Every quarter, the O’Fallon Fire Protection District Citizen Planning Committee (CPC) comes together to give the leadership of the fire district insight and direction about the emergency service needs of the community and to provide feedback about long-term plans and future programs.
Beginning April 2, O’Fallon Fire Protection District (OFPD) crews will be testing fire hydrants throughout the community. Testing is expected to last through June.
O’Fallon Fire Protection District Hires Seven New Firefighter/Paramedics, Receives State Paramedic License, Opens Updated Fire Station
Over the past month, the O’Fallon Fire Protection District (OFPD) has enhanced emergency response services with the addition of seven experienced firefighter/paramedics, the implementation of paramedic-level emergency medical care, and completion of the renovation at Station #5 at 7140 South Outer Rd. 364.
“We now have 12 well-trained paramedics in the field with access to the equipment and technology to provide advanced emergency medical services such as administering medicine, securing an open airway and starting an IV. Also, we are closer to having the appropriate number of firefighters on our trucks to provide the most effective emergency response. The opportunity to provide this level of service is going to make a life-saving difference in our community,” OFPD Chief Tom Vineyard says.
The funding for the shift to paramedic-level emergency care and additional firefighter/ paramedics was made possible by the community’s approval of Proposition Safety in November 2016, while funding for facility and equipment updates continues to come from a bond issue that was approved in 2011.
“We have been carefully planning for the future of the District, and the emergency needs of our community, which is why we are strategically phasing in the implementation of the paramedic-level medical program along with facility and equipment updates,” Vineyard says.
The hiring of the new firefighter/paramedics is helping the District reach its goals of meeting national staffing standards and having a paramedic on every firetruck. Six additional firefighter/paramedics are scheduled to be hired in 2019 when updates to the District’s fire stations are complete. These updates will provide the space needed to house the nationally recommended four firefighters per shift. Every new firefighter the District hires will also be a licensed paramedic.
In addition to hiring additional responders, the District is now licensed by the state to provide paramedic-level care, and has advanced life support emergency medical equipment and medications on every fire truck. This includes state-of-the-art heart monitors that work with equipment at the hospital to instantly provide information to doctors in the emergency room.
In the area of facilities, the District reopened the now updated Fire Station #5 on the South Outer Road. The station, which was built more than 20 years ago, underwent a major renovation to update the living space and add one more bunk room. Fire Station #1 at 1200 North Main St. underwent minor modifications to add a bunk room, and the living quarters at Fire Station #4 located at 1306 Sunview Dr. is scheduled for a full replacement in the next two years. Late last year, a 15-year-old rescue pumper was replaced. The new firetruck can hold up to five firefighter/paramedics and is more efficient than the previous pumper truck.
This fall the O’Fallon Fire Protection District dedicated Engine 9154.
Fires caused by the improper disposal of cigarettes and other smoking materials are the No. 1 cause of home fire deaths in the United States.
Our firefighters are such an active part of our community and we are fortunate to be able to work with them to provide the best emergency response services to our community. This teamwork approach gives us as a board an inside perspective of the needs of our residents and our firefighters. With this perspective we are able to make sound decisions for the future of our District.
The fire district is one of the most important institutions in our strong community. With 88,000 people in our growing community it is important for us as a Board to make sure our District keeps up with the latest techniques and equipment to save people’s lives and property during an emergency.
I admire the level of service our firefighters provides to our community, they are really a great team. As a board it important for us to make sure our District is financially responsible. We also never know what kind emergency our first responders will encounter, so it is important they have the training to respond different fire, rescue and emergency medical situations.
Last year the O’Fallon Fire Protection District (OFPD) community approved Proposition Safety. This provided funding for the District to enhance emergency medical services by hiring additional firefighter/paramedics and implementing an Advanced Life Support program.
Coming Soon: Advanced Emergency Medical Services
Over the past year a team of firefighter/paramedics has worked on developing and launching this new level of emergency medical service, which includes enhanced training, updated equipment and new medical protocols.
“Safely implementing this program is a big undertaking, and we want to make sure every detail is covered before we begin offering Advanced Life Support services to our community,” OFPD Chief Tom Vineyard says.
Establishing medical protocols and updating training have been at the forefront of the planning. OFPD is working with the St. Charles County Ambulance District (SCCAD) to provide consistent patient care to residents of the District.
“We are using the same medical protocols as SCCAD, and have worked with them to update training for our existing paramedics,” Vineyard says.
Currently all OFPD firefighters are emergency medical technicians (EMTs), five currently have their paramedic license and all District new hires will be certified paramedics.
The District has tested and purchased new emergency medical equipment including heart monitors and software that will enable firefighter/paramedics to determine the presence of an acute heart attack, and send information directly to the hospital, life-saving medications and tools to assist with securing an airway.
Hiring for the additional firefighter/paramedics began in October.
“There was an overwhelming response from high qualified candidates for our new positions. We look forward to welcoming six new crew members early next year,” Vineyard says.
When the plan is fully implemented each crew will have a minimum of four firefighters per shift, which is recommended by national safety standards.
Under Construction: Engine Houses Updated
The District also continues to update equipment and facilities to meet the emergency needs of the community, including the ability to house up to five firefighter/paramedics per shift.
Station #5 at 7140 South Outer Rd. 364, which was built more than 20 years ago is currently undergoing a complete renovation, which will include the addition of one bunkroom.
The station will remain open during the construction, with the crew working from a temporary structure behind the main house. Station #1 at 200 North Main St. is undergoing minor modifications to add a bunk room and Station #4 at 1306 Sunview Dr.is scheduled for a full replacement in the next two years.