ALS implementation delayed on the island

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Richard Losek, WMFR battalion chief, demonstrates the rescue truck defibrillator outside the district’s administrative office, 6417 Third Ave. W., Bradenton. Islander Photo: Bianca Benedí

West Manatee Fire Rescue announced Jan. 23 that it could implement advanced life support care by Feb. 1 from Station 3 on Anna Maria Island, but that date has been pushed back to Feb. 20.

Two snags delayed WMFR’s implementation, Chief Tom Sousa said.

The district is finalizing “some minute details” with the county regarding how units will be dispatched, Sousa said.

WMFR administrators have a meeting scheduled with county representatives Feb. 15 to go over the technical arrangements of implementation, Sousa said.

The district also hit a snag when it learned multiple medications required to provide ALS were out of stock.

Medications such as epinephrine, a drug used to treat cardiac arrest, were unavailable until recently, Sousa said. The drug orders started coming in to WMFR Feb. 7.

Three firefighters — Andrew Powers, Alex Flores and Frank Agresta — have received clearance from the county medical director to operate as paramedics for WMFR and five more are in training, Sousa said.

In addition, the rescue truck that WMFR will use to offer ALS services on the island is equipped with a defibrillator and other equipment used for ALS care, Sousa said.

By putting the ALS equipment on a rescue truck instead of a fire engine, the district can minimize sending out the fire engine for medical calls, Sousa said.

The rescue truck is temporary, Battalion Chief Richard Losek said. Over the next three to five years, the district will equip fire engines with ALS equipment in its three other stations.

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