Hales Corners - In an emergency, no one stops to ask whether the guy in uniform leaning over you is certified to deliver all the medical help that's practical.
But there is a difference between care levels for Emergency Medical Technicians, or EMTs, and the Hales Corners Fire Department is in the process of raising its services one notch.
In essence, the department is upgrading from an EMT Basic level to an EMT I. V. Technician rating, which allows local personnel to legally perform certain emergency services just shy of paramedic service.
Its purpose "We wanted to be able to provide a better service for the community," said Hales Corners Fire Chief Mike Jankowski.
"We've been at the EMT Basic level since the inception, and this was just the next logical step for us to proceed to provide the better care." I. V. Tech services include starting intravenous fluids, administering intramuscular and subcutaneous injections, administering medications for diabetic reactions and drug overdoses, and beginning the treatment of victims for cardiac chest pains.
The benefit for Hales Corners residents is the time saved in delivering that higher level of care, Jankowski said, but the EMTs also become more precise in their thinking because of their more advanced training.
"On the backside, we really get a better education on how to assess people," he said. "We go through more anatomy and physiology, and we can make a better determination whether we need to call in paramedics either from Franklin or Greenfield to provide service to us." And that requires a lot of new training and invested time. "It's quite the undertaking," Jankowski said.
The process, involving about two dozen EMTs to bring everyone within the department up to at least I. V. Tech status, began with some heavy administrative planning.
Jankowski was assisted by HCFD Lt. Nick Schreiber, who said he did a lot of work "getting the groundwork set." First, the department had to fill out paperwork with the state.
Combined with other preparations, the process took time.
"We've probably been working on and off for well over one to two years," Schreiber said.
On Jan. 8, the local training formally began. By the time the training process is completed in May, each EMT will have completed 70 hours of classroom work and 25 hours of clinic training, Jankowski said.
"Our personnel even had to give up a couple of Saturdays to accomplish everything," he added.
Then each EMT will take an online state exam, plus a "practical test" in which personnel demonstrates their ability to state officials.
"I hope to go live with our program July 5," he said, giving the department time to add medications and equipment on village ambulances prior to a state inspection.