PUNTA GORDA, Fla. - Fire fighters are usually the first to respond to a medical emergency, but often times, a patient has to wait for an ambulance to also arrive on-scene. Now all of the Punta Gorda fire departments will have a licensed paramedic on board.
As Wink News discovered, the extra set of hands can make all the difference when every moment counts.
"Not only will it save lives, it has already proven incredibly beneficial," said Interim Fire Chief Ray Briggs.
In a community where the average age is over 60, Punta Gorda Fire Department #2 will now provide advanced life support to city residents.
"With the majority of our calls being emergency medical calls, it was just the right decision," said Briggs.
All city fire departments will now have a licensed paramedic to ride along with the EMT. It increases the amount of medical treatment a patient can get before an ambulance arrives.
"It could be an asthma attack or a diabetic emergency where that provision of care a little sooner makes a big difference in the quality of life," he said.
So how much does it cost to fund this level of care?
"Each station runs in the area of about $100,000 with the gear with the equipment. We didn't hire additional personnel, we just took our training to the next level," Briggs stated.
In addition, they are using equipment like the Autopulse, a machine that performs CPR.
This week the city approved two more such devices at about $16,000 each.
"It makes people feel a lot more confident that someone would be there closer with the things they need," said Punta Gorda resident, Julie Mitchem.