Fame EMS ready for action at a moment’s notice

LEWISTOWN – Providing basic and advanced life support to Mifflin County residents, Fame EMS is able to respond to both emergency and non-emergency calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Fame provides services to more than 26,000 residents in the townships of Derry, Granville and Decatur, along with the boroughs of Lewistown, Juniata Terrace and Burnham. Shift Captain Troy Long said there are more than 90 people helping to staff the station.

“This staffing team is comprised of both career and volunteer members,” Long said. “At a minimum there are three emergency medical technicians and three paramedics on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, along with normal weekday staff.”

Long also said Fame is governed by a seven-member board of directors that is comprised of leaders of the municipalities that are in the service area. Company Chief Pat Shoop serves under the board and is the paid chief, with Assistant Chief Nicholas Price being a volunteer. The other 90 members of the staff are made up of both paid career EMTS and volunteer members. The organization operates four advanced life support ambulances, one basic life support ambulance, two non-emergency transport vans, and one special operations rehab unit.

“The non-emergency transport vans are equipped to transport a patient in a wheel chair,” Long said. “These can be used to take a patient from their home to a doctor’s appointment and back again.”

All of the non-emergency transports, whether a van or ambulance is needed, are scheduled by the company secretaries and updated on a system that helps to keep track of the calls that have been serviced or ones that are coming up. The software for this system was developed by one of the company volunteers.

“This system works really well,” Long said. “The non-emergency calls for the current day are white, once it is being taken care of it (the assignment block) turns green. The calls for the next day are gray, and the darker the gray, the further out the assignment.”

Long also said if the time comes for the assignment but it is not being handled, the assignment block color turns red and the shift supervisor gets a notification. At that point the supervisor is able to assign someone to the transport. Long said one of the things that makes the system successful is how it is automatically updated.

“When our secretaries put a new transport into the system, all supervisors can receive an alert on their smartphone,” he explained. “This allows the shift supervisor for the next day shift to be aware of how many transport calls there are.”

The company has a separate system to keep track of the emergency calls that the units respond to. Long said the system is called emsCharts, which is a regional system.

“This system provides a data collection, which helps when units are responding to emergency calls,” he explained. “It also helps because the information is stored for later, when the medic or driver is filling out the paperwork after the call.”

When responding to an emergency call in the area, a team consisting of at least a driver and an EMT responds in one of the life support ambulances; which one will depend on the severity of the call. Basic life support is a level of medical care that is used for patients with life-threatening illnesses or injuries that can be given full medical care at a hospital. A call for advanced life support is a call for a life-saving protocol or skill that can support circulation, and to provide an open airway and adequate ventilation.

When the team arrives at the scene, the paramedic works in the back of the ambulance with the patient. If the patient is conscious or alert, the paramedic asks them what the problem is. If the patient is not conscious or alert, the paramedic will try to ask a family member. In the event that one is not available, the paramedic will try to discern the problem themselves. Sometimes the problem will be different from what was dispatched, which is why the paramedic asks questions to determine what the actual problem is.

Once at the hospital, the paramedic advises the emergency room nurse or doctor on what the call was dispatched for versus what the patient was treated for in the ambulance. While waiting for the paramedic to finish, the driver works to clean the back of the ambulance of any trash resulting from medical supplies used during the call, get a new stretcher, put sheets and blankets on the stretcher, and retrieve any equipment left from a previous call. Long said retrieving any equipment left behind helps to keep the units and supply room properly stocked.

“Equipment left from a previous call could be a backboard from a car accident or fall, or something as small as a neck brace,” Long said. “Anything with a 12 or Fame on it comes back with that unit.”

While at the hospital, the goal is to be in and out as quickly as possible to be ready for the next call. Fame responded to 792 calls last month, bringing it’s total number of calls up to 3,198 for the four-month period of January through April.

The calls include everything from transports and accidents to assisting at the scene of a fire.

Fame has a piece of equipment that is used to aid local fire departments with medical monitoring and rehabilitation services for firefighters. Rehab 12-1 was the first of its kind in the county, and Long said the truck was not always the best.

“Until our current rehab truck was put into service, the truck was simply one used to get the job done,” he explained. “When Fame first got into rehab, we had to do a lot of trial and error. It was a learn-by-doing process.”

Fame’s rehab unit and practices are now nationally recognized. When at the scene of a fire, those working with the truck can use a variety of tents and fans to help keep those being monitored safe and away from the action.

“If we are not positioned right, as in far enough away or down wind of the smoke, then those in rehab will hear everything that is going on with their specific company,” Long said. “Our goal in rehab is to help get their heart rates down and to re-hydrate them. If these tasks are not completed correctly it could have negative effects on the firefighter if they were to go back into the action.”

Rehab 12-1 is also used to help at the state fire academy located in Lewistown. The company can be used at the academy during training days when either local or non-local fire companies are there using the facilities.

Fame also offers training for both emergency responders and the local community. The company offers continuing education for paramedics, EMTs, first responders and firefighters. For the community needs they offer classes in basic life support, like cardiopulmonary resuscitation, in accordance with programs with the American Heart Association. The training can be geared toward the needs of the individual group. For example, a business may not need all of the same training classes as a training program for camp counselors. Long said the training facility in the station is state-of-the-art and can be used both to train emergency responders and for the needs of the community.

All of these services combined help to keep the 90 members of Fame busy on a daily basis. All career EMTs and volunteers take pride in what they do to help keep the community safe and healthy. Every day Fame operates under the motto of “Pain is temporary, pride is forever.”

Everything that Fame EMS does for the community is in line with the values celebrated during National EMS week. This year the event started on May 18 and ends today. This year’s theme was “EMS: Dedicated for Life.” The volunteers and employees of Fame EMS show their dedication for life while celebrating the company motto.