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Sussex becomes fourth paramedic service in region

Jan. 15, 2013

Village of Sussex - A full time, locally based, paramedic level emergency medical service will be available to village residents as soon as it is approved by a Waukesha Memorial Hospital medical director.

Fire Chief Corky Curtis said Dr. Mark Schultz of Waukesha Memorial Hospital, who will serve as medical director for the fire department's paramedic program, is making a final review of all paramedic personnel in the department to make sure they are qualified to the standard he wants to attain.

The state has approved the village's application for a paramedic service license and the Village Board gave final approval last week to elevate the village's emergency medical service from Emergency Medical Technicians IV Tech to Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) paramedic.

The paramedic level service will be available to village resident 24/7. The program will be primarily staffed by paid, on-call volunteers who are trained as both firefighters and paramedics. Of the departments approximately 50 volunteers, 20 are trained as paramedics, according to the chief.

Paramedics are trained and licensed to perform a higher level of emergency medical care, particularly in the case of cardiac arrests, than nonparamedic EMTs.

"The treatment provided by a paramedic is often an extension of the level of treatment that the patient would be receiving if they were in the emergency room. Paramedic care can often result in treatment beginning sooner for the patient which can reduce the amount of time of the hospital stay," Curtis added.

The village has provided paramedic care since 2006 through a municipal agreement. Initially, the agreement enabled Sussex paramedics to perform emergency medical care under the auspices of a paramedic service license issued to the City of Delafield Fire Department. The license was later transferred to Lake County Fire and Rescue when the Delafield department was consolidated with the Lake County Fire Department.

The cost for the village to operate under the Lake Country Fire and Rescue license ranged from $200 to $400 per call.

Because the village has paramedic trained personnel as well as paramedic-equipped ambulances, the cost to convert to a village-licensed program is relatively inexpensive, Curtis explained.

Costs have been further reduced, he explained, because the paramedics, and not the village, paid for their training.

Sussex becomes the fourth fire department in Lake Country to provide paramedic services. The other departments are Lake Country Fire and Rescue, the Town of Lisbon, and Pewaukee.

Curtis was asked if four paramedic services were too many.

"From a taxpayer's point of view, you might say yes. But the person who is suffering from a heart attack and needs that level of care may not think so," he responded.

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