training right now to join the team.

Source: KXLY.com