Last year Lathrop Manteca Firefighters responded to 16 overdose calls and 37 allergic reactions.
And by July of this year, all certified EMTs working for the department could be armed with the life-saving drugs that can counter both of those scenarios.
On Tuesday, the department learned that they had been selected as the first responding agency in San Joaquin County to deliver “Expanded EMT Optional Skills” that include delivering Narcan – an opiate antagonist that reverses the effects of powerful opiate drugs like heroin, fentanyl and other pain-killers – to those that overdose and epinephrine to those who are suffering from allergic reactions.
While those scenarios comprise a very small part of the 2,600 calls that Lathrop Manteca Fire District personnel ran in 2016, the life-saving component, according to Battalion Chief Larry Madoski, is an important one.
“While that’s certainly not the majority of the 2,600 calls for service we saw in 2016, it’s important to know that these are some of the most at-risk and sick patients,” Madoski said. “By bringing the Expanded EMT program here it gives us another tool to help save lives, and LMFD While the district may be smaller in the number of people that are served within its boundaries than some of its neighboring agencies, the Lathrop Manteca Fire District actually covers a much larger geographical area than any other fire service around it.
And they’ve always been on the cutting edge of adopting new techniques and technologies that improve the outlook of those that they assist in the worse scenarios possible. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, for example, Lathrop Manteca was a trailblazer in adopting the use of the automatic external defibrillator (AED) on its responding units years before it become so commonplace that they’re available behind glass in many shopping malls and training how to use them is included in most CPR classes today.
Seeing those advancements in technology and how they save lives, Madoski said, is truly one of the most amazing things he’s seen in more than two decades in the field.
“In 24 years of being a firefighter I never thought we’d see the advances we have seen today,” Madoski said recently at a symposium hosted by the San Joaquin County Emergency Medical Services Agency – the organization that approved the recent EMT Optional Skills certification for the district. “Who would have thought that if we can get to a stroke patient in time that a team of doctors could insert something into the brain to pull the clot out.
“It shows what is possible when we start working together. The taxpayer deserves to be the winner in government.”
It was Fire Chief Gene Neely that collaborated with the San Joaquin County EMS Agency to put the district in the running for consideration – the first large-scale rollout of the new program that has become a national trend in the wake of rampant opiate addiction. East Coast states like New York and New Jersey have taken the lead on the push to outfit police officers with naloxone – the chemical name of the powerful reversing drug that brings those who overdose back from the verge of death – while California has historically lagged in deploying the life-saving resource.
According to data from the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, New York had 201 departments equipped to carry naloxone in July of last year while neighboring New Jersey was in second place with 148 departments. California tied for 20th place on the list with West Virginia with five departments each.
According to Madoski, plans are already in place for the district’s EMTs – all its firefighters – to take the necessary training to legally carry the two medications and have the authorization to administer them by the end of May, more than one month before the new program is scheduled to go into effect.
“The Lathrop Manteca Fire District is a high-performing organization that consistently reviews service levels to see how we could be better stewards of the taxpayer,” Madoski said – noting that the service will be available to all four stations within the jurisdiction, including residents of Lathrop, Raymus Village, Oakwood Shores and rural areas like Nile Garden and New Haven.
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