WMFR aims for Feb. 1 for ALS startup

West Manatee Fire Rescue may soon be able to fulfill a need for medical response on Anna Maria Island.

The district announced it will have a vehicle on the island with advanced life-support equipment and a staff of paramedics by Feb. 1.

The fire district received its state license to offer ALS, Chief Tom Sousa said, and an inspection will be scheduled in the next one to two months.

Sousa said three paramedics are in final training for approval from Manatee County Emergency Medical Services and should be cleared by Jan. 29 to operate as paramedics.

Three other firefighters are preparing to go through the training, and three are scheduled to complete medic school by the end of February.

More are scheduled to take classes in the coming months. Sousa said WMFR should have enough trained paramedics to staff three vehicles by January 2019.

The first ALS-equipped vehicle will be launched at Station 3, 6001 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach. A second vehicle is planned for Station 1 in Bradenton in June.

Sousa said WMFR is equipping existing fire engines with ALS equipment for the program.

WMFR currently has enough equipment to operate ALS on one truck.

The district will purchase another defibrillator monitor, which run $32,000 each, Sousa said, in order to equip the second engine.

At one point over the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, Manatee County EMS was so busy it had no ambulances available, Sousa said, and Manatee Memorial Hospital was on diversion.

Sousa said the city brought in other units to alleviate the pressure. The demand illustrates a need for increased ALS services, Sousa said.