The Fort Defiance Field Office encompassed the eastern south/central portion of the Navajo NAtion and provides service to a population of approximately 30,000 residents.
Fort Defiance is located six miles north of WIndow Rock, AZ, which is the capital of the Navajo Nation. These two towns and their surrounding communities make up the largest population center of the Navajo Nation.
The actual boundary of the reservation ends one mile east of Window Rock, AZ when traveling east on state route 264 to Gallup, NM.
Primarily Navajo people populate the "off reservation" are between Window Rock and Gallup,NM and services are provided as necessary to these residents.
The Fort Defiance Field Office extends to the north approximately 35 miles towards Whiskey Creek, NM, 20 miles to the east towards Blackhat, NM; 45 miles to the south towards Lupton, AZ; and to the west, ending at Mile Post 460 on State Route 264, where the responsibility for pre-hospital coverage becomes the responsibility of the Ganado Fire Department. The Ganado Fire Department and presently is an EMS response to the Ganado area.
Within the service unit are other communities with a few hundred residents each, St. Michaels, Sawmill, Navajo, Crystal and Lupton. Lupton, AZ is in the far southern portion of the service unit and is more accessible to EMS response units coming from Gallup and McKinley County agencies. As with the rest of the Navajo Nation, the Fort Defiance Office has many sites with one or two family dwellings located throughout the area, many in remote locations. Reaching these remote locations during an EMS response can take an extended time, even in good weather conditions.
This region of the Navajo Nation is higher in elevation that most of the nation, which contributes to more snow and colder temperatures in the winter, increasing response times and making EMS response in the winter a hazardous undertaking. FD EMS encompasses some of the more forested and mountainous areas of the Navajo Nation, having both "population centers" (relative to the Navajo Nation) and remote isolated communities.
During the summer months, there is a large influx of tourists into this area. Window Rock, site of the Navajo Tribal Fair in September of each year, attracts residents and tourists alike, and provides a setting for specialized EMS response that includes mobilizing "Special Assignment" EMT's from throughout the Nation
VEHICLES AND EQUIPMENT
The Fort Defiance Field Office has two unties that are "first line" response vehicles, which are both well-equipped at the BLS/ILS level with each unit having a defibrillator on board. The defibrillation units include on Zoll 1800 and one Hewlett Packard Defibrillator.
Fort Defiance Field Office is staffed by 4 EMT-Intermediates, 4 EMT-Basics, and 1 EMT-Basic Cert. and 1 Clerk position (also an EMT-Basic), and an acting supervisor. There is one member of the staff that is about to complete the Paramedic program in Albuquerque, NM at the University of New Mexico EMS Academy. Fort Defiance Field Office responds to an average of 150 tp 200 calls per months. EMT's work 12-hour shifts with two-person crew on duty at all times. Crews consist of one EMT-Intermediate and one EMT-Basic in most instances.
When off duty, all FD EMS staff are considered "on call" for backup assignments. Personnel notify FD EMS when leaving the area while off duty. Back-up EMS staffing is accessed through a paging system located in the hospital Emergency Department, and off duty EMT's carry pagers at all times. When called back after regularly scheduled shifts EMT's carry pagers at all times. When called back regularly scheduled shifts EMS's are compensated for their time.
DISPATCH AND COMMUNICATIONS
Dispatch is provided though Navajo Nation Police Dispatch (NNPD) from Window Rock. In this region of the Navajo Nation, there is a "basic" 911 system that services the more densely populated areas. NNPD dispatch personnel do not give pre-arrival constructions. Upon receipt of an EMS call, NNPD Dispatch will then contact the EMS Field Office at the hospital by telephone or via portable radios.
The Fort Defiance IHS Hospital relies on contract ambulance services for inter-facility transports. These contract services includes Guardian, which provides both ground and air transport services. American Native Transport provides ground transfer services, with both Eagle Air and Native American Air providing air transport services. Other non-contract services that are utilized include Med-Star Ambulance from Gallup, NM and Lifeguard Helicopter form the University of New Mexico.
Currently a new hospital has been built just north east of the old hospital off Route-12 near the New Mexico and Arizona border line. The Fort Defiance EMS personnel are excited to move into the new facility. The hospital is expected to open August 1, 2002.