FLETCHER, OK (KSWO) - Fletcher's volunteer fire department got their certification that allows them to do more when responding to medical emergencies. The department is now a certified Emergency Medical Response Agency, and they are one of four certified in Comanche County. That means when they are called out to a medical emergency, the trained firefighters can administer possibly life-saving help, which they weren't allowed to do before.
Fletcher's fire Captain John Monroe says his station already had most of the requirements for the certification down. They had half the firefighters EMR trained, and had most of the medical supplies needed for this certification so he got started on the paperwork this time last year.
But he says it's more than just having an official certificate on the fire station wall.
"In some medical emergencies, minutes can mean life or death," said Monroe.
Monroe recognized a need in the community to have a fire department capable of effectively responding to fires, and medical emergencies.
"You're kind of limited with us being out here," said Monroe. "It takes a little bit for an ambulance to get here. And doing that allows us to start treatment before that ambulance arrives."
For the certification, there needs to be at least one certified EMR trained firefighter on every call.
They also need to have the up-to-date medical supplies, like oxygen, an automated external defibrillator, and a bag full of basic and advance medical supplies.
Now, the certified firefighters can use that AED, administer oxygen or drugs like aspirin to the patient.
Fletcher Fire Chief Daniel Lynch says before, no matter how trained his firefighters were, without this certification, they couldn't use it.
"You could have been a paramedic down here, and all you could do was put a band aid on and do CPR," said Chief Lynch. "So having a medical program and having a medical director we are able to get protocols now that we can practice what we've learned."
Lynch says that the medical calls they get are about 75 percent of all emergencies they respond to.
He says they have been building up the medical program along with the fire program for the past 3 to 4 years.
"It helps," said Chief Lynch. "It's a big asset to this community, something they haven't had in a long time. We cover 50 square miles, and we cover about 13 miles on the interstate so what we do helps."
The chief says they are not stopping at this level of certification. They have firefighters on their staff training to become paramedics, and plan to get the station certified so they can use that training during any medical emergency.
The department gives a lot of credit to their community, for donating the money to help them get the equipment they need to get this certification.