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Nine firefighters working on paramedic certification for Lathrop Manteca Fire
Lathrop Manteca Fire logo

While the Lathrop Manteca Fire District has been given the green light to proceed with adding paramedics to its engines, it could take more than 18 months before those paramedics start rolling out of firehouses in and around Lathrop.

The nine firefighters currently going to school to earn their paramedic certification are expected to complete the classroom portion of the program later this summer and will then have to complete the necessary clinical hours at area hospitals before moving on to the internship and final assessments.

That entire process, according to Division Chief Larry Madoski, will likely mean that the paramedics won’t be deployed until the first quarter of 2023 at the earliest.

And for the agency, that delay is actually a good thing – giving them time to iron out all of the necessary agreements with the San Joaquin County agency that governs emergency medical service as well as the ancillary elements required for such an overhaul.

According to Madoski, the medical doctor that is required to write the prescriptions necessary to stock the medicines that paramedics can distribute in the field is already in place, and plans are in place to outfit engines with locking compartments for that medication. Other things that are required to expand the medical scope of practice to allow for paramedics are also going to be ironed out during that 18-month process.

Madoski praised the work ethic of San Joaquin County Director of Healthcare Services Greg Dietrich and EMS Coordinator Jared Bagwell for working with the district and getting an agreement in place that will benefit the residents of Lathrop and the surrounding area.

Lathrop is currently served by Manteca District Ambulance which will continue to provide EMS transport services for emergencies in and around the Lathrop area. While Lathrop Manteca will deploy Advanced Life Support on its engines, it will not operate an ambulance as part of its mission – the Ripon Consolidated Fire District is the last agency in San Joaquin County to operate medical transport after Stockton’s longstanding program shuttered in 2006.

The cost of the nine firefighters to go through the certification process to become paramedics is being funded almost fully by a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for $410,000. The agency will need to contribute $37,000 in order to receive the full allotment of federal funds, but the savings will allow the district a comfortable cushion to bring its apparatus up to the standards needed for paramedic service.

The drive to get approval for the paramedic program was a key priority for former Fire Chief Gene Neely – who pushed the program forward prior to his retirement earlier this year.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.