There’s a common misconception that when an ambulance zooms along the road paramedics are in tow ready to save a life.
Paramedics are the highest trained life-saving emergency personnel, but in many cases the responders are EMT technicians — not paramedics. In both cases, the level of care is high, but those who are trained as paramedics can administer certain medications and provide care at the highest certifiable level.
Since 2006, through a partnership with Lake County Fire Department, Sussex residents could rely on a paramedic arriving on the scene when that level of care is needed. As of Tuesday, the Sussex Fire Department can now provide paramedic service to residents 24 hours a day on its own.
“It’s extremely important,” said Sussex Fire Chief Corky Curtis. “I’ve been involved in EMS for quite a few years. By having a service like this here, you are reducing the hospital stay for patients in emergency situation. If you can offer the rehabilitation immediately, the outcomes are better.”
Of the 50 members on the fire department, 20 are trained as paramedics. All 20 members footed the roughly $6,000 training bill to reach their paramedic certification on there own at no cost to the department. The cost to implement the program in Sussex was also minimal since much of the equipment was already accumulated through its partnership with Lake Country.
Additionally, ambulance fees will not rise as a result of the new program. Since 2006, residents were already paying a paramedic fee for all emergencies where the service was needed.
The fire department received all the necessary approvals from the state and Village Board to implement the program. As of midnight Tuesday, Sussex was offering paramedic services.
The paramedic program pays dividends for the department in terms of recruiting and retaining members. Most young firefighters who want to make fire fighting their full-time job need to be trained as paramedics. By offering the service in Sussex, those ambitious firefighters can practice their valuable life-saving skills.
“I think it helps us because we are using the skills that so many young people are being trained in,” Curtis said. “If they want to become a full-time firefighter, they will need ‘paramedic’ behind their name.”
Curtis said Sussex paramedics would assist other municipalities whenever they are called in for mutual assistance. For instance, Menomonee Falls, though roughly three times the size of Sussex, doesn’t have a certified paramedic program in the village. Sussex paramedics could assist when called in by its neighbor if the situation warrants it.