“In 2009, we really moved up a level and added paramedics to the team,” Fisher said. “Paramedics are the highest level of proficiency in emergency services, and by adding them and their skillset to the team, we are able to offer advanced life support.”
Jason Fisher is the Director of the Benton County, Indiana, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) headquartered in Fowler, Indiana. The team has a total staff of 30 divided between full-time and part-time workers, with 15 of those being full-time field staff.
“We are an emergency service that covers the gamut of emergency medical needs for a community of a little over 8,600 people spread over 604 square miles,” Fisher said. “The largest town in the county is 2,400 people, and while we cover a range of medical emergencies, we have a large area to do it in.”
Fisher said the Benton County EMS has an interesting origin story. “One of the things that make us unique is our origin. We started in 1977 as a rural ambulance service by concerned members of the community. In 1984, we became an official part of the county once the government realized the important work we were doing.”
Fisher has been the Director for Benton County EMS since 2011 but he also has other important responsibilities in the community. He serves as the Benton County Homeland Security Director and is the County Deputy Coroner. “We have a lot of needs, and our entire team is proud to serve,” he said.
Fisher also keeps a focus on the future noting that there is always a need to level up and prepare.
“We are always on the lookout for qualified people now, and for the future,” he said.
Covering a large geographic area means the EMS team has to be ready for any medical emergency, and in the medical field, there are levels of proficiency.
“Prior to 2009,” Fisher said, “we were able to do basic life support, like all EMS services.” He explained to be a top-tier EMS, they needed to be able to do more.
“In 2009, we really moved up a level and added paramedics to the team,” Fisher said. “Paramedics are the highest level of proficiency in emergency services, and by adding them and their skill set to the team we are able to offer advanced life support.”
In practical terms, that means paramedics can work with 40 different medications beyond basic level care and are trained in advanced life-saving medical procedures.
Ben’s Blue Bags
An initiative that is now mandated state-wide, Ben’s Blue Bags was added recently to the suite of tools EMS responders have for emergency situations.
Ben’s Blue Bags is a non-profit educating first responders on how to react to, and interact with people with autism.
“We received a donation from Pattern Energy that allowed us to integrate Ben’s Blue Bags into our department. Every ambulance has one, and our team received great training on using them.”
The program was started in Crown Point, Indiana, by Matt Kodicek, a lieutenant with Crown Point Fire Rescue and father to an autistic son. Ben’s Blue Bags contain sensory toys that, when given to a person with autism, make a stressful situation easier for them to navigate while they talk to emergency responders. They are the size of a duffel bag and are colored blue to differentiate them from the rest of the equipment the EMS team carries.
“We’re really happy to have Ben’s Blue Bags,” Fisher said. “They are another way for us to level up our service.”