Fire Districts in Contra Costa Receive State of the Art Life-Saving Heart Monitors

December 24, 2012 17:08 pm · 50 comments


The Fire Districts of Contra Costa County recently received a substantial grant for 70 state of the art Physio Control LIFEPAK 15 (LP-15) cardiac monitor/defibrillators. The funds were obtained with the assistance of a FEMA grant and Measure H funds provided by the Contra Costa County Health Department along with a $360,000 discount obtained through American Medical Response’s (AMR) national vendor contract.

“Given the current economic climate and limited financial resources available to the County, acquiring these monitors at virtually no cost to fire districts was a huge win for our communities and the patients we treat,” said EMS Battalion Chief, Ben Smith. The total cost of the 70 units amounts to approximately $3 million. Virtually all of the cost was paid for by the funds obtained from the FEMA grant with additional funds made available through the Contra Costa County Health Department.

The LP-15’s advanced detection and monitoring systems allow emergency personnel to identify a very deadly but treatable cardiac condition (heart attack) known as a STEMI. This advanced technology allows the providers in the field to communicate with hospital emergency departments to prepare for immediate intervention in these cases. “Lives will be saved on a regular basis because of this advancement.” Smith said.

“When we started down the path of securing these monitors for our county fire service agencies, we knew it was going to be tough finding the funding,” said Smith. “The fact that we now have them clearly demonstrates the dedication and commitment that the County Fire agencies, Contra Costa County Health and AMR have to improving patient care in our county.”

The LP-15’s were officially delivered by Physio Control on December 6, and will be fully operational in the field by January 1, 2013, after fire crews have been fully trained on how to operate the new equipment. The new monitors will be used by the San Ramon Valley, Moraga-Orinda, Rodeo-Hercules, and Contra Costa County Fire Districts and the City of Pinole Fire Department.

While the new equipment will assist the fire service in saving lives during cardiac emergencies, the public still plays a critical role – if someone is experiencing chest pain, people should call 911 immediately without delay.

Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach, shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort. Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness. Anyone experiencing these symptoms needs to call 911 immediately.

JLG December 24, 2012 at 5:49 PM

I hope we can all say thank you to the Federal Government for this Christmas gift. And hope lives are saved.

J. December 24, 2012 at 6:06 PM

The Indian Casino in San Pablo just got an award for saving five of five lives with portable defibrillators. That’s five times the national average for saving folks.

No chicken little December 24, 2012 at 6:45 PM

JLG I think your thinking is a little skewed. It’s the taxpayer that is to be thanked.

Always Right December 24, 2012 at 7:21 PM

The fire department should fight fires… Not respond to medical emergencies. Complete waste o money.

Russ December 24, 2012 at 8:33 PM

Aren’t the firehouses themselves the ones that need life saving (see Measure Q)

joe blow December 24, 2012 at 9:43 PM


Triple Canopy December 24, 2012 at 9:48 PM

Who is going to pay for those when they are due for replacement?

Uh-huh. I thought so.

Dorothy December 24, 2012 at 9:54 PM

Can the firehouses that are suppose to close get a refund?

Cam December 24, 2012 at 10:40 PM

These are amazingly machines capable of identifying hundreds of heart rhythms lethal and non legal. They communicate via lie tooth to the hospitals an send EKG strips to them. They card overt, defibrillate and can even “pace” people like a pacemaker does.

Thats the Fact Jack December 24, 2012 at 11:25 PM

The Contra Costa County Emergency Medical Care System is one of the best in the world. The Survival rate for out of hospital Sudden Cardiac Arrest is one of the best in America, and for people experiencing Acute Heart Attack (MI), the detection, and 911 call until definative hospital care in the Cardiac Catherization Lab is pretty much unmatched anywhere in the U.S. The EMS System is designed to rely on 911 callers, bystander CPR, Fire Department First Responders, Ambulance Providers, and Hospital Care. There is absolutely nothing negative about this story, the funding was provided by Federal Grant, and the purpose of this equipment is to save lives and improve survival and outcome of residents and visitors of Contra Costa County.
Merry Christmas Everyone!!!

Me December 24, 2012 at 11:28 PM

Don’t really see why this is such a big deal. AMR already has all these same capabilities on their monitors, albeit just an older model. The FDs old monitors had most of these same capabilities, other than being able to wirelessly transmit the ekg to the hospital. They would just have to wait for AMR to arrive, who would then send the results to the hospital from their monitor. That still gave the hospital more than enough time to prepare for a STEMI patient. Now with these new monitors, even if the FD sends the EKG to the hospital first, AMR will still likely do their own EKG for charting purposes and to send an updated EKG to the hospital. Seems like another example of redundancy in services at a time when money is tight.

Disgusted December 24, 2012 at 11:31 PM

@always right, give it rest you wanna be, but will never be! Your posts are old like you. Merry Chrismas to all you angry people, I hope there is lump of coal under your tree. Never mind, you probably think this holiday is stupid. Unreal!

Thats the Fact Jack December 25, 2012 at 12:08 AM

@me – If you really must question some of the reasons, I don’ think that you are looking at the big picture, and more importantly what is best for patient care. Contra Costa Fire has dispatched over 93,000 calls for service so far in 2012. A Large percentage of those calls are for Medical Emergencies. In about 90% those cases the Fire Engine arrives first and the Firefighter Paramedic provides Advanced Life Support to the patient. If the patient is serious, or the case is complex, the Fire Department Medic will usually retain care and accompany the patient in the Ambualnce to the Hospital with (2) Paramedics provding care in the Ambulance. Many years ago the private Ambulance had two Paramedics on board, but it was discovered that it was much more efficient to have one Paramedic on the Fire Engine becasue when the Ambualnce transports a patient to the hosptial, that resource is commited and no longer available for another medical emergency call in that area. Many times the 911 system is so swamped that multiple Ambualnces are committed to transport and the Fire Engine Paramedic is available to provide care until an Ambualnce can respond from another area, or after transferring care at a hospital. In the past Contra Costa Fire and the Private Ambulance has equipment, pads, leads, etc, that were not compatible, sometimes causing delays in patient care, and costing the taxpayers additional money since the Ambulance billsmedical insurance for that equipment and the Fire Department does not. This type of thing is not unusual at all, as in Alameda County the private Ambualnce Company actually purchased the same monitor for all of the Fire Agencies. Having the availability of rapid trained responders in a serious 911 medical emergency call is a proven model that is utilized throughout: the Nation, California, and the Bay Area. Fire Departments have long been involved in EMS with LA, Miami, and Seattle Fire Departments all having the first Paramedic Programs in the United States.

noflow December 25, 2012 at 12:57 AM

So the firehouses won’t be empty after all!

Lazy Fire Medic December 25, 2012 at 5:59 AM

Half the time on medical calls the fire dept don’t even bring in there cardiac monitors, they wait for AMR to show up and bring in theres

Forever Grateful December 25, 2012 at 6:59 AM

@ That’s the Fact Jack
Thank for taking the time to write in! So nice to read comments from folks who are educated in the subject that is brought up. Thank you and have a lovely Christmas!

Anon December 25, 2012 at 8:07 AM

The fire department “don’t bring in there”?? Must be another one of those highly qualified, highly educated AMR medics.

Laura Zah December 25, 2012 at 8:25 AM

#2 Jay, If that casino in San Pablo would restrict smoking to outside I’ll bet there would be a lot less heart attacks. You can’t breathe in that place!

Sucks4u December 25, 2012 at 8:36 AM

Awsome technology ! Too bad some Clayton residents will have to wait
Longer to get it after they close station 11 !

anon December 25, 2012 at 9:29 AM

“In the past Contra Costa Fire and the Private Ambulance has equipment, pads, leads, etc, that were not compatible, sometimes causing delays in patient care”

How much more F’ing stupid can you get ??

“#2 Jay, If that casino in San Pablo would restrict smoking to outside I’ll bet there would be a lot less heart attacks. You can’t breathe in that place!”

Those who smoke deserve everything bad that comes to them & not on my tax dollar–they can stop if they want to.

Always Right December 25, 2012 at 12:40 PM

@Thats the Fact Jack – Nice attempt to justify the outrageous abuse of taxpayer money. Explain to me why rolling huge firetrucks to medical emergencies makes sense- it doesn’t – unless you are a over paid firefighter trying to justify your salary.

Always Right December 25, 2012 at 12:43 PM

@disgusting – Merry Christmas to you too !

Big Dog December 25, 2012 at 1:08 PM

@always wrong – GO AWAY You TROLL it’s Christmas!!! You must live a pretty miserable existence if you feel the need to attack people that would ultimately sacrafice their lives for yours. You are pathetic and I feel sorry for you. I am sure that it made you extremely happy that firefighters in New York were killed yesterday by a whacko (like yourself) responding to try to save someones property. Please do us all a favor and crawl back under the rock that live under. No one likes your negativity, and especially not on christmas.

Big Dog December 25, 2012 at 1:11 PM

It would make PERFECT SENSE if you were the one calling 911 for you or your family, then you would ask, “What took you so long?”

anon December 25, 2012 at 3:54 PM

They are closing stations– but look at the number (lots) of retired Fire people who make $100,000 & 200,00 a year in retirement…

Hahaha December 25, 2012 at 5:53 PM

Look how you people on here are never satisfied! We get a grant for monitors and it’s still a bad thing. You want a different method of fire/ems delivery to save money so they close the slowest stations and then you want more stations and firefighters. We change the retirement plans for all new hires(what we can legally do) and its never enough.

Your a bunch of spoiled children that think you have any idea of how to run a fire department. Guess what? You DON’T!!!

Stick with your unsatifying jobs and stop crying. Cause were not gonna stop giving you the best service possible just as we always have and WILL continue to do!

Ps. Your over paid lazy firemen ran calls all night so you could be home and safe with your families.

Because.. December 25, 2012 at 5:59 PM

You would complain when we have to drive by your burning house in our hybrid ems squad to go to the station to get our big red FIRE ENGINE to save your ass.

That’s why. Merry Christmas O ignorant one.

JLG December 25, 2012 at 6:34 PM

@ Hahaha

No chicken little December 25, 2012 at 6:55 PM

Your,we risk our life for you, is played out, a lot of us go to work and risk our lives doing jobs, that make buildings, roads and other things safe for every-one. Including you.. We’re all tired of the firefighter union pap. Don’t question us were gods. NOT!

Curious December 25, 2012 at 7:38 PM

Sure sounds like your an AMR medic. Also sounds like your upset because the FD might send to the hospital before you and that takes money away from AMR. I think its great that both of you will have the capability.

Hey chicken smalls... December 25, 2012 at 7:48 PM

Two firefighters were just shot and killed responding to a fire. KILLED!
Four firefighters were just hit and seriously hurt on the free in THIS county in the last MONTH.

Please carry on and tell me about your dangerous job!…….

Seriously tell me what you do for a living…..


anon December 25, 2012 at 7:59 PM

Thank you to all of our firefighters and medics out there! I appreciate all that you do for us, keep up the great work! Merry Christmasr

Unbelievable December 25, 2012 at 8:12 PM

Any topic relating to fire services in Contra Costa County seems to follow the same path on blog sites. They all eventually get to firefighter bashing and “keyboard quarterbacking” on how to deliver emergency services. You eventually get the comments like ANON #25 and Always Right #4. Even though these two comments have been answered and beat to death, they continue to return in the same form. It’s like asking “what is 2+2 and being told 4, but then asking the same question again instead of a follow-up question or an opposing answer.
Ladies and gentlemen who follow these threads, here is a tip: If you read a comment in the form of a question, and then another commenter attempts to answer it, and the original commenter attacks the responder, rather then ask a follow up or provide an opposing argument, “that person is only on here to stir up the s….!” I admit that I myself find some of the comments funny whether they are truthful or not, at times, but I do know the difference. It reminds of “playing the dozens” at lunch in high school. You know, like “your nose is so big…….etc…”
Watch the responses I get to this blog and the question below:
Question: Why do firefighters respond to medical calls?
Answer: Fire Stations were originally placed throughout the community so firefighters could arrive on the scene of fires within 4 to 8 minutes. Since fire calls have decreased and emergency medical capabilities have improved significantly, it made since to train firefighters to perform medical procedures. Fire stations are located throughout the community and often arrived on scene first. Certain medical procedures that are performed within the first few minutes of a medical emergency can be the difference between quality of life, life, limb, or death. Most of these procedures require more then two people to perform them.
The second reason is to assist in mitigating a medical emergency and getting the appropriate care to a victim in a timely manner. Firefighters help with gaining access to patients by extricating patients trapped in vehicles or in other places and by getting through locked doors, down hillsides, or into confined spaces. They assist with medical procedures, moving equipment, lifting patients or other items. They help make a scene safe by dealing with fire or other threats at vehicle accidents or industrial accidents. Many incidents involve multiple patients that immediately overwhelm a single ambulance crew. Once an ambulance crew has a patient, they must take them to the hospital. The fire crew can continue to treat other patients while waiting for other ambulances to arrive. The list goes on.
Now let’s wait for the response.
Here are a few that I am sure to get:
You’re just a firefighter that is trying to justify your outrageous salary! Ok, but see the question above and the answer to it. Please respond to it and not me.
I see firefighters standing around doing nothing on medical calls!
Yeah, well it depends on the call and the need for help. 911 is for an emergency, unfortunately many people use it inappropriately. The system and the response is designed for real emergencies. The majority of the time your smoke detector goes off, it is for something other then a fire. Do you throw it out? Many that have, paid the price when it was not there when they needed it.

I have many more, but let’s get this started.

Unbelievable December 25, 2012 at 8:32 PM

In reference to my previous post, I forgot the most common response to a firefighter defending what firefighters do. It is similar to comment 29 by No Chicken Little. You see, firefighters respond to 911 calls. This consists of fires, vehicle accidents, falls, shootings, other assaults, building collapses, weather related emergencies, water rescues…. etc… So in order for us to defend what we do, we have to bring up what we do. Those firefighter haters have turned defending our worth to the community as scare tactics,or crying for sympathy. You see, before the market crash, people thanked firefighters for their services as they do the military and police. There was no need to justify the profession.
So, Chicken Little, what is a acceptable response to being accused of greedy, lazy, and worthless, if you are a firefighter? Should a firefighter refer to the fact that he/she washes their fire engine, or cleans the fire station to justify salaries and benefits and community needs?
Better yet, how about having anyone who choses to attack firefighter wages and worth, list their pay, benefits, and job requirements so we can all provide our opinions and keep this fair.

nytemuvr December 25, 2012 at 8:48 PM

If you all that are complaing about smoke in the San Pablo Casino, why don’t you go somewhere else to throw your money away and not risk the toxic second-hand smoke….just a thought.
Merry Christmas.

Always Right December 25, 2012 at 9:28 PM

@Big Dog –

Merry Christmas to you too !

By the way, the heroic fire fighters you mentioned who were gunned down by some crazed miscreant were VOLUNTEERS. They do not represent you or the other overpaid firefighters in our area who hang out in their firehouse playing video games – waiting for some minor accident or health emergency to respojnd to so they can juice their stats.

As has been suggested on this board before, we should either go back to a part time/volunteer fire force or just have the loal police department take the function over and use the firehouses as police sub-stations.

Policy of Truth December 25, 2012 at 11:29 PM

@ Always Right,

I hope for your sake you don’t spend too much time putting together your posts.

There is not much, if anything to respond to. If you were trying to make yourself look ridiculous, then you succeeded. Bravo.

You may want to consider posting on a topic you are better qualified to opine on, because babbling about emergency services doesn’t appear to be your strong suit.

p.s. Merry Christmas to everyone. A special thanks to all of the firefighters who spend the Holidays away from family and friends to remain at the ready to help those in need. Please know that the majority of us appreciate your dedication and service. Sorry you have to put up with juvenile remarks posted by an ungrateful and uneducated few.

@always right December 25, 2012 at 11:34 PM

Hahahahahahahaha your response is so rediculius.

That proves why no one needs to respond to you anymore. You literally are talking out of your ass!!

What a joke! Great ideas you have! Hahaha

Cruella December 26, 2012 at 8:09 AM

I appreciate our firefighters who put their lives on the line, the same way I appreciate our law enforcement officers. Hat’s off to you and Merry Christmas and best wishes for a wonderful (and safe) new year. Please don’t let a few scrooges get to you. The majority of us love and appreciate you!

Durun Kagin December 26, 2012 at 8:25 AM

#35 That is good advice & it is exactly what I did. I went there once and never went back.

No chicken little December 26, 2012 at 8:30 AM

My Profession, is solidly in the top 10 most dangerous jobs. Firefighter is not.But so many of us are kiled it only makes the local paper. It’s like car crashes and small plane crashes. Local car crashes Barely make the paper. A Small plane crash anywhere in the country makes the paper. But that’s what I signed up for. It doesn’t give me the right to buy politicians who Negotiate my contract. In return I stuff their political coffers getting bigger and bigger contracts. Collapsing city and counties, General funds. Police and fire pension obligations bigger than the total budget for the county. I Respect police and firefighters I really do. My family started in the fire services when it was Mt. Diablo, Then Consolidated,Retiring under Contra Costa. The last 20 years everyone thought the money train would never end,but it did. Now it’s time to pay the piper. But the piper only has IOUs and no tax base to pay them. Merry Christmas and a happy new year.

@chicken tender December 26, 2012 at 9:56 AM

Uhhh so please tell us what you do?

I’m guessing you do road work and wish you would have passed a ff test but didn’t come close.
If your to ashamed to tell us because you feel it’s embarrassing that’s ok.

No chicken little December 26, 2012 at 10:35 AM

Actually I am a road worker. And yes my job is more dangerous than yours! Were out on the freeway all the time with cars racing by! You guys only go on like one fire a year! Plus we make the roads safe for cars to drive on so that proves we should be paid better than you!!!

AND for the record! The reason I dont like you guys is that my wife left me for a firefighter and I will never let that go!

@No chicken little December 26, 2012 at 11:09 AM

Citing the “most dangerous” line shows your ignorance. It’s a death statistic that is quoted out of context in this debate quite often.

If I have a construction company and I’m doing a roof job, I can troll the Home Depot parking lot for a crew. Most of the skill set involves knowing which end of the hammer drives the nail. It’s listed as one of the more dangerous because the barrier to entry and the training is nearly nil. Lots of people do face plants on those jobs and become death statistics.

On the other hand, fire fighters in this area are required to do training constantly. On the order of 200 hrs per year. Because nothing sucks more than having the people arriving to save you become victims themselves. Then the problem becomes twice as big for someone else.

That mandated training increases readiness and safety at the same time. It’s largely why you don’t see more fire fighters in the statistics you’re pointing to. An advanced state of training with safety precautions is largely to credit.

Ditto with fishing boats or most any of the other top 10 “most deadly”. Look at the barriers to entry and look at the training requirements. That explains the stats quite clearly.

Volunteers are a high risk alternative solution. Don’t take my word for it. Ask your home owner’s insurance company. Volunteers cannot match the readiness and training of a full-time professional. The risk management statistics show this and are reflected in your insurance policy premium.

So while you think you’re saving a dollar on the front end doing fire protection on the cheap, you’re paying 3 dollars on the back end for being stupid about the big picture.

No chicken little December 26, 2012 at 11:19 AM

You know i kind of see what your saying. I looked up the statistics and was wondering why police officers or even US soldiers wernt even on the list. I guess the training does play a big part of it. I have been under alot of stress at work getting the lines on the road straight and very stressed with my home life and with life in general. I really dont even like myself.

I am glad they recieved a grant to offer better ems service for me and I do appreciate firefighters for what they do….except the one who stole my wife….he can burn in hell.

No chicken little December 26, 2012 at 11:21 AM

I never wrote 43 when you can’t debate you impersonate and defame. LoL

No chicken little December 26, 2012 at 11:59 AM

Im sorry for my comments. I have been diagnosed bi polar and have many other issues that I struggle with daily. The largest is jealousy.


Always Right December 26, 2012 at 1:10 PM

You know I haven’t ever looked at the actual reports either as far as the top dangerous jobs.

Why arnt police fire or soldiers in that list.

I guess I’m just frustrated to by what’s happened with our economy so I guess getting a grant for your heart zapping equipment is a good thing

And for the record… I’m not switching sides but come on “chicken little” your a road worker and your saying your job is more dangerous? I think they might win that argument.

Still though… They are payed way way to much!!!

@Always Right December 26, 2012 at 1:12 PM

Gosh Always Wrong…

Here’s what I’m betting. If you were having a heart attack, (with your door locked and you couldn’t get to the door), you surely wouldn’t turn away the Fire Department when they were on scene in 3-5 minutes to break down your door to help you with oxygen, cpr, or whatever it took to keep you alive until EMS could “medically” transport you (which is what EMS is good at) to the nearest Hospital.

Or would you rather that a couple of paramedics who don’t carry the equipment necessary to break down your door to get to you, wait until the Fire Department comes to help them?

First Responders vs. Medical Transport

DOH – good lord you’re not smart!

Fireman B December 26, 2012 at 9:35 PM

@Always Right – so who determines what jobs should be volunteer? I would love to hand out money at a bank and I think I can do it better then bankers can so should they be volunteers? My brother owns a computer and plays on this thing called the Internet – I think he would like to be the CEO of Google. So, should all tech companies be volunteer?

Oh wait – No – those jobs require skill and professional skills, we could never make those volunteer.

I am a professional. I train to do my job. I am proud of what I do and I do it well.

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