News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Medical calls lead service demand

During 2018, the Sisters-Camp Sherman Rural Fire Protection District responded to 1,163 emergencies including 89 fire-related calls, 862 EMS-related calls, 30 public service calls, 153 false alarm/good intent calls, and 29 other calls.

Patients who sought treatment at the main fire station totaled 128 for 2018. The District responded to 220 back-to-back incidents, which occur when a second incident is dispatched prior to the completion of the first incident.

Of the 862 emergency medical calls in 2018, 144 were for chest pain (including 14 cardiac arrests), 100 respiratory distress; 96 altered mental status; 92 weakness; and 72 syncope (fainting).

The District has started tracking walk-ins who seek treatment, to help medical providers decide if there is enough demand in Sisters for an urgent-care service. For the same reason, they are also tracking how many times they provide treatment on a call and how many are transported to a medical facility.

The majority of 911 calls in the district are for medical emergencies. Emergency response personnel include: 15 paramedics; 18 EMTs; five emergency medical responders; and nine CPR/First Aid-only for a total of 47. Annual training to maintain certification levels, as well as certain specialized trainings, is necessary for emergency medical personnel, career and volunteer.

From a survey conducted last fall of community members and partners with whom the Fire District often works (U.S. Forest Service, Black Butte Ranch Fire, Cloverdale Fire, City of Sisters, ODOT, and Deschutes County), ambulance response and transport was considered the most important service offered by the Fire District, with structural fire protection in second place, and wildland fire response third.

Other services offered include fire prevention services, disaster planning and preparedness, public education programs, and injury prevention programs.

The District participates in the FireMed ambulance membership program which provides coverage if residents are transported to the hospital by ground ambulance. Membership provides coverage in over 64,500 square miles of Oregon. In addition to ground transport membership programs, two air ambulance companies provide transport by rotary or fixed-wing aircraft for critically injured or sick patients. The vast majority of medical patients are transported by ground ambulance.

In 2018, there were 472 transports by ground ambulance and seven by air transport.

Because Sisters is a wildland-urban interface area, Sisters firefighters are called on to provide structure protection when wildfires come close to town. Sisters firefighters, both career and volunteer, participated in three fire mobilization deployments ordered by the State Fire Marshal in 2018 in response to conflagrations, including the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, the Graham Fire near Lake Billy Chinook, and the Substation Fire near The Dalles.


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