Albuquerque's new class of paramedics hits the streets

Posted at: 04/25/2013 6:18 PM
Updated at: 04/25/2013 6:27 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Albuquerque has 28 brand new paramedics ready to hit the streets with the Fire Department, and when they do they are likely to find themselves working in a brand new way in rescue units and fire engines.

For years the department has assigned two paramedics to each rescue unit. The plan is to split those pairs up, keeping one paramedic in each rescue unit and putting one in each of the city’s fire engines.

The idea is to get paramedics in more emergency vehicles on the scene faster, with new defibrillator equipment on the fire engines.

But a lot of paramedics prefer working in pairs.

“When I come up on a scene I’m with a lieutenant that’s also a paramedic,” said veteran paramedic Max Heyman. “He can control that scene. I can work solely about patient care. I can start that IV, I can do that 12-lead, I can intubate. I can do whatever needs to be done on that patient while I have the other paramedic over here to control the scene.”

Fire Chief James Breen says the new deployment plan will speed up the average response time by 47 seconds – about 17 percent.

“Because we going to be able to get a paramedic to a particular scene faster, they’ll begin their interventions quicker and we’ll have better patient outcomes and essentially more lives being saved,” Breen said. “This is one of the best public safety practices across the United States.”

The 28 paramedics who graduated Thursday won’t actually increase the numbers. They will replace others who are retiring or moving on to other jobs, or to other cities.

Albuquerque has about 670 firefighters. All of them are trained as basic emergency medical technicians. About 200 are paramedics, qualified to do more to save lives.