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Archive for Sunday, September 14, 1997

MEDICAL SERVICES ONE AGENCY

September 14, 1997

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The merger of the fire and medical department is expected to be finished by Jan. 1, 1998.

The new logos on Lawrence fire trucks and ambulances this year are just one sign of change.

At the beginning of this year, public service entities known as the Lawrence Fire Department and Douglas County Ambulance Service ceased to exist.

A new agency combining both fire and medical services was born. It's known as Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical.

Fire & Medical Director Jim McSwain, whose former title was Lawrence fire chief, said the merger has been moving along steadily.

"Everybody's been working hard to make it happen," he said. "We're each trying to do what the other department was doing.

"The people who were doing DCAS are melting into fire roles and firefighters are melting into paramedics."

So far, he said, 44 firefighters have completed training to become intermediate level emergency medical technicians.

Medical personnel are currently being trained as firefighters.

"It's been real hectic, but everybody's working hard to make it work," he said.

Ted McFarlane, former director of DCAS, is now assistant director of the Fire & Medical service.

In the first half of this year, the department responded to 845 fire calls and 2,888 medical calls.

McSwain said the advantage of having a combined department was evident during a recent fire in North Lawrence, in which several people were injured.

"There were three medical units to assist us on the fire ground," he said.

"The first units there were a medical unit and a fire unit, and we were able to treat the parents and the children that had escaped from the fire."

"It gives us more resources on both sides of the ball," McSwain said.

Fire and medical cross-training is expected to be completed by Jan. 1.

McSwain said another advantage is that by 1998, the department will be running ambulances to various parts of the county and city from five locations, rather than two.

Fire and medical stations are located at 746 Ky. (Station No. 1), 1941 Haskell (No. 2), 3708 W. Sixth (No. 3), 2819 Stone Barn Ter. (No. 4), 1839 Mass. (No. 5) and 225 Maine (No. 6).

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