Water craft enhances Asotin County EMS response time

CLARKSTON, WA - The medical response time for those in need and traveling on area waterways is expected to drop substantially.

A simple license has changed the way one local fire agency is able to take their role of saving lives.

"What we would do with a patient on dry land, we can do it with them while they're in the water," said EMS Division Chief Travis Myklebust.

This team of emergency medical technicians from the Asotin County Fire District have a skill set that's farther reaching than most EMT's. That's because they're now qualified to treat patients on the water.

"Instead of just the quick, grab pick me up, throw them in and get them, we can actually package the patient and provide good patient care," said Myklebust.

The Fire Marine Rescue Unit is one of the few vessels in the region that is now qualified by the Washington State Department of Health to function as a medical aid watercraft.

"The tourism that's in this area is huge so we want to be able to have that for this community," said Myklebust.

The watercraft has the capability of ripping through shallow areas upriver or jetting down river to assist Asotin County Fire District #1's mutual aid partners. When it comes to saving lives, every second gained is crucial when it comes to the response.

"It's just real important to have the fire fighting capability of the vessel and then the EMS capability," said Myklebust.

The water rescue unit has responded to more than a hundred emergencies during the last five years, while the vessel was working as a fire suppression unit for water-based emergencies.
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