Emergency Medical Service
The Cumberland Fire Department operates 4 advanced life support ambulances to provide emergency medical services.
These ambulances are staffed by Paramedics (EMT-P), and these healthcare providers are nationally certified and undergo additional training that lasts approximately 1 year. They are required to attend continuing education programs and are recertified on a biennial basis. Besides the skills learned in the EMT-B classes, they can:
- Administer advanced airway management techniques
- Administer medications
- Chest decompression
- Defibrillate a patient's heart
- Endotracheal intubation
- External pacing of the heart
- Interpret electrocardiograms
- Perform emergency cardioversion
- Start intravenous infusions
A medical emergency is an unforeseen injury or illness requiring immediate care. Emergency incidents are classified according to the level of care required to treat the patient.
Basic Life Support
Basic Life Support is critical care at the basic level and is the first level of care provided that involves prehospital emergency medical care and management of illness or injury including patient assessment, airway and bleeding control, administration of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), splinting, and the administration of oxygen.
Advanced Life Support
Advanced Life Support is advanced critical care requiring more critical interventions and more advanced pre-hospital and basic care of serious illness or injury provided by paramedics.
The Cumberland Fire Department has 5 automatic external defibrillators, 3 MedTronic Physio-Control LIFEPAK 15-Lead EKG machines, and drug boxes for use on first-line fire apparatus that enables these units to deliver immediate care for certain types of critical emergency medical service incidents as advanced life support engine companies.
Each advanced life support ambulance is equipped with a MedTronic Physio-Control LIFEPAK 15-Lead EKG machines. These 15-lead EKG machines enable our paramedics to obtain diagnostic quality EKG while on the scene with the patient, in order to diagnose myocardial ischemia, injury, and infarct. The information provided by the 15-lead EKG, along with the assessment of the patients' signs and symptoms and heart attack risk factors will allow paramedics to properly treat patients. The information gathered by paramedics permit the local hospital emergency department to prepare for a heart attack patient. The efforts of our paramedics will speed up the time it takes for heart attack patients to receive life saving procedures at the Western Maryland Regional Medical Center.
Time Is of the Essence
Time is one of the most important factors relating to patient outcome in emergency situations. In general, irreversible brain damage from an acute heart attack starts within 4 to 6 minutes of when the heart stops pumping and the patient stops breathing. Getting help to the patient within this timeframe is critical and requires structuring the medical emergency care system to respond quickly.
In a study of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, it was found that when victims were not resuscitated before arrival at the hospital, long-term survival was not likely. The only characteristic associated with improved outcome was a resuscitation time of less than 15 minutes according to the study. This reinforces the importance of quick response times and the application of life support, including CPR to ensure oxygen to the brain and early defibrillation to re-establish heart rhythm.
The Cumberland Fire Department emergency medical services program functions as part of the Maryland State emergency medical service program. Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services System (MIEMSS) coordinates the state program. Each of the 5 MIEMSS regions in the state has its own regional administrator and advisory council. Representatives from these regional councils sit on a state advisory council, which is charged with making recommendations to the Director of the State Emergency Medical Service. Allegany County and Garrett County comprise MIEMSS Region I. A separate 11-member Emergency Medical Service Board is appointed by the Governor. This Board has rule-making and regulatory authority.