DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla. (WMBB) DeFuniak Springs firefighters will soon be providing more lifesaving services to citizens.

They’re adding Advanced Life Support Services to their bag of tools. It’s the first time they’ve been able to do this in the department’s 100-year history.

Advanced Life Support Services is the trend for fire departments across the United States.

DeFuniak Springs Fire Chief Ross Sheffield said it makes perfect sense.

“Around 70 percent of our calls are medically related and that’s a majority of our calls and we got to make sure we are proactive and make sure we can provide the best service to our citizens,” Sheffield said.

Sheffield believes it’s important for firefighters to be able to perform both basic and advanced lifesaving interventions, especially if they arrive at the scene first.

They have never been authorized for that work before.

“The patient calls and dials 911 and we show up and we can’t do anything,” Sheffield said. “The patients just sit there and they are suffering. And by us providing this service right here, we can actually assess that patient and treat that patient prior to the ambulance arriving on scene.”

Sheffield hopes firefighters will now be able to save more lives

“Like a patient that has asthhma, all we can do when we get there, all we can do is give them oxygen but what they need is a medicine that will open up their airway a little bit more so they can get more oxygen into the lungs. By doing this, Advanced Life Support Services, we can actually give them a medicine now that would open up their lungs so they can get more air,” Sheffield said.

All of the firefighters have EMT and paramedic training and are ready to implement the Advanced Life Support Services.

“Basically the fire department is trying to provide the best service for our citizens,” Sheffield said.

Sheffield hopes to begin offering Advanced Life Support Services in October.