In response to the need for medical support on active wildland fires, REMSA launched two Wildland Fire Teams – one located in Plumas County in the Care Flight Ground service area and one in Washoe County, Nevada in the REMSA service area.
During a wildland fire, the special team’s Paramedics, Advanced Emergency Medical Technicians (AEMTs) and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) operate under the Medical Branch of the incident. Teams are either dedicated as a stand-by unit for the entire incident or attached to divisions on the fire providing care on the line. Paramedics and AEMTs on the wildland fire line move with the firefighters and provide medical care under an expanded scope of practice for illness and injuries that include insect bites, wound care, dehydration, burns, blisters, cardiac arrest and trauma. While many of the wildland firefighters have emergency medical training and are able to begin emergency medical care on one another, the presence of the Wildland Fire Team of Paramedics and EMTs allows them to stay engaged in fire suppression, rather than taking valuable resources away from the fire fighting effort.
Paramedics and EMTs interested in joining this special team must apply and advance through an interview process with team members, supervisors and representatives from the clinical department. Next, they must pass the same pack test that all wildland firefighters pass which involves completing a 3-mile walk with a 45-pound pack within 45 minutes. Once they have been accepted onto the team, the medics and EMTs complete all introductory wildland courses which include fire line safety, intro to fire weather behavior, and fire shelter use and deployment.
Wildland Fire Paramedics and AEMTs can be deployed for up to 14 days at a time, without relief. While Nevada and northeastern California are the primary requesters for the REMSA and Care Flight Ground Wildland Fire Teams, both teams are part of the federal government’s Resource Ordering and Status System which serves Oregon, Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Washington and California.