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New certification puts Clarksville Fire Department closer to launching EMS division

The exterior of Clarksville Town Hall
Aprile Rickert
Clarksville officials have discussed bringing EMS services in-house in recent months, after years of using third-party agencies.

The Clarksville Fire Department is now certified to provide Advanced Life Support, which the chief called the first step in starting an in-house EMS division.

A recently acquired designation means Clarksville firefighters trained in Advanced Life Support can now use those skills when responding to calls for service with the department.

Advanced Life Support goes beyond basic lifesaving care to stabilize critical patients as they’re en route to or being prepared for transport to a hospital.

Clarksville Fire Chief Brandon Skaggs said that level of care could improve health outcomes — especially with serious issues like strokes or cardiac arrest — if the department arrives on scene sooner than an outside EMS provider.

“Every minute that you wait has a detrimental effect, so we’re trying to reduce that,” he said.

The department currently has two members who were trained in this level of care at other organizations. But before the new certification, they weren’t able to use those skills on a call.

Skaggs said it will be part of the curriculum for new recruits, and the department will eventually offer it to current staff.

Clarksville officials have discussed bringing EMS services in-house in recent months to improve response times and care. New Chapel EMS, which covers Clark County and parts of Floyd County, currently serves the town.

Skaggs said the new designation is one step toward making that happen.

“That was the first step is to get the certification,” he said. “Now our goal is to hire paramedics that will respond in response vehicles.”

Skaggs said the certification process started several months ago. It included state inspection of the department’s capabilities to provide higher level care and a waiver since they can’t currently perform Advanced Life Support 24 hours a day. He said the department also purchased new equipment including a roughly $40,000 cardiac monitor and medication safes.

Coverage of Southern Indiana is funded, in part, by Samtec Inc., the Hazel & Walter T. Bales Foundation, and the Caesars Foundation of Floyd County.

Aprile Rickert is LPM's Southern Indiana reporter. Email Aprile at arickert@lpm.org.