Poplarville Fire Department Receives $100,000 Grant for Life-Saving ALS Program

Published 12:32 pm Thursday, May 18, 2023

During Tuesdays regularly called Board of Alderman Meeting, the Poplarville Fire Department accepted a $100,000 grant from the Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation (LPRVF) toward its ALS Program. The Advanced Life Support (ALS) Program trains healthcare providers (In this case our Poplarville FD) to care for adult patients who are experiencing life-threatening emergencies such as cardiac arrest, acute coronary syndrome, or stroke. Fire Chief Jason Bannister along with 4 others are certified paramedics. The 4 others are Deputy Chief Kevin Briggs, Mike Barnes, Cameron Ladner, and one currently in Paramedic school.

The ALS program has been in the works for some time now, and according to Bannister, it’s a new program for the state.

“None transporting AOS is a completely new concept for the state of Mississippi” he stated.

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This allows paramedics or emergency medical technicians (EMTs) to contact a physician from the field via radio or other means to obtain instructions on further care of a patient. This is referred to as a ‘Medical Direction Doctor’. This also meant paramedics worked and operated under a doctor, and finding willful doctors was at shorthand. Medical Direction Doctors is the license that the Poplarville FD and other departments use under ALS to perform the necessary skills as paramedics.

“Paramedics do a lot of advanced skills and a lot of evasive skills that aren’t allowed without a doctor’s supervision,” stated Bannister. “So he’s our supervisor.”

Recently the State of Mississippi passed for Medical Direction Doctor, and they use doctors from the University of Jackson Medical Center.

The LPRVF grant will completely fund the Poplarville FD ALS life-saving equipment for the amount of $100,000. They’ll purchase a Heart Monitor, a LUCUS CPR device, video laryngoscopes, and EZ-IO Drill along with a Statpack Backpack to carry the necessary equipment.

How all this will impact Poplarville? Well, it impacts all because there is an EMT shortage going on in the Country. According to CBS news reports in 2021, 1/3 of employed EMTs quit their job. The main reasons were because of the COVID-19 crisis that hit medical professionals harder than anyone. This translates to longer response time and longer travel time for an ambulance in an emergency.

“It’s going to make a huge difference in patient outcomes,” stated Briggs.

“This is going to narrow that time frame down, from the time that patient has a medical emergency until an advanced level of care is at their door. That’s the whole reason we’ve come up to this,” stated Bannister.

Pearl River County is the first to have this program and Briggs who was head of acquiring this program hopes others will follow in Poplarville’s footsteps. Once the department gets a model of how they acquired this program and what they’ve learned throughout the process, they will pass it along to other counties and fire departments.

With this program, the Poplarville Fire Department will be able to move toward medical calls in Pearl River County while still keeping the main thing, the main thing.

“You don’t have the amount of fires like back in the old days, now it’s transitioning to more medical. If you have guys in the department that are trained and have the knowledge to perform medical care to patients, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have those things to provide for the community, said Briggs.

With this advanced level of care, the Department now has the equipment and oversight to save more lives.