EMS Response & Inter-facility Transports
Medical calls make up approximately 74% of what we do at EJFR. We are staffed 24 hours a day to provide a critical link in the “Chain of Survival” for sick or injured patients. The three staffed stations in EJFR’s district ensure that citizens receive quality emergency care within minutes of calling 911.
Fire Departments have provided EMS services since the Middle Ages. The symbol of the fire service, the Maltese Cross, originates from the Knights of Malta, who helped treat burn victims from battles during the Crusades.
Today this legacy continues as every firefighter at East Jefferson Fire Rescue is also certified as also an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) or Paramedic. Our Paramedics bring the emergency room to you in a pre-hospital setting and can administer many drugs and medical tests to help treat your emergency before you get to the emergency room in the hospital. This time-saving is vital for treatment of trauma, cardiac and stroke care when every minute of intervention counts towards improving long- term outcomes.
If a patient needs more advanced care than Jefferson Healthcare can provide, our personnel transport patients to the best facility prescribed for the patient’s condition. It is not unusual for our department to initiate multiple transports to Seattle on a daily basis to a larger, more specialized hospitals like Harborview, Swedish or Virginia Mason.
Since March of 2019 we have designated a transport ambulance with advanced life support equipment specifically designed for long ground transports. EJFR hired three single-role paramedics and three single-role EMT’s to handle the daily transports out of the area. This inter-facility transport unit helps to ensure that adequate staffing remains in the district for local emergencies.
Some medical emergencies require the rapid transport that can only be provided by a helicopter flight. Our department sets up landing zones and fire protection for these landings at the hospital, airport and in field locations throughout our district depending on the location of the patient.
As a proud partner with the University of Washington and Harborview Medical Center’s Medic One program, East Jefferson Fire Rescue benefits from the opportunity to send our paramedic students to one of the premier training programs in the U.S.
Founded in the late 1960’s, Medic One was the product of several Seattle visionaries, Gordon Vickery, Chief of the Seattle Fire Department, and Dr. Leonard A. Cobb, a University of Washington cardiologist. Initially focused on bringing advanced life support system to the homes of heart attack victims to improve their chances of survival, the Medic One program introduced the concept that non-physicians could provide high-quality care with remote physician guidance—and save lives.
Today, Medic One’s response system of 911, medical dispatch, basic life support, and paramedic advanced life support enjoys an international reputation for innovation and excellence in pre-hospital emergency care. This quality of care depends on the continuing collaboration of several resources, including Harborview Medical Center, the University of Washington, the Medic One Foundation and the enthusiastic participation by regional fire departments, including East Jefferson Fire Rescue.
The year-long, 2,500 hour Medic One training program is intense and thorough—most medic trainees have an average of 200 patient contacts before receiving their certification. The Medic One trainee has 800 patient contacts.
According to Dr. Michael K. Copass, former Medical Director of Seattle Medic One and Director of the Medic One Paramedic Training Program, the program is the model for much of the world. “We regularly host visitors from Australia, Poland, the UK, Brazil, Chile, Italy, Switzerland, France and many other countries.”
Dr. Copass said the goal of Medic One training is to take young EMT’s and teach them how to think like doctors in certain situations. “It’s like building an old Porsche, by hand. The Medic One Foundation allows for this finely crafted, handmade program. And the results speak for themselves.”
Although the majority of our operating expenses are financed through property tax revenue, EJFR also receives income from the transportation of patients, both to hospitals and between hospitals.
The HIPAA Privacy Rule establishes national standards to protect individuals’ medical records and other personal health information and applies to health plans, health care clearinghouses, and those health care providers that conduct certain health care transactions electronically. The Rule requires appropriate safeguards to protect the privacy of personal health information, and sets limits and conditions on the uses and disclosures that may be made of such information without patient authorization. The Rule also gives patients rights over their health information, including rights to examine and obtain a copy of their health records, and to request corrections.
The HIPAA privacy rule precludes us from releasing the names of our patients—to the press, to inquiring parties, or to anyone else without the express written consent of the patient or their designated legal representative.
Jefferson County EMS Protocols
Regional Protocols – December 2020
History of Emergency Medical Services
Early accounts for consideration of emergency medical services date back to the summer of 1918 when an ambulance fund was established for contribution to the Seattle Fire Department ambulance fund. The advent of a structured public emergency medical service in the city of Port Townsend had its formal beginning in the late 1970s within the fire department by providing initial emergency response with an engine company using a resuscitator for heart attacks and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation needs. Firefighters and police officers were trained in first aid and CPR.
Actual patient transport was conducted by a private ambulance service operated from Carroll’s Mortuary using a hearse. Cascade Ambulance Company was formed by three firefighters in 1960 after refurbishing a 1958 Cadillac ambulance resurrected from a wrecking yard. The ambulance company changed ownership a few times until 1970 when it closed. Olympic Ambulance Service stationed an ambulance in Port Townsend shortly thereafter with little success. Homer Smith Insurance Agency of Port Townsend donated a van-style used ambulance to the city in 1980. By then, the fire department lieutenants had been formally trained and certified by the state as emergency medical technicians. In the following years, new firefighter hires were required to be certified emergency medical technicians as well as firefighters.
The city entered into contract with two county fire agencies—District No. 1 and No. 6—to provide ambulance transport service to the local hospital since there were no other ambulances available for county transport.
Jefferson General Hospital had an emergency room but arriving emergency medical technicians would present their patient/s to hospital floor nurses who would not be able to provide definitive care and treatment until the on-duty doctor arrived from the local clinic or from home. It was not until 1988 that the hospital added a new emergency wing, staffing the department with full-time nurses and physicians and becoming licensed as a Level IV trauma care facility. Emergency medical services delivery as a formal function of the Port Townsend Fire Department was now following the national trend of primary service being provided by fire departments.
The department bought its first ambulance (new, Type III) in 1981 and a second ambulance in 1982; in 1991 and 1997 respectively, diesel-powered replacement ambulances were purchased, and the 1980s models were placed in reserve status. In 1990, the city hired its first paramedic firefighter to provide advanced life support medical services for its citizens. Five additional hires in years following provided at least one paramedic on duty at all times. As with most, if not all fire districts, Jefferson County Fire Protection District No. 1 started out as an entirely volunteer agency, hiring its first full-time firefighter/EMT in August of 1996. Dubbed the Medic 13 program, (representing District No.1 and their partner, Port Ludlow’s District No. 3), during the first five months of its existence, per diem paramedic personnel were utilized, followed by the hiring of three full-time firefighter/paramedics in November of 1997.
In December of 1997, District No. 1 hired its first full-time fire chief, and in October of 1998, a second full-time firefighter/EMT was hired followed by a third in August of 1999. In 2000, the citizens voted for a perpetual tax levy dedicated to the delivery of emergency medical services by the fire department. Calls for service rose steadily from 470 total alarms in 1983 to 1,337 alarms in 1999 (of which 1,070 were medical calls). In 2007, East Jefferson Fire Rescue responded to 3,079. In 2013, EJFR was toned for 3,616 total calls.
In August of 2007, a contract for inter-facilities transport between East Jefferson Fire Rescue and Jefferson Healthcare was signed by both parties. In 2006, prior to signing an official agreement, EJFR logged 1,450 transports. In 2007, that number jumped to 1,698. In May of 2008, the district hired Assistant Chief Gordon Pomeroy to head up the EMS program.
In 2021 EJFR hired their first Medical Services Officer (MSO), Paramedic Tammy Ridgway. MSO Ridgway oversees the emergency medical services (EMS) program for the District. This includes emergency medical response, supplies and equipment, infection/exposure control, and EMS related instruction, teaching, training such as case review, quality control, EMS related content and evaluations. The EJFR MSO works closely with The Jefferson County EMS Council and Medical Program Director to deliver quality services to our community.