Guy Pence and Bill Arsenault at the Idaho State Capital
Wildland Fire Rescue
Our primary mission is to support the care and needs of the sick and injured Wildland Firefighter and other supportive positions involved in wildland fire operations, no matter their IQCS qualifications. From the camp crew to the line firefighter to overhead team, the Wildland Fire Rescue Paramedic provides preventative health care as well as medical emergency response.
Wildland Fire Rescue was developed as a specialty of providing Advanced Life Support to wildland environments over ten years ago. Numerous wildfires over the years have often resulted in incidents-within-incidents due to the nature of the occupation of wildfire suppression.
It was recognized that the very people who required both preventative medical as well as emergency medical care often did not have the equipment or resources immediately available to them to provide the much needed treatment. Additionally it was found that many EMS providers had very little wildland fire experience or training, there were no equipment standards, or they were unsure what they were legally allowed to do when on a wildfire.
To change that, WFR enlisted the help of the Idaho State Emergency Medical Services Bureau. No other agency had been developed such as WFR and it was a new licensure model that was untested and uncharted. To create WFR, it had to meet the exact same standards as a typical 911 ambulance or fire based system with the exception of being non-transport. This included personnel certifications and training, equipment standards, reporting requirements, and radio usage as well as dispatching and medical oversight.
It's well understood that the wildland fire environment is a unique setting unto itself. To accomplish the mission of expeditious care and ease of movement, equipment had to fit the model of portability and efficiency while still meeting a state standard.
To have someone who understand how firefighters think, it needed someone who thought like a firefighter and who had been in the trenches as a firefighter. This also stood true for a medical director who understands the needs of flexibility of care standards while still achieving success in preventing further injuries and reducing the mortality of the wildland firefighter.
However, what is unique to WFR is that as time has progressed, WFR has been asked by not just medical unit leaders, safety officers, and incident commanders for wildland fire agencies from all over the country to provide that care, but also movie and television production sets, sporting events, and other special situations. It stands as a testament to the professionalism, care, and desire to be the best in the business of providing high-quality, cost-effective, and efficient medical services in the US.