Collier Co., firefighters spar over EMS services

Posted at 8:12 AM, Feb 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-01 08:12:12-05
The North Collier Fire Department is expected to decide Friday if it will accept the terms of a settlement offered by the County Commission.
The department sued the commission over what it said were stall tactics while renewing the department's Advance Life Services certificate.
That certification enables the department to provide life saving assistance to victims of an accident that are more advanced than an EMT.  Those include IV therapy and intubations.
"We have many of the same drugs and tools that an ambulance has  so we can stabilize the patient in the time until the ambulance arrives." said Battalion Chief James Cunningham.
The need to renew the license came up after North Collier merged with the Big Corkscrew district in the beginning of 2015.  Cunningham is not sure why the process of approving the certificate it taking so long.
"I've heard a number of different reasons, from different commissioners why, but it seem to be divided as to the real reasons why we've been denied."
The settlement offered by the county to the department has a provision requiring North Collier to answer to the county's medical director, rather than its own.
District 2 Commissioner Georgia Hiller is frustrated by the delays.
 "To deprive the community of a higher level of emergency services, when it can be provided, is without question a danger to the public's health and safety."
Chief Cunningham says if the ALS certificate is approved it will help improve response times in the eastern half of the county, because more paramedics will be added.