On Oct. 18 2019, the North Carolina Office of Emergency Medical Services (NCOEMS) approved the designation of Advance Life Support (ALS) non-transport certification for the Currituck County fire engine stationed at the Knotts Island Fire Station. The ALS certification allows the fire engine to carry the same life-saving equipment that is carried on the ALS ambulance. The fire engine will have an assigned cross-trained firefighter/paramedic personnel. The highly specialized equipment carried on the engine includes: cardiac monitor capable of 12-lead EKG; IV supplies; emergency pharmacy cardiac & pulmonary rescue medications; and intubation equipment to provide the ability to place a breathing tube for unconscious patients.
The fire engine up-grade will provide residents of Knotts Island an extra layer of emergency protection in the event the ambulance is already committed on another emergency. Since Currituck County employees began staffing the fire station in November of 2018, there have been more than 20 separate emergencies when the ambulance was already committed on another situation. On average, the Knotts Island Fire Station responds to 250 emergencies a year, with 180 of those calls including a medical emergency.
This is third certified ALS Fire Engine in Currituck County. The other two are in the Corolla fire district. The Corolla fire district has successfully resuscitated 8 patients from full cardiac arrest since implementing this capability. Currituck County has embraced the fire-based EMS model and is the only municipality in NE North Carolina to utilize this model. Fire-base EMS is a common service model with the fire departments in the Hampton Roads area.
Pictured with the Knotts Island fire engine are (L) Firefighter Daniel Wottawa and (R) Fire Lieutenant/Paramedic Frank Russo.