The Whitefish Fire Department provides ALS (Advanced Life Support – Paramedic) transport ambulance services as part of the Flathead County Emergency Medical Services. Our primary response area includes:
- The City of Whitefish
- The Whitefish Fire Service Area
- The Olney Fire District
- Portions of the Flathead Fire Service Area
Ambulance runs account for 70% to 75% of the calls for service received by the Whitefish Fire Department. Most ambulance runs result in a patient transport to either North Valley Hospital or down to Kalispell Regional Medical Center.
The Whitefish Fire Department’s career staff are all cross trained as Firefighter / ALS providers, 14 are Paramedics and 1 is an Advanced EMT. Many of our volunteers are also Paramedics.
Our career staff is split between three shifts of five with a minimum staffing of four. For most ambulance calls we respond with an ambulance staffed by two and the fire engine staffed by the other two. Having four trained medical responders on scene allows us to perform medical interventions faster, safely carry a patient along with all our equipment from the home, providing a safer and rapid transport. Many medical procedures require more than just two providers, for example the “Pit Crew” CPR approach which has demonstrated higher patient survival rates.
Our ambulance service is funded though several avenues:
- 1st: Patient billing, but Medicare and Medicaid adjustments don’t come close to meeting our costs.
- 2nd: A small amount from Flathead County Emergency Medical Services.
- 3rd: City of Whitefish taxpayer support.
We do provide a program called Rescue Care to assist local residents with their ambulance bills.