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All Aboard: West Hartford Adds Paramedic Service to Emergency Response

All Aboard: West Hartford Adds Paramedic Service to Emergency Response

West Hartford first responders now include trained paramedics, a much-desired addition that ends decades of paying a private service.

“It's exciting for the department, it's really changed the landscape for what we do," Fire Chief Gary Allyn said. "We're a fire department that's 79 years old in its current configuration and this ranks right up there as being one of the big things that our fire department has done."

The new paramedic service began this summer. Prior to that when an emergency call went out a paramedic from American Medical Response (AMR) would head to the scene. The town had been paying AMR about $315,000 a year.

Now when a medical call comes in, the three groups of first responders include police, fire and ambulance with a paramedic on board the fire truck. The paramedic will stay with the patient until they arrive at the hospital. Chief Allyn says that means more efficient service with a cost-savings to local taxpayers. There are now 17 paramedics based at three of the five fire stations.


Full crew of paramedics back to top

Ultimately the town wants a full complement of 20 skilled paramedics – one at every station in town around the clock.

At the highest level of Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification, a paramedic is trained and certified to perform advanced life support, which includes administering IV fluids, injections, medications and performing advanced respiratory procedures.

The added equipment costs are about $470,000 and to help pay for it, the town has used about $200,000 from a federal grant and money from a nonrecurring expense fund. The switch from a commercial service won the unanimous approval of the town council and was then approved by the state Department of Public Health.

Chief Allyn called the change “a big deal and decades in the making.”