- January 7, 2014
Like a restaurant opening the front door and finding an inspector ready to examine the kitchen, the dining room and all the health-and-safety paperwork, Longboat Key’s Fire-Rescue Department recently experienced the same kind of unannounced visit from the state.
And just like a successfully run restaurant, the town’s department came away from the December event with no deficiencies noted by the Florida Department of Health’s Bureau of Emergency Medical Oversight.
“Thank you for being a role model of excellence as an EMS provider in the state of Florida,’’ wrote EMS Administrator Michael Hall to Fire Chief Paul Dezzi.
It’s been about five years since the town’s fire-rescue department has been given an unannounced inspection of its vehicles, medical gear and record-keeping, a process interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"With this one, we were told they were coming into town,'' Dezzi said. "They were maybe in Manatee. They may be in Sarasota. And then we get a phone call in the morning, 'Oh, this is where I am. I'm on my way to see you guys.'''
The half-day inspection involved lots of record-examinations, along with looks at vehicles, machinery and qualifications of staff
But, Dezzi said, although the inspection itself was surprising, the results shouldn’t have been. At 8 a.m. every day, the department's four advanced life support vehicles undergo a lot of the same kinds of inspections performed by the state inspectors.
"You go through everything in the truck, from the lights to the siren to the pills and aspirin, making sure everything is in there and it's clean,'' Dezzi said. "So it takes the guys about 45 minutes to go through the whole truck.''
Dezzi added that the system, based on an electronic checklist of sorts, makes note of anything that needs attention and automatically alerts others in the department about the daily findings. The system, in use for the past four years, helps ensure nothing is forgotten or left off.
"It's the right thing to do,'' Dezzi said. "One good thing was, sometimes the inspector will find fault with something. And many times it is a minor thing. Sometimes it could be more than that, and they give you time to fix it, you know, but we didn't. We were thrilled to hear that.''
Dezzi said the state inspector was impressed with the system Longboat uses each morning to ensure its trucks and staff are ready to go.
"We showed him the document, and he was impressed with that, with the system we're using, which was good,'' Dezzi said.
While Longboat Key's department does answer a significant number of fire-alarm calls, actual fires are rare. Medical calls are far more prevalent, Dezzi said.
The Department of Health's inspection dealt with the emergency medical side of the department's operations.
Although Dezzi said he couldn't speak to the regularity of other departments receiving clean bills of health, he added that Longboat Key inspections — announced and otherwise — typically come out well.
"We have the best equipment that's out there,'' he said. "And in my opinion, we have the best men and women. So, I mean, when a person sees that the state came through and you get an exceptional rating on, they should feel confident that we're coming there with the knowledge and the equipment and the skills to handle any emergency that we face.''