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City fire department steps up medical response

The Hendersonville Fire Department has achieved certification to begin providing enhanced medical response services to the public, Fire Chief Dorian Flowers said.

In light of the fact that about 70 percent of the department's calls for service are medical-related, the higher level of medical response represents a significant benefit to the citizens of Hendersonville.
Currently the department provides medical care at the "NC-Medical Responder" level. The North Carolina Office of Emergency Medical Services has approved an upgrade to "NC Emergency Medical Technician – Basic" level. The increase in service will allow firefighters to provide additional critical interventions in certain life-threatening emergencies. Three examples of improvements to the level of service will be the ability to use blind insertion airway devices (BIADs), the administration of epinephrine and increased access to early defibrillation. Each of these examples is described below:
BIADs – A device called a King Airway will be carried on all staffed fire apparatus and staff vehicles. These airway devices will allow our personnel to protect a patient's airway during life threatening emergencies such as cardiac arrests. This intervention is vital in providing the patient a better overall chance for survival.
Epinephrine – Auto-injectors with pre-measured doses of epinephrine will be carried on all staffed fire apparatus and staff vehicles. This drug is a front line drug used to treat life threatening allergic reactions, also known as anaphylaxis. Common causes of these types of allergic reactions are bee stings and food allergies.
Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) - The Fire Department has increased its capacity to deliver lifesaving defibrillation to cardiac arrest patients using AEDs. Early defibrillation is a critical step in the process of providing a patient in cardiac arrest with the best possible chance for survival.
The decision to offer the higher level of medical response is based on factual response data collected by the Fire Department and an evaluation of the demographics of the community. The department respond to more than 1,800 total incidents per year. Of this amount, 1,260 are medical incidents.
About 30 percent of the city's population is age 65 or older, census figures show, more than double the percentage for the entire United States (13 percent) and North Carolina (12.9 percent.) Trends dictate that as our aging population increases, the number of medical responses will also increase.