Local EMS seek program upgrades

Shippensburg Area Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is sponsoring training for its Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) to reach a new level of advanced care for the region.

“This is a whole new tier of life support,” said public relations officer for Shippensburg EMS, Heather Franzoni.

Shippensburg EMS is seeking to raise nine EMTs to Advanced EMT certification, the second highest level under paramedics. Basic EMT certification is more common and is the national standard of care.

Classes are being taken through Blue Ridge Community and Technical College in Martinsburg, West Virginia. Graduation and final certification testing is expected in August.

“The Advanced Life Support (ALS) unit was already large to begin with and has kept up with demand,” Franzoni said. But with the rapid population increase from local development, the area is getting busier.

Franzoni said the new certification will free up paramedics by allowing EMTs to take over calls that require an intermediate level of care. Seventy-five percent of ALS calls can be answered by Advanced EMTs.

Basic EMTs are only allowed to perform non-invasive care like immobilization. Advanced certification allows EMTs to diagnose in the field, give IVs and some medications, insert tubes to open airways and other moderately invasive needs. Shippensburg EMS currently has two paramedics to cover nine municipalities across 52 square miles.

Shippensburg EMS services began in 2014 after the West Shore EMS cut three of the four ALS units covering the region.

“After West Shore cut services to the area, Shippensburg EMS went to the townships to ask to form our own [and they agreed],” Franzoni said. 

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