Article by: Ben Conley, The Dominion Post
A now rescinded memo from the West Virginia Office of Emergency Medical Services sowed a bit of chaos in the fire and EMS communities last weekend.
The memo, which went out to all the state’s fire departments, said any department that wasn’t a certified EMS agency needed to immediately stop providing basic life support services, which includes providing oxygen, nitroglycerine, epinephrine and the use of certain practices to secure patient airways.
Mon EMS Executive Director Forest Weyen said the memo is in line with longstanding WVOEMS policies.
“But this shoot-from-the-hip memo is probably not the best idea,” Weyen told the Monongalia County Commission on Wednesday. “Especially not advising your EMS agencies, county emergency management or anyone else. There’s no guidance or transitional time or effective date in the future. It just sort of says you need to stop this right now. So I started getting calls from the local fire departments saying ‘What’s this memo,’ and I wasn’t even aware of a memo.”
On Monday, the memo was rescinded, but is expected to resurface in some form.
Weyen said he intends to work with the county’s volunteer fire departments to ensure they’re in compliance and provide any needed assistance.
“Now that we know the intentions of the state EMS office, it’s a good time to look at our agreements and make sure everything fits the bill. If certain agencies need to be licensed, we’ll get them to that point,” Weyen said.
“Those folks provide a fantastic service. We have a great working relationship with all of our fire departments. It might take us seven to nine minutes to get there but some of them are right around the corner,”
Weyen said he believes the purpose behind this push is to set a standard level of care and noted it is likely more targeted toward extremely rural parts of the state where volunteer fire departments arrive at a scene 30 minutes or more before an ambulance can get there.