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Oildale medic squad saves lives since start in November

Two medic squads have been deployed in unincorporated Kern through Measure K funds
Posted at 11:05 AM, Mar 29, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-29 15:24:26-04

OILDALE, Calif. (KERO) — Austin Thomason, a firefighter/paramedic with the Kern County Fire Department says when he arrives on scene, he's the highest trained professional on-scene at the pre-hospital setting.

  • Video shows the Oildale medic squad in action, driving through Oildale
  • In four months, the Oildale medic squad has arrived to a scene where a person's heart stopped beating on four occasions, but they've been able to restart that person's heart and save their life.
  • The county allotted $5.2 million to KCFD to implement two medic squads in unincorporated areas in Kern County thanks to Measure K.

The section of North Chester and Roberts in Oildale is one of the most common response areas for the Kern County Fire Department’s new medic squad, and the department says despite their new beginnings, they’ve already made a difference in the community.
Checking out all personal protective gear and medical equipment marks the start of the day for Medic Squad 63 in Oildale.

After ensuring all equipment is working, the squad, made up of a fire captain and firefighter/paramedic is ready to respond to calls.

“When I arrive on scene as a firefighter/paramedic, the EMT/firefighters look at me, and all the pressure is now on me to know my skills and policies and to know what the doctor ordered ahead of time because there is no one else to turn to in those moments of crisis,” Austin Thomason, a firefighter/paramedic, said.

Thomason works on the Oildale medic squad that launched on November 15, 2023.

In four months of service, KCFD says that squad has responded to close to 1000 calls.

On four of those calls, someone’s heart had stopped, and the medic squad was able to save their life.

“When we do get those saves and bring someone back to their family and where they can function again in the lives of their loved ones, there’s nothing quite else that beats that,” Thomason said.

But, it doesn’t stop at the scene.

“If I have a critical patient, I am not allowed to hand off that patient off to a lesser level of care, which would be an EMT," he said. "You’ll find that our firefighter/paramedics will have to ride into the hospitals.”

Captain Andrew Freeborn with KCFD says saving lives like this is possible because of support from county tax dollars.

“Because of Measure K funding, we’re able to go ahead and bring Medic Squad 63 online.”

The county allotted $5.2 million to KCFD to implement two medic squads in unincorporated areas in Kern County.

With research, Freeborn says they deployed those squads to the areas with the most need.

“We’re able to run statistics, and we’re able to see where are we most active, where are we most busy around the county, and for our department, it was Oildale,” Freeborn said.

Now, Thomason and the rest of the medic quad can respond to more calls about breathing issues, seizures, and accidents in the Oildale area.

“These here are used for advanced airway," Thomason said, showing me an advanced breathing apparatus. "This is again a paramedic scope skill that EMT actually can’t do.”

He's bringing more equipment and a more advanced skill set than a traditional EMT.

“Being trained at such a high level, we take pride in that that we want to do our very best to give everyone the best chance of survival,” Thomason said.

In addition to the squad in Oildale, the fire department has also deployed a medic squad in Rosamond.

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