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Korean fire stations to get advanced ambulances

The government will place at least one ambulance with advanced equipment at each fire station in the country to provide quicker treatment for emergency patients, officials said Tuesday.

The Ministry of Public Safety and Security said it would provide special ambulances that are equipped with 12 emergency medical devices to 205 fire stations. In these ambulances, medical staff will be able to conduct emergency treatments, such as intubation or heart-stimulating drug injections, which are difficult to carry out in general ambulances.

The special ambulances, however, require staff with emergency expertise, such as Grade-I emergency medical technicians or nurses, the authorities said.

“As professional emergency treatments will be permitted in special ambulances before arriving at the hospital, it will likely raise the revival rate of emergency patients in critical condition,” the ministry’s officials said.

This is part of the ministry’s move to improve emergency rescue measures.

Korea is known to have a higher mortality rate for patients with treatable injuries, the ministry said.

As of 2010, the death rate from treatable injuries for the country’s top 20 emergency centers recorded 35.2 percent. This is nearly double the rates of major developed countries such as the U.S., Japan and Germany, it added.

Along with introducing special ambulances, the government said it would standardize ambulance provision. Currently, about 1,300 ambulances in the country run differing models according to local authority rules.

It also vowed to offer psychological counseling at 30 stations to better support firefighters, who commonly become exposed to stress in disaster situations.

The program will consist of mental health checkups, private counseling and comprehensive classes, officials said.

The program was first introduced last year at 19 stations for some 4,700 firefighters.

By Lee Hyun-jeong (rene@heraldcorp.com)

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