East Marion FD wins award for innovative idea

HOLLY MASTRANGELO COURTESY PHOTO | The East Marion Fire Deparment was recently named the EMS Agency of the Year by Suffolk County's REMSCO.

The East Marion Fire Department was named EMS Agency of the Year by Suffolk County’s Regional Emergency Medical Services Council earlier this month.

Firefighter and former chief Greg Wallace, who was last year’s EMS Leader of the Year, said his department has been recognized by REMSCO because it has partnered with the departments in Orient and Greenport to jointly provide advanced life support services.

In 2010, FEMA awarded the department a $58,000 grant for ALS equipment and entered into a joint-ALS agreement with its two neighboring fire departments.

Mr. Wallace described the program as “a model for other departments.”

“This is extremely innovative,” he said of the combined ALS program. “This allows us to provide a higher level of service and top-notch care.”

Mr. Wallace said it isn’t feasible for East Marion to provide ALS as a standalone agency because of the department’s small size and low call volume. In 2011, the department received 112 calls.

While the East Marion Fire Department has three ALS members, each of whom is trained to handle critical care situations, the program allows the three fire departments to pool 10 ALS members together.

It takes 12 months to become certified to perform ALS services and members need to complete a 450-hour course every three years.

In addition to increasing ALS resources to handle emergencies, Mr. Wallace said ALS members are able to keep their skills sharp because they have more opportunities to use them through the program.

East Marion fire chief Bryan Weingart said the Orient and Greenport fire departments should also be recognized because their resources help make the program successful.

“They get no other credit other than coming here to help,” Chief Weingart said. “They really need to be thanked.”

REMSCO is expected to hold an awards ceremony in October to honor the East Marion Fire Department.

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