In an effort to provide continued quality, life-saving service to the community, Pace Fire Department has bulked up its equipment list with two machines, capable of providing crucial information on scene during emergencies.

"It's a huge upgrade to services provided," Lieutenant Danny Murphy said. "A lot of the times, we'll beat the ambulance by a couple of minutes. A couple of minutes are a lot."

Pace firefighters respond to around 15 to 20 calls a day, making it the busiest fire department in Santa Rosa County, according to Murphy. Last year, they responded to more than 2,300 emergency calls, covering an estimated population of 64,000 residents.

Pace Fire Department acquired two Lifepak 15 monitors through a Florida state EMS matching-grant program. The total cost of the monitors is $64,000 with the State picking up 75 percent of the cost.

The monitor is essentially several medical devices combined in one portable package, according to Murphy. It serves as a cardiac monitor, which can take vitals and monitor pulse rate. The machine is capable of reading a victim's oxygen intake on scene. The byproducts of a fire can be dangerous, such as smoke and contaminates.

"A key point we were trying to get was CO2 content," Murphy said. "It can be fatal if you have large amounts that build up."

The device is equipped with the capability to send data directly to area hospitals from the scene of a fire, car accident or house call. That feature provides doctors with an opportunity to see a progression in health status, which is integral to properly diagnosing patients and treating accordingly, says Murphy.

The device also features upgraded features such as a 12-lead ECG, according to Murphy. It provides a better, overall view of the heart and how it is functioning.

"I'd compare it to a calculator in the 70s to a calculator today," Murphy said. "Where you could barely do fractions, now you can do graphs. It's a huge leap in technology."

Pace Fire has been using a pair of Lifepak 10 monitors, borrowed from Lifeguard Ambulance Services, the county's contracted EMS transport service. Murphy said the department was gracious for the allowed use of the monitors, but the department determined a need for its own gear.

"Ultimately, if they needed the equipment, we would have to downgrade our service to the community," Murphy said. "We have to be able to provide our own service."

The department became Advanced Life Support certified earlier this year, allowing trained paramedics on staff to use their advanced skills and knowledge in the field. Without the certification, the paramedics were restricted to providing only Basic Life Support. Murphy said Lifeguard Ambulance with instrumental in helping with the process.

"It's going to improve the response capabilities for the Pace Fire District," said Brad Baker, Santa Rosa County Emergency Coordinator. "It will certainly enhance our emergency capabilities in the area."

In addition to upgrading their equipment and training, Murphy said the department is expanding its presence in the public via social media. They have been utilizing their Facebook page to interact with the public, to keep the community aware of immediate dangers.