Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Peoria Heights Firefighters Gain Advanced Status

There is an incredible article in the Peoria Journal Star this morning.

The article states that the Peoria Heights Fire Department received its official Advanced Life Support certification last night. This makes it the first city or village run ambulance service to offer paramedic care 24 hours per day, seven days a week in Peoria County history.

Please see this article and this article which gives some history regarding the above.

I don't think that the Peoria Heights firefighters ever trusted Advanced Medical Transport (AMT) to do a good job for the people of Peoria Heights. I don't think they trusted former OSF Project Medical Directors to do the right thing for the people of Peoria Heights.

The Peoria Heights firefighters have watched for 15 years as the Peoria Fire Department was kept out of the "paramedic business" in Peoria. They are aware of the conflict of interest that kept Peoria mired in Basic Life Support.

But during the last couple of years the Peoria Fire Department has been upgraded to paramedic and Peoria citizens serviced by Station #12 are receiving advanced life support for the first time in Peoria history. (I have been told that Station #12 in Peoria is responding to 911 medical calls with advanced life support 2-3 times each day.)

Conflict of interest is still present in Peoria's medical community but Dr. Cheryl Colbenson, the Project Medical Director for the Peoria region, gave the "official certification" to the Peoria Heights firefighters last night. She is an OSF employee and was only able to certify the Heights firefighters with OSF's and Dr. George Hevesy's approval. Dr. Hevesy has been on OSF's and AMTs's salary for many years.

EMS is slowly upgrading in the Peoria area. It has been a long struggle, but it is changing.

Here is today's Journal article regarding Peoria Heights Fire Department:

Heights firefighters gain advanced status
Department 1st in county to offer around-the-clock advanced coverage.

Posted Oct 06, 2009 @ 10:03 PM

PEORIA HEIGHTS — The Peoria Heights Fire Department received its official Advanced Life Support certification at the Village Board meeting Tuesday night, making it the first city- or village-run ambulance service to offer advanced coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week in Peoria County.

Officially certified by the state Department of Public Health, the new, more advanced, less restrictive procedures and equipment were available to paramedics and ambulance staff on the first ambulance run after 7 p.m. Tuesday.

"We've gone through our records and we do believe that the Peoria Heights Fire Department Ambulance Services is the first 24/7, advanced life support, transporting agency in Peoria County history," said Kenny Martin, ambulance administrator. "We're all pretty well pumped up about it."

As recently as 2007, the village's ambulance service had 12 part-time employees and was able only to provide basic life support and coverage from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. There are now 37 people on staff, including three full-time shift leaders, and 13 licensed paramedics. Of the 24 employees who are certified emergency medical technicians, 13 are currently in training to become paramedics.

The new designation changes the way paramedics can treat patients on their way to emergency services at an area hospital. The service is able to carry and use a wider range of medications, including narcotics. Paramedics now are able to use a heart monitor and advanced airway equipment on patients.

"Basically what it does is allow us to do more advanced procedures in the field," Martin said. "It's unusual for a department our size to be able to do what we have done by getting this certification."

The service passed the inspection of four public health inspectors Tuesday morning and was given the official certification at the board meeting Tuesday evening by Cheryl Colbenson, the medical director of Region 2 Emergency Medical Services, which includes Peoria County.

Scott Hilyard can be reached at 686-3244 or at

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