SAN ANTONIO HEIGHTS - One hundred twenty five years into its history, this unincorporated town will be getting its own paramedic.
The small community just north of Upland is scheduled to have a paramedic at Fire Station 12 beginning in September after years of residents and firefighters making requests to San Bernardino County.
But, in order for the county to make good on the offer, the residents were responsible for raising the $50,000 needed for new equipment.
The community ended up raising $55,555.
"We were willing to do it because we feel it is more than likely to save a life in the very near future, and you can't put a price on it," said Ken Petschow, the president of the San Antonio Heights Association.
The paramedic will also serve the residents of Mt. Baldy, just north of San Antonio Heights.
"A vast majority of calls for service in San Antonio Heights are for medical assistance, and we have quite an aging population in the Heights," Petschow said. "So having an actual paramedic rather than just a medic on the engine with equipment than can do advanced life saving is really, really important."
When San Bernardino County fire officials gave the OK to post a paramedic at the Heights station, fire Capt. Bryant O'Hara of Station 12 teamed up with members of the association and residents to raise the necessary money.
"It was purely a grass- roots movement between the two communities, mainly San Antonio Heights," O'Hara said. "I worked with the board here, and we started to market and distribute the information."
The firefighters at the station responded to more than 200 medical emergencies in 2011, O'Hara said.
Having a paramedic stationed in the Heights will shorten response times to medical emergencies.
The private ambulance company the county contracts with is unable to respond to calls in the Heights and Mt. Baldy as quickly as the firefighters at Station 12, O'Hara said.
"We would be on the scene and that patient would be in need of a paramedic and we're there and we can't deliver those services," he said. "We have to wait for that private ambulance company to show up. They couldn't be here fast enough and now the whole time the patient is suffering."
O'Hara said the paramedic will be able to provide advanced life support, rather than just the basic life support currently being provided.
The money the residents raised will purchase a monitor that analyzes a patients heart rhythm and delivers an electric shock to set the heart back to the correct rhythm.
The piece of equipment can also send the information to the hospital before the patient arrives, O'Hara said.
"So now when the patient gets to the hospital's emergency room, instead of starting from scratch and going back to the ER doctor, the patient can go almost directly into surgery," he said.
O'Hara said he's happy the community will now have a paramedic.
"I'm really happy and excited for the residents of both communities because it's something that they need and should have had years and years ago," he said.
"Now being able get one for themselves is a testament to what the people believe in."