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Durham Firefighters Train to Provide More Medical Services

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DURHAM — Firefighters are often first on the scene of life-threatening emergencies, but the help they can provide has been limited, until now.

Firefighters are first responders and often get to scenes before paramedics, but they are not always able to offer the services they would like.

"It's very frustrating to be on the scene and not be able to treat a person that needs treating," says Durham Fire Capt. W.E. Hall.

On July 1, that will change, as the Durham Fire Department, along with the county EMS, will increase the level of medical service in an effort to decrease response times.

"Sixty to 70 percent of our calls are EMS calls," says Durham Fire Capt. W.S. Roberts. And getting help to those people within the first eight minutes can make a big difference, Hall says.

At first, 21 firefighters will be trained at the advanced level. The squads will work in three of the city's busiest stations.

If needed, they will be able to perform advanced life-saving techniques like starting IV fluids and administering medications, even transporting a patient.

"Obviously if it was your mother or your father, you would want them to have the best available medical service they could possibly get, and that's what we're trying to achieve," Roberts says.

Firefighters and paramedics believe this improvement will help them keep up with growth in the area.

Greenville is the only other municipal fire department in the state that offers this type of advanced medical care.

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Julia Lewis, Reporter
Adrienne Traxinger, Photographer
Julie Moos, Web Editor

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