USFA Focused on Emergency Medical Services

EMMITSBURG, Md. -- It isn't all about fire at the U.S. Fire Administration.

The agency is very actively involved in EMS in a number of ways – training, research and compiling documents on a variety of topics, explained Bill Troup, fire program specialist in the USFA's National Fire Data Center.

During a recent interview, Troup said the USFA has teamed up with various agencies and organizations to develop guides or documents on a myriad of issues.

One of those is the EMS Medical Directors' Handbook.

Troup said the recently released handbook isn't clinical but covers managerial material. "We are very grateful for the support of OHA (Office of Health Affairs). Without them, this wouldn't have happened."

The IAFC's EMS section personnel played a vital role in the development of the document.

Those who participated in the project addressing issues EMS directors may face included physicians, paramedics, and an attorney.

Troup added that in these economically strapped times, another USFA-authored document should be of great assistance to EMS providers from small and large departments.

Funding Alternatives for EMS and Fire Departments lists not only federal grants available, but state funding opportunities as well.

Troup explained that the guide gives responders tips on writing a grant request as well as a discussion on applying for the appropriate funding.

The USFA partnered with OHA and the International Fire Service Training Association to develop the comprehensive list of sources available.

Now in the final editing stage is the Model Policies and Protocols for EMS Mass Care Incident Deployment.

Troup said officials took a comprehensive look at various scenarios and how EMS providers should plan for large-scale incidents. "How does EMS in a rural community of 100 plan for a music fest that draws 100,000?" the former paramedic said, adding that very scenario takes place annually in nearby Pennsylvania. Knowing what resources, both personnel and equipment, are available is essential, and should be part of preparedness plans.

All the documents are available for download. Free books also are available from the USFA.

"These books belong in your EMS stations and fire houses, not in our warehouse," Troup said.

Troup said the USFA also offers a number of EMS courses, and the schedule of those can be found online.

USFA Administrator Ernest Mitchell said: "The USFA recognizes the critical importance of EMS provided by fire departments and other agencies and is dedicated to meeting your needs…"

Earlier this week, Rich Serino, FEMA deputy director, lauded EMS personnel for their contributions.

"In a time of crisis, it is the EMS professionals who are the first on the scene," said Serino. "They are the first to offer care and comfort, and they are the first to offer that immediate assistance when we are most vulnerable and hurting."

Serino, former chief of Boston EMS, has been involved in the field for more than 35 years.

"Over the years, I have watched how technology and new innovations have changed the EMS profession. While the tools that we use have changed over the years, one thing hasn't: the selfless commitment and dedication that EMS professionals bring to their jobs each and every day," Serino told providers in California this week.