Spokane Valley Fire Department has been providing pre-hospital Emergency Medical Services (EMS) for nearly 40 years. In the early years, EMS in Spokane Valley was delivered by Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) in Squads. A few years later, all firefighters became certified EMTs and the Squads were staffed by Paramedics.
Today we no longer have Squads, and Paramedics respond to medical emergencies with eight of our eleven Engine and/or Rescue Companies. On incidents where the closest Engine or Ladder does not have a Paramedic on board, and the patient requires a higher level or care, an ALS (Advanced Life Support/Paramedic) Engine will respond as well. That is why you sometimes get two fire engines at your house for a medical call. In 2016, 86.4% of Spokane Valley Fire Department’s nearly 16,300 calls for service were medically related.
All Firefighters are certified to provide emergency medical services at one of two different levels of medical care:
- EMTs – Basic Life Support (BLS), are trained to perform life-sustaining procedures including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), controlling bleeding, treating shock, stabilizing injuries and wounds, and other first aid skills
- Paramedics – Advanced Life Support (ALS), have a solid foundation in BLS skills, are also trained to perform more advanced life sustaining procedures including airway management, drug administration, stroke and cardiac care, ECG rhythm interpretation, Intravenous (IV) and Intraosseous (IO) access, and other advanced medical skills and procedures
With a focus on continuous improvement, Spokane Valley Fire Department strives to ensure that our Paramedics and EMTs are highly trained, well equipped and that we have our fingers on the pulse of developing trends in emergency medicine.
In 2015 we launched a Rescue Task Force, which is an elite group of EMTs and Paramedics who are equipped and trained to go into active shooter and other criminal mass casualty incidents, providing lifesaving care at the point of wounding.
Pit Crew CPR
Spokane Valley Fire Department achieved a record-setting 66.7 percent cardiac survival rate in 2015, among the highest rates in Washington State. The measure is based on the “Utstein Bystander” measurement, an industry standard with four criteria: 1) the collapse is witnessed, 2) the collapse has a cardiac origin, 3) a bystander intervenes with CPR and/or AED, and 4) the patient is in a shock-able rhythm.
The Department credits “Pit Crew” CPR, an innovative approach to cardiac arrest intervention adopted by SVFD in 2012 with this high survival rate. Over the past six years, the agency has averaged just over 50 percent cardiac survival rate, compared with national survival rates ranging from 7.7 to 39.9 percent, according to the National Academies of Sciences.
Thanks to SVFD’s leadership, “Pit Crew” has become the Spokane County-wide CPR standard for first responders. SVFD leads training with the City of Spokane Fire Department, AMR ambulance crews and neighboring fire department personnel.
Loosely modeled after NASCAR, “Pit Crew” CPR is an approach to a cardiac arrest incident that emphasizes defined roles, responsibilities and the efficient and planned use of personnel on scene to provide the highest ratio of compressions throughout the arrest, in conjunction with other advanced life support procedures.
In “Pit Crew” CPR, every crew member has a role and they know exactly what to do. The approach provides structure to ensure a compression rate of 100 per minute is maintained. This ensures blood continues to reach the brain which gives the victim of a cardiac arrest the best possible chance of surviving. In 2015, our crews achieved a compression ratio of 96 percent, one of the highest in the state.