'It’s a win-win': Walton and Liberty fire departments partner to expand medical services

Sierra Rains
Northwest Florida Daily News

DeFUNIAK SPRINGS — Walton County Fire Rescue and the Liberty Volunteer Fire Department are partnering to ensure first responders are equipped with the supplies and training needed to provide quality care during medical emergencies. 

The agencies updated their mutual aid agreement May 14 to standardize medical treatment for county residents. The agreement includes a set of protocols for all first responders with Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) certification to follow when responding to medical calls. 

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Walton County Fire Rescue on Tuesday supplied the Liberty Volunteer Fire Department with two automated external defibrillators and five basic life support medical bags. The agencies updated their mutual aid agreement May 14 to standardize medical treatment for residents.

“Ensuring that the residents of Walton County are provided with the best medical care possible is our top priority,” WCFR Chief Tracey Vause said in a news release. “This partnership with Liberty Volunteer Fire Department will ensure our volunteer firefighters and emergency responders are equipped with all of the supplies and training necessary to provide patients with the highest quality care.”

Liberty Assistant Chief Tony Roy said this was something the two agencies had been working on for a while. They already had an agreement to lend services across jurisdictional boundaries, but wanted to establish more up-to-date protocols for medical responses. 

The agreement will also help them expand services with additional equipment. Equipment can be costly for the volunteer department, which runs solely off grants and a municipal services benefit unit (MSBU) of $75 per house in the fire district. 

As a part of the new agreement, WCFR on Tuesday supplied Liberty with two automated external defibrillators, five basic life support medical bags and a secured supply cabinet for medical supply storage. Roy said the cabinet will be replenished once a month. 

Medical supplies donated by Walton County Fire Rescue on Tuesday are displayed on a table at the Liberty Volunteer Fire Department. The supplies include two automated external defibrillators and five basic life support medical bags.

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The department will also now have access to WCFR’s inventory management software to allow it to order medical supplies that will be provided by WCFR. 

“Anytime you get additional equipment it’s a good thing,” Roy said. “It’s a good thing for our citizens. It’s a good thing for EMS because we can start doing procedures before they get on scene.”

The Liberty Volunteer Fire Department covers 89 square miles. Roy said they try to keep a truck stationed in the south end of the district, one in the middle and one up north to increase response times. With more medical bags on hand, they will be able to keep those trucks fully stocked. 

“Last week there was a CPR save within our fire district with us and EMS, and that was because our response time was three minutes. So it helps our response times,” Roy said. “We have medical bags in our trucks, but now we can expand that service with additional equipment.” 

Volunteer firefighters will also be able to attend quarterly trainings with the WCFR training division to further their knowledge on medical procedures. Roy said volunteers attended their first training class Tuesday night, and are excited to continue expanding medical services and training. 

“Our hope is to expand that training program in the future to allow the emergency medical responders to do more procedures in the field,” Roy said. “It’s a win-win. The big benefactor is the citizens of Walton County and the citizens of Liberty Fire District.”