In 1997 the Newton Ambulance Department combined with the Newton Fire Department to form Newton Fire/EMS. Before the merger, Newton Ambulance Department had been at the forefront of modern EMS, enjoying the distinction of being the first department in the state -- and among the first departments in the entire nation -- to provide paramedic-level care. Today the department consists of 45 line personnel, of which about half are Firefighter/Paramedics and the other half are Firefighter/EMTs.
Paramedics are highly trained in advanced life support services and are capable of providing many critical prehospital interventions, including EKG monitoring and interpretation, intravenous access, endotracheal intubation, and pain management. They also administer a broad range of medications. EMTs are trained in basic life support functions and enhance paramedic care by assisting the paramedic with various support tasks. They serve as the ambulance driver on most medical calls.
Staffing and Response
Newton Fire/EMS ambulances are typically staffed with one paramedic and one EMT. Depending on information received from dispatch, an engine company may respond with the ambulance. This configuration provides the manpower necessary for some incidents while keeping the engine company available for other incidents as needed. In addition to the ambulance and engine company, a chief officer may respond in a staff vehicle to fulfill a supervisory role or provide additional manpower on medical incidents.
Newton Fire/EMS paramedics employ liberal protocols that allow them to offer the most effective and up-to-date lifesaving techniques to their patients. The department strives to maintain high standards in advanced life-support services, placing emphasis on ensuring that all protocols are current with the latest national research and practices. Newton Fire/EMS also contributes to this research, recently forming a partnership with Wichita State University to perform a study examining the effectiveness of the department's RSI (rapid sequence induction) protocol.
Department paramedics utilize the latest in diagnostic tools to help them identify cardiac problems and provide patients with proper treatment and appropriate transport destinations. Twelve-lead EKGs are commonly performed in the field and can accurately identify acute cardiac injuries; this allows paramedics to alert receiving facilities, resulting in more timely hospital-based treatments.
Another example of the department's progressive protocols is the trauma bypass protocol for patients who have critical traumatic injuries. Newton is fortunate that two of the state's three level-one trauma centers are located less than 30 minutes away in Wichita. The trauma bypass protocol allows patients who suffer life-threatening traumatic injuries to be transported directly to a trauma center, where they can receive definitive care without delay.
Dr. Paul Bogner serves as medical director for Newton Fire/EMS. This fundamental position is necessary to authorize paramedics to employ department protocols. Dr. Bogner is active in protocol development, implementation and review. A monthly meeting is held with Dr. Bogner, during which department members review and discuss EMS calls with the director. This meeting is a well-attended round-table discussion, which allows members to analyze elements of calls involving critical patients and receive feedback from the medical director.
Newton Medical Center
Newton Fire/EMS has a close working relationship with its primary transport destination, Newton Medical Center (NMC). This relationship provides excellent communication that leads to more positive patient outcomes. Newton Fire/EMS paramedics have the ability to consult with NMC emergency department physicians when confronted with atypical situations in the field. When delivering patients to NMC, paramedics also work closely with emergency department nurses and physicians to ensure a timely and uninterrupted continuum of care. Department paramedics also maintain staff affiliate privileges at NMC, allowing for enhanced clinical experiences and educational opportunities.
Newton Fire/EMS's primary response district includes the cities of Newton and North Newton, as well as the eastern half of Harvey County. The department also provides primary ambulance services for the volunteer fire districts of Walton and Whitewater and fulfills mutual aid requests form surrounding volunteer EMS departments in Harvey County when paramedic care or additional manpower is needed.
Call Volume and Statistics
Of the more than 3,000 calls Newton Fire/EMS responds to each year, more than 80 percent are calls for emergency medical services. This equates to roughly nine calls per day.