Seeley Swan Pathfinder -

By Fire Chief Dave Lane
Seeley Lake Rural Fire District 

Anatomy of an emergency medical response


September 3, 2020

There is confusion within the Seeley Lake community understanding what really happens during a 911 medical call. I hope that the following information will help people understand.

When 911 is called for a medical emergency the system is activated. The 911 dispatcher will ask several questions of the caller to utilize the Emergency Medical Dispatch protocols. Reference cards are used to follow the correct protocols. Once the information is gathered, the dispatcher will notify the appropriate agency of the request for aid, in this case the Seeley Lake Rural Fore District (SLRFD), a volunteer service provided. The SLRFD is Licensed as a Basic Life Support (BLS) service with an Advanced Life Support (ALS) endorsement. This means that the SLRFD is allowed to function at the ALS level if capable.

*Callers within the jurisdictional boundaries of any EMS service provider will receive service from that provider. The caller does not have the right to request any other agency to provide service as these boundaries are protected by statute.

Prior to arriving on scene the emergency responders use the dispatch information to aid in making the decisions for resource management. How much help is needed from other agencies, and what type of assistance is needed. This may include the possible utilization of a medical helicopter or maybe requesting a mutual aid response from another agency. Under certain situations the medical helicopter is automatically dispatched to the emergency. Once the responders arrive on scene a determination is made for continuing or canceling the response of additional aid.

Once on scene for all emergencies, the EMT's will use their training to calm the scene, manage the responders, patient(s) and the bystanders. At a multiple patient incident, EMT's are trained to use a triage system that will help them make the critical decisions for who is treated first, from the most life threatening to the least life threatening. Triage means "to sort". During triage, bystanders may become frustrated as the responder(s) will not be providing patient care. Legally, if the responder begins patient care they may not pause or discontinue care even temporarily to care for another patient. As other responders arrive, assignments are made and the patient care and transportation begins.

The triage system used by the SLRFD is the S.T.A.R.T. system. This stands for Simple Triage And Rapid Transport. All EMT's are required by the USDOT National Education Standards to receive training in this subject.

During the transportation of the patient(s) to the hospital, care continues. The attending EMT/Paramedic will contact the receiving hospital and give a detailed report to a nurse or physician. Upon arrival to the hospital the patient is taken into the emergency department where the transfer of care is completed.


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