BA emergency med services leader steps down
BY ZACK STOYCOFF World Staff Writer
Monday, January 28, 2013
1/28/13 at 10:28 AM
Broken Arrow: Read previous stories related to Broken Arrow and get contact information for Broken Arrow officials.
BROKEN ARROW - The Broken Arrow Fire Department served about 40,000 fewer people when Matthew Warren took over as its emergency medical services director in 1988.
It had two fewer fire stations, few full-time paramedics and only spotty paramedic service.
Warren stepped down from the part-time position this month after overseeing a dramatic expansion in the department's medical capabilities as the agency grew with a city that now has more than 100,000 residents.
He is credited with helping to develop and maintain the department's 24-hour advanced life support service, which now has a full staff of firefighters certified as paramedics.
"He's just done a great job," Fire Chief Jeff VanDolah said.
Warren said his full-time job as emergency director for Saint Francis Hospital South has left him too little time for the Fire Department's growing needs, adding that this is "just the right time" to step down.
VanDolah said the agency has since hired a new emergency medical services director.
The Fire Department's ambulance service began in 1973. Today, it is billed as the largest fire department in Oklahoma that is a city's sole ambulance provider and has full paramedic capabilities.
But in 1988, the department relied on emergency medical technicians, who are limited in the care they can provide patients, Warren said.
Even then, the department lacked the staff to offer 24-hour EMT service, he said.
"It was really hard there for a while," he said. "There for a long time people weren't being trained as EMTs and paramedics.
"I think the education that was available was also more limited (than today)."
By the end of Warren's term, the Fire Department had a staff of more than 130 and all firefighters were trained as paramedics.
Overseeing that training fell to Warren.
He also was charged with ordering the department's medicines, dealing with any problems that arose during medical runs and maintaining medical protocols, which include procedures for hospital transports.
"Protocols had to be set up in such a way that would direct where fire trucks would run during emergencies, considering the different capabilities of hospitals," Warren said. "EMS calls are a lot more frequent than fire calls."
Today, the Fire Department's average medical transport time is among the lowest in the area, he said.
"I'm very proud of that," he said.
By law, fire departments offering emergency medical services must have a physician on staff. Warren also filled that role for Broken Arrow.
He previously was the emergency director for the now-defunct Broken Arrow Medical Clinic and assumed the Fire Department position from that hospital's outgoing emergency director.
Zack Stoycoff 918-581-8486
Dr. Matt Warren with his Broken Arrow Fire Dept. helmet, during a break in his shift at the St. Francis South hospital emergency room in Tulsa. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World