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Pioneer of paramedic model to be honored
Date:4/3/2008

ponding to emergency calls to help get cats out of trees or provide first aid in the field, Dr. Criley said. But they didnt have any special tools to deal with heart attacks or special emergencies. We thought if we could bring up the level of training of these firefighters, we could make them essentially a coronary care unit in the field.

A pilot program was initiated at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in 1969, with classroom and bedside training.

Working side-by-side with nurses and physicians in the medical centers Coronary Care Unit, these firefighters learned how to recognize and provide emergency care to heart attack victims. They then began to respond to emergency calls, starting with a station wagon called the Heart Rescue Unit to bring EKG monitoring equipment, antiarrhythmic drugs and a defibrillator to the victim.

Two-way communication between the field and the base station in the Coronary Care Unit was maintained throughout the rescue. One paramedic and the nurse would then ride in a commercial ambulance to continue to provide advanced care in transit to the hospital.

During the first year of service, a nurse accompanied the firefighters on all their calls because the law didnt permit firefighters to administer intravenous medications or use a defibrillator.

After numerous trips to Sacramento and the invaluable help of late Los Angeles County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn, the Wedworth-Townsend Paramedic Act was passed and signed into law by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1971. Under that law, the firefighters now called paramedics could administer intravenous medications and use a defibrillator without nursing supervision.

In an only in LA twist, Hollywood executives heard of the service and developed a television show, called Emergency, about those early-day paramedic services. The TV show popularized the concept, leading to its widespread adoption by fire departments around the country.

Today, Dr. Cri
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Contact: Laura Mecoy
Lmecoy@issuesmanagement.com
310-546-5860
Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed)
Source:Eurekalert

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