The Newport News Fire Department was recently recognized as the Peninsula EMS Council’s Outstanding EMS Agency of the year.
The department also received the council’s 2018 award for Outstanding Contributions to EMS Health and Safety, and Lt. Andre Dorsey was recognized as the Outstanding Prehospital Provider for his work with the department’s Community Paramedicine/Mobile Integrated Health program.
The awards were presented at the council’s 2018 annual picnic on May 19, a day before the start of National EMS Week.
Interim Fire Chief, Scott W. Liebold, said he’s proud of the city’s firefighter-medics and praised them for their hard work and dedication.
“It just demonstrates the outstanding service our folks continue to provide to this community day in and day out.” he said.
The Peninsula EMS Council works to support emergency medical services in the Virginia Peninsula region. The annual recognitions are part of the Governor’s EMS Awards Program, which began in 1986. The program aims to recognize the outstanding contributions of individuals, agencies and community organizations and businesses that provide or support emergency medical care in Virginia.
The Outstanding EMS Agency award is presented to agencies that exemplify outstanding professionalism to the communities they serve. These agencies provide a high-level of patient care, which is evident by innovative training, community awareness, preventative health programs, public relations and efforts, and participating in local, regional and statewide EMS systems.
The Newport News Fire Department has implemented a number of programs and changes over the last year, which were highlighted in the nomination for that award.
The department added a third EMS Supervisor to ensure procedures, such as Rapid Sequence Intubation — the cornerstone of emergency airway management — and other methods that require additional experience, are available for the most critical patients, as quickly as possible.
There have also been changes to increase high-quality CPR, including the implementation of PulsePoint, an app that alerts trained bystanders when someone nearby needs CPR. The department also received from Riverside Health System in April three LUCAS Chest Compression devices, which allow medics to perform safer and more effective CPR.
Robert E. Lee, Assistant Chief of EMS, said the department is committed to innovation in emergency medical services.
“We continue to be progressive as an agency to provide the best service to improve patient outcomes,” he said.
But, he said, the employees are just as important as the programs and equipment.
“Newport News firefighter-medics continue to respond to over 20,000 EMS calls annually with pride and professionalism, making this what I believe to be the top EMS agency around.”
Also highlighted in the Outstanding EMS Agency nomination are the two other programs recognized by the council.
The department launched in early 2017 a Peer Support program, which aims to help firefighter-medics cope with the emotional toll of repeated exposure to stressful events. That program was recognized by the council for Outstanding Contributions to EMS Health and Safety.
The third award, presented to Lt. Andre Dorsey, recognizes Dorsey’s work with the department’s Community Paramedicine/Mobile Integrated Health program. The Outstanding Prehospital Provider award is presented to individuals who exemplify outstanding dedication to the communities they serve.
The program, implemented without additional funding from the city, aims to reduce unnecessary ambulance services by addressing the root causes of patients’ needs. Many people who call 911 do need some type of medical service, but often they don’t need an ambulance or the emergency room. Dorsey has worked to build relationships with Peninsula-area community agencies that can address some of those needs.
“I feel we are making some great progress to help members of the community who need the resources,” Dorsey said.
The department celebrated the program’s one-year anniversary on May 22. Dorsey’s work has helped facilitate patients’ medical appointments, connected citizens with needed medical equipment, and provided education to the public, among other accomplishments.
Dorsey said he’s looking forward to building relationships with more community agencies to increase the department’s abilities to help people in need.
“I can truly say it feels good to look forward to what's to come,” he said. “The program is steadily progressing in various ways to help the community.”