The Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Division of the Penn Township Fire Department is a very big and very busy part of what we do. Since "Johnny and Roy" became a national phenomenon as L.A. County Firefighter-Paramedics on the TV show EMERGENCY!in the early 1970's, fire departments across the US have been following suit by assuming their own important part of the three-tier process in getting you to emergency care in a hospital or trauma center. Access to emergency care and transport begins with the call to 911, where a trained Emergency Medical Dispatcher (EMD) sends the closest help, and provides instructions over the phone to the caller, which will help the sick or injured person while waiting for trained help to arrive. This is an especially important link in cases like a cardiac arrest (heart attack).
There are currently only 11 paramedic ambulances for the entire St. Joseph County area (not counting volunteer Basic EMT services in the towns of Lakeville, New Carlisle, North Liberty & Walkerton). There are 38 firehouses. That means it is much more likely that a fire truck is closer to you at any time than an ambulance. So, with that thinking, the system is designed that whenever anyone calls 911 for a medical emergency, the closest fire engine is sent to the scene at the same time as a paramedic unit, to provide immediate care to a patient while the ambulance is still enroute.
The Penn Fire Department’s Emergency Medical Services Division has undergone massive change since the days when First Responders answered calls with not much more than an orange First-Aid box and a resuscitator.
Penn Fire has been a leader in providing EMS, from the early days in the 1970s, when fire departments became much more than just firefighters. Following the implementation of a first response program in the 1970s, Penn progressed in the 1990s to the first early defibrillation program in St. Joseph County, aimed at providing heart attack victims with rapid intervention, as a paramedic ambulance traveled from South Bend or Mishawaka.
Starting in 1997, Penn Fire hosted a county-subsidized paramedic ambulance at our station on McKinley Highway. In 2012, the Township Board and the Fire Department Administration decided it was in the best interests of the township residents to implement the township’s own full-time paramedic ambulance. The ambulance would be exclusively dedicated to Penn Township residents. It would also allow for two more firefighters to be on duty each day, at no additional expense to the residents.
In July of 2012, Penn Fire launched a full-time paramedic service, with a paramedic-staffed SUV at our Jackson Road station. We followed that in October of 2012, with a 24/7 ambulance based at our McKinley Highway station. The new services have proved to be a dramatic success. Penn paramedics have provided life-saving interventions in dozens of cases in the first several months since the service was launched.
Penn Fire will continue to evaluate our delivery of EMS services, and promises to stay on the cutting edge, as we deliver top-notch emergency medical service to your family and ours.