Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

New ambulance now in service

North County Fire Protection District dedicated its new advanced life-support ambulance at Fire Station 1 on April 10. Besides members of the NCFPD board, attendees included staff and board members of the Fallbrook Regional Health District which paid for almost half of the cost of the ambulance.

Fire Chief Keith McReynolds said, "It has been a long time since we put one (ambulance) in service, in decades." He joined the district in 1990, when there were five engines and three ambulances. They now have a fourth ambulance; "something to be proud of," McReynolds said.

Adding a fourth ambulance was necessitated by the long transport times on the I-15 involved in serving the whole area – 90 square miles. None of the local urgent care facilities are open 24 hours a day, McReynolds pointed out, so North County Fire provides after hours life support.

Despite mutual aid from Camp Pendleton, Oceanside, Vista and Deer Springs fire departments, having a fourth ambulance is "incredibly important when minutes matter," he added. Also having paramedics on each engine helps "stop the clock" in emergencies.

In 2023, the three ambulances carried out 3,526 transports, including 1,700 to Temecula Valley Hospital, 1,300 to Palomar Hospital and 267 to Tri-City Hospital. Of the more than 7,400 service calls made last year, 82% were medical calls.

McReynolds said that unlike many of the surrounding fire departments, North County Fire is fully staffed with "fantastic EMTs and paramedics...we have a champion medical officer who works with them through training."

One of the jobs of Medical Services Officer Mary Murphy is to teach CPR to area residents. She said that only 8% of people who experience a heart attack go home. However, this new ambulance can provide the same services that would be available in a hospital lobby when it comes to heart attacks.

Beyond the basic equipment of a regular ambulance, the advanced life support ambulance also has more specialized tools and supplies. Airways equipment includes a CO2 monitor, HEPA/viral filter. For vascular access, there are IV administration sets and tourniquets as well as syringes.

For monitoring, there are defibrillator pads, electrodes and electrode cables as well as a monitor/defibrillator w/12 lead EKG and pacing capability and an oxygen saturation monitoring device. Everything is also available in child and adult sizes.

It is also equipped with a wide range of drugs so the paramedics are better prepared to deal with cardiac arrest and stroke trauma, and to "make a difference in people's lives," Murphy said.

The ambulance was put in service April 8 said Battalion Chief Joey Bradshaw who stressed that having an additional ambulance means they have six more paramedics on staff ( two for each of three shifts).

He said that paramedics and EMTs are a symbol of emergency medical services while McReynolds said the department emphasizes customer service.

McReynolds also said he was inspired to join the fire department by the television show "Emergency." Emergency medical services have improved since then and today's ambulances are equipped to do so much more than the 'scoop and haul' approach of the very first ambulance service over a century ago.


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