Paramedics to improve Eagle Mountain service

Articles / Town Hall
Date: May 06, 2004 - 12:00 AM
In Eagle Mountain, where the closest hospital is more than 30 minutes away, better emergency care can mean the difference between life and death. And emergency health care is about to become better.

Eagle Mountain will soon be the fourth city in Utah County to be able to

provide lifesaving medication on their emergency calls. The state's Emergency Medical Services Board, which grants paramedic license variances to cities, decided two weeks ago to allow the city to use paramedic services. There is a 30-day public notice period before the paramedics service can begin at the end of May.

A paramedic license variance allows paramedics to give patients certain drugs and perform certain procedures that medical technicians cannot, said Fire Chief Robert DeKorver. The variance is especially important for Eagle Mountain because emergency personnel have a long travel time to the nearest hospital, DeKorver said.

"Right now we offer aid at an intermediate level of service. Paramedic brings us the opportunity to be more advanced with lifesaving care," he said. "The more care we can give out on the street, the better chance people have of survival."

Already the city has eight licensed paramedics on staff in the city's Fire Department, but those paramedics were not allowed to administer certain drugs or perform procedures until the variance was granted by the state, DeKorver said.

The department is made up of volunteers with paid firefighters on duty during the day. In addition to being firefighters, they are also certified emergency medical technicians or paramedics. Once paramedic service begins, scheduling will be done so at least one paramedic will always be on duty during the day, DeKorver said.

Chris Hillman, city administrator, said the city added paid daytime firefighters after city officials realized that most of the city's volunteers left during the day, Hillman said. Money for the day staff and the city's six new full-time sheriff's deputies came from an increase in property taxes last summer, he said. Since there are already licensed paramedics on staff, it will not cost the city anything to offer the new service, Hillman said.

"This was something internal. City leaders thought it was extremely important," he said. "Public safety is No. 1; this shows our commitment to public safety."

The city hopes to have some part-time firefighters on duty at night by July 2005, Hillman said.

Orem, Provo and Lone Peak Fire District are the other departments in the county that have paramedic license variances.

Mayor Kelvin Bailey said the paramedic license is important not just for the city but for all of Cedar Valley. The Fire Department is growing so fast because the city is growing so fast. Bailey said he hopes it will be a full-time fire department within the next few years, depending on funding.

"I think it is our responsibility to have the best ambulance service and the best medical service in the Cedar Valley," he said. "We are pretty much on our own out here, so we need to provide the best we can."