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HomeBusiness & CommunityThe Conundrum of Advanced Life Support Certification

The Conundrum of Advanced Life Support Certification

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From discussions between Brooksville Fire Chief Brad Sufficool and the City of Brooksville City Council, it appears that upgrading the city’s fire department to Advanced Life Support (ALS) from the current Basic Life Support (BLS) system is somewhat of a chicken-and-egg problem.

Sufficool contends that department staff need higher compensation and better benefits in order to retain and build upon existing talent. If they cannot attract and retain quality staff, then it is difficult to train them for ALS certification and achieve ALS certification for the entire department.
Some council members expressed that without that ALS certification, higher compensation isn’t warranted.

ALS aims to enhance the department’s emergency response capabilities. The city’s fire service currently operates under BLS, which involves basic emergency care techniques such as CPR and automated external defibrillators (AEDs). The goal is to transition to ALS, which involves more sophisticated medical interventions, including advanced airway management, IV access and medication administration. These capabilities are crucial for handling severe emergencies such as cardiac arrests, strokes and other critical conditions pre-hospital.

There are over 50 delivery models for emergency medical care, with the fire service playing a crucial role in many. These models range from BLS engines doing first responses with either BLS or ALS transport to ALS engines that also perform first responses paired with either BLS or ALS transport. Some models even extend ALS capabilities to other emergency vehicles, like truck companies and squads.
The types of emergency vehicles available and the paramedics’ certifications determine the fire department’s level of service. To attract and retain qualified paramedics, the city offers a stipend to those who obtain an ALS certification. After paramedics complete a provisional period with Hernando County Fire Rescue, which includes a precepting process under the supervision of a medical director, they receive a biweekly payment of this stipend in full.

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This stipend system was implemented two years ago to help maintain and enhance the department’s workforce capabilities. The ultimate goal is for the Brooksville Fire Department to fully transition to being an ALS provider, ensuring a higher level of care and efficiency in emergency medical response.

The transition to ALS will enable the Brooksville Fire Department to better serve the community by providing more comprehensive and advanced medical care in emergency situations. The ongoing efforts to upgrade training and incentivize certifications are key to achieving this goal.

By the end of the discussion, city council members agreed that as they enter budget season soon, they should look into solutions for acquiring funding to further the city’s goal of being an ALS department. Sufficool stressed that better pay and benefits for the city’s paramedics are crucial to continuing to attract and retain qualified paramedics.

Summer Hampton
Summer Hampton
Summer Hampton is a graduate of the University of South Florida with a bachelor's degree in communication focused in culture and media. She is Poynter ACES certified in editing through the Poynter Institute, with a certificate of book publishing obtained through the University of Denver.
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