County backs WMFR’s ASL request

After a meeting with the Manatee County Board of Commissioners, a goal of the West Manatee Fire Rescue District is closer to reality.

In a meeting Feb. 7, county commissioners requested that county attorney Mitchell Palmer draft legislation to allow WMFR to offer advanced life support services.

WMFR Commissioner Randy Cooper addressed the county board during public comment, asking for adoption of an ordinance expanding authorization to provide non-transport advanced life support services to the fire district.

Under current county code, “only the governmental emergency medical services of Manatee County and Longboat Key” are “authorized to perform as the first responders within the county.”

Cooper said the request would “allow us to upgrade our firefighter EMTs to firefighter paramedics so we can provide … advanced life support to our residents.”

County administrator Ed Hunzeker spoke in support of WMFR’s request. “We concur that more qualified hands at the scene would be better,” he said.

WMFR Chief Tom Sousa said the county commission could hear the ordinance in March.

“I commend the board for listening to us,” Sousa said, adding that he credited Commissioner Vanessa Baugh in particular for supporting WMFR’s effort.

If the ordinance is adopted, the fire district could offer ALS services in early 2017, Sousa said.

Of the current firefighters on staff, five are trained paramedics and eight are enrolled in paramedical school. If the program begins in 2017, he said, the WMFR would have 13 trained paramedics to offer advanced life support services.

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