Hundreds of firefighters and their families from across the state will soon be arriving in Tahlequah for the 129th annual Oklahoma State Firefighters Association Convention. "It's a combined effort with the Tulsa Fire Department to put the convention on in Tahlequah," said Tahlequah Fire Chief Casey Baker. "We're helping to host the convention in Tahlequah."
Established as the Territorial Firemens Association of Oklahoma in 1894, the purpose of the OSFA, in part, is to create, maintain, and perpetuate a fraternal spirit among its members; to suggest helpful legislation; to educate its membership; and to enhance the value and dignity of their profession, according to the OSFA website. The OSFA has more than 15,000 members representing union and nonunion paid firefighters, volunteer firefighters, chief officers, and retired firefighters. The organization's legislative achievements date back to 1908.
Scheduled to take place June 5-10, the convention's meetings and banquet will be held at the Chota Center at the Cherokee Nation Casino. "This will be the third time the convention will take place in Tahlequah," said Baker. "The first time was in 1992, under Chief Bob Adrian; the second time was in 2009, under Chief Ray Hammons. This is the first time it has been a joint effort with Tulsa."
During the convention, firefighters will get the chance to hear from guests speakers and receive various reports from state agencies, OSFA committee reports, and OSFA officer reports. The OSFA Board will be presenting various awards, such as the Shey P. Francis Award, Department/Unit Citation, Meritorious Service Award, Medal of Valor, First in Last Out, David Bain Award, and 100-year membership awards. In 2019, the Tahlequah Fire Department received its 100-year membership award. "We've been members since 1919," said Baker.
Following the special presentations and recognitions, OSFA Executive Director Mike Kelley will be presenting the Pete and Lela Stavros Scholarship. A permanent endowment fund established at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, the $2,000 scholarship is awarded to graduating Oklahoma high school seniors who are children and relatives of Oklahoma firefighters who are active or retired members of the OSFA. Along with the regular business of the convention, firefighters will also get to participate in group activities, such as a fishing tournament on Lake Tenkiller, a golf tournament at Cherokee Springs Golf Course, a float excursion on the Illinois River followed by a picnic at Riverbend Floats, and a Poker Run Pub Crawl that will take place a various downtown locations.
There will also be an OSFA Women's Auxiliary Luau at Burnt Cabin Marina, as well as a Women's Welcome given by the OSFAWA President Kendra Engle.
An ISO fire score rating is determined based on how well a local fire department can protect their community. Some Insurance companies use the score to help set property insurance rates, as a home or business that is less likely to be severely damaged or destroyed by fire costs less to insure. The Class 1 rating, which is the highest possible rating, validates that the City of Norman Fire Department provides residents, visitors, and businesses with industry-leading fire protection services.
"I'm incredibly proud of our Fire Department for joining this elite group of fire departments in the U.S.," said City Manager Darrel Pyle. "Our firefighters and city staff work tirelessly to keep our residents, businesses, and visitors safe."
This accomplishment was a team effort that included the City of Norman Fire Department, Dispatch Center, Public Works Department, and Utilities Department, and with community support through Public Safety Sales Tax funding for fire equipment and apparatus.
"The Norman Fire Department staff has worked tirelessly over the last four years on this project, which was made possible by the Public Safety Sales Tax. Our apparatus replacement program over the last three years made a big impact in this audit. It is truly incredible that we were able to significantly better our rating without adding any new fire stations since the last audit, and I believe this is one of the biggest accomplishments in NFD history," said Fire Chief Travis King. "We are hopeful this will have a substantial positive impact on insurance rates for the residents and business owners of Norman. I want to thank the Council and the Community for supporting the PSST. City Manager Pyle supported our efforts and was a big help getting us across the finish line. PSST is not just a tax. It's an investment that will be paying dividends to the community."
ISO is an independent organization that evaluates fire-protection efforts in communities across the country. The organization collects information on communities and analyzes the data using its Fire Suppression Rating Schedule. This Fire Suppression Rating Schedule evaluates four primary categories of fire suppression – fire department, emergency communications, water supply, and community risk reduction. Fire services are ranked between 1 and 10.
The Class 1 ISO rating will rank the City of Norman Fire Department as one of only 388 Fire Departments in the U.S. that are both accredited and have an ISO Class 1 rating.
The Norman Fire Department, in conjunction with the Norman Police Department, OU Police Department, and the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office, held the 47th Annual Chili Supper Benefit on Thursday, January 26, 2023.
The benefit supper will be drive-thru only again at 111 N. Berry Road, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. or while supplies last. All meals were 20 or 32-ounce, to-go portions were delivered to individual vehicles for $10 and $15, respectively. An increased amount of chili will be available at this year's event.
All proceeds from the event went to the Cleveland County Christmas Store, a local non-profit that allows low-income families to shop for food, toys, and household goods each holiday season creating a more meaningful Christmas for their families.
The Norman Fire Department’s medical first responders are now certified for, and will begin to provide, advanced level of emergency care, in addition to the basic level medical care currently provided. The new increased level of emergency care will begin Thursday.
“Since we are often first on the scene in a medical emergency, we are very grateful for the support of our community that allows us to provide a higher level of care in those serious or life-threatening situations in which every minute matters,” said Interim Fire Chief Jim Bailey. Bailey said the fire department responds to approximately 8700 calls for medical assistance each year, which is 69% of the total calls for service received by the department.
Emergency medical technician (EMT) personnel follow written protocols as set by the medical director, Dr. Patrick Cody. “Moving to fire engines with personnel capable of advanced level medical care means that Norman, like many other cities, recognizes the importance of providing the best care possible to its residents. It will build upon a system that we have always been proud of by decreasing the amount of time our residents have to wait for advanced level medical interventions,” said Dr. Cody.
Cody, a board certified emergency medicine physician with the Norman Regional Health System, provides oversight in all aspects of the policy and procedures for emergency care provided by the Norman Fire Department and works closely with the personnel to assure quality patient care.
Fifteen of the department’s personnel have recently received advanced EMT training to provide the higher level of emergency care, which includes advanced paramedic level assessment, advanced airway management (intubation), venous access (establishing an IV), EKGs and defibrillation.
They will also administer some medications such as aspirin for heart attacks, epi-pens, and medication to stabilize diabetic patients.
In total 29 personnel will be available to perform at the advanced level. Thirteen more will be added in the next few months.
The new advanced medical protocols will improve patient status before arrival of the ambulance personnel or admission to the hospital. This advanced level of treatment can result in improved patient outcomes and shorter hospital stays.
Currently the Norman Fire Department responds to all medical calls in the city, operating at the EMT level to provide care such as first aid and administration of oxygen. The department can now provide life-saving support until ambulance personnel arrive. Ten fire trucks are equipped with medications, intravenous and airway equipment, and breathing tubes.
Norman’s emergency medical service – EMSStat – reported higher than national average survival rates for patients experiencing cardiac arrest.
According to a 2011 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, the overall survival to hospital discharge rate for cardiac arrest was 9.6 out of a nationwide sample of health centers. EMSStat reported an overall survival to hospital discharge rate of 20 percent, said Eddie Sims, EMSStat manager and paramedic. EMSStat is owned and operated by Norman Regional Health System. “EMSStat and the city of Norman have a history of excellent care, but the last four years have been outstanding,” Sims said. “Norman is comparable to the best places in the nation.”
One of the most accurate ways to determine an emergency service’s success is to also look at data for survival to hospital discharge rate for witnessed cardiac arrests with an initial shockable rhythm. This means a bystander saw a person collapse, and that a life-saving device such as a defibrillator or an AED could be used. The nationwide data for this type of arrest reports a survival to hospital discharge rate of 30.1 percent. EMSStat reported a 61 percent survival to hospital discharge rate for witnessed arrests with an initial shock able rhythm.
Sims said the fast and expert care at Norman Regional facilities helps increase these survival rates. Norman Regional Health System employs special procedure, called a ‘Code STEMI’, to get patients the treatment they need quickly. In fact, Norman Regional has met the national standard of door to percutaneous coronary intervention (treatment) time of 90 minutes for 100 percent of all qualifying patients in 2011-2012, said Donna Avila RN, Cardiovascular Imaging Manager. “Time is tissue, and establishing revascularization of coronary arteries in the 90 minute window or less can be a significant component in a patient’s survival rate,” Avila said. “The raw numbers of patient survival rates is amazing and contributes to the overall pride in being a part of this community and health system.”
Sims also credits the way Norman’s public safety and medical professionals work together to EMSStat’s success in the field. “The reason our rates are so good is Norman has a very cohesive system,” Sims said. “All public safety, from fire to police to dispatch, all work together, train together and are on the same page.”
Time is everything for cardiac arrest patients. Their heart has literally stopped. Sims said the survival rate goes down 10 percent for every minute a person doesn’t receive CPR. “Fire and police get to the scene early and stop the clock and buy time,” Sims said.
Sims said the key to helping someone with a cardiac episode is to call 9-1-1 when having chest pain. Taking a CPR class is also a good thing. “Dispatchers are trained to give CPR instructions over the phone too,” Sims said. “Just push hard and push fast.”