During the wildland season, roughly starting in May and lasting into the months of October and November, Upper Pine responds locally and nationally to wildland fires. Personnel and equipment can be resourced out nationally to wildland fires across the United States. As fires start in the United States they get reported to their local dispatch. The local dispatch unit then pulls from its list of localized resources to staff the fires. When all the resources from the area have been assigned and the list of available resources has been depleted, the local dispatch unit will order resources from their Geographic Area Coordination Center (GACC). The GACC services the Rocky Mountain Area and is based out of Lakewood, CO. When the GACC needs more resources, or if a Hot Shot crew is needed, they place resource orders with the National Interagency Coordination Center (NICC).
The NICC is a focal point for coordinating the mobilization of resources for wildland fire and other incidents throughout the United States. The NICC is located in Boise, Idaho.
When Durango dispatch calls Upper Pine with resource needs we accept or turn down assignments based on our availability and needs for our engines and staff. If we accept the assignment the resource order is filled per the request and the Upper Pine engine and personnel will assemble and report to the fires location. The crew will check in at the Incident Command Post (ICP) and be placed on the Incident Action Plan (IAP). Crews can be deployed for up to 21 days, excluding travel time, before they are required to return to their home unit and take two days off. The entire time salaries and the use of the equipment is being paid for by the fire, not the Fire District.
Upper Pine is a big supporter in the response to national wildfire needs. As a department we have a wide range of experience and equipment that is highly needed and requested when it comes to helping out other communities in desperate need. One day we may need the same assistance and our neighbors will be there to help us just as we do to their emergencies.
Because of the diverse geographical area in which we are located in, it can present a variety of emergencies, we conduct regular trainings for our firefighters in six technical rescue disciplines:
Upper Pine River’s Fire District covers significantly challenging terrain covering the Vallecito Creek Canyon which is a popular kayaking area rating as some of the most extreme whitewater in Colorado. A popular training area in the NW part of the district known as the Transfer Park has been the site of several rescues involving rock climbers. The district’s two large reservoirs Lemon and Vallecito have active water sports and boating. BackCountry rescue in partnership with LaPlata Search and Rescue in a common call and the Upper Pine routinely trains with this group of dedicated volunteers. The district borders the Weminuche Wilderness and National Forest Lands making extrication of injured people a common event.
Emergency Medical Service Systems (EMS) is integral to reacting and resolving emergency incidents in a community. The district’s EMS division has a robust operational presence in Southwest Colorado. This EMS division provides:
Upper Pine Fire River Fire Protection District is an Advanced Life Support (ALS) transport agency. The district operates a two tiered response system with a paramedic quick response vehicle and two transport ambulances staffed 24/7. On short notice, a third ambulance can be placed in service.
Ambulances with EMTs are strategically placed within the district and can be on scene providing immediate care and life saving interventions prior to the paramedic vehicle arriving. If the patient needs advanced life support the paramedic accompanies the ambulance to the hospital. If advanced life support is not required the EMTs attend to the patient. This results in lower cost and better utilization for the paramedic vehicle making it available for the next emergency. Approximately 60% of the calls are handled by EMTs with IV skills or EMT intermediates.
ALS ambulance operations require paramedics and EMTs with specialized training. EMS providers are nationally certified and are required to complete 72 hours of EMS continuing education every two years. The district partners with local colleges and the Children’s Hospital of Colorado to offer simulation training.
ALS ambulances offers specialized services such as:
Ambulance operations provide over $250,000 in revenue to the district. All full-time staff and 80% of the part-time firefighters are trained as Basic Emergency Medical Technicians and certified at the National level. The district has four part-time firefighter paramedics and the Chiefs are also paramedics. Ambulances are stationed in Bayfield, Forest Lakes and Vallecito. The district has a goal to have an ambulance on scene within 8 minutes or less in Bayfield, Forest Lakes, Vallecito and in 12 minutes or less in the remaining areas 80% of the time.
The district provides CPR training and injury prevention education. The district is state certified to provide continuing education for EMTs and First responders. The District personnel are involved in leadership roles in the Colorado State EMS Association, Regional Trauma Advisory Committee and the National Association of EMT’s, the National Association of EMS Educators, and the National Academies of Medicine.
The Fire District is the only fire based EMS organization in Colorado and the smallest in the country to have the accreditation from Commission of the Accreditation of Ambulance Services.
We are pleased to have the direction of Dr. Jon Vivolo take over the medical direction for Upper Pine!
Jon Vivolo was born and raised in Durango and currently practices as a board-certified emergency medicine physician at Mercy Regional Medical Center. He completed his undergraduate degrees in sports medicine and biomedical sciences at Colorado State University. During his time at CSU, he was a varsity athlete for the mountain bike team. He ultimately went on to win the National Mountain Bike Championship in 2009 and competed professionally. He completed his medical degree in Denver, at Rocky Vista University and residency training at the University of Kentucky as a chief resident.
He then went on to complete a fellowship in emergency ultrasonography at the University of Utah. His focus was transesophageal echocardiogram in ED ECMO cannulation in addition to ultrasound guided regional anesthesia. He also completed a second fellowship in genomics-based precision medicine focusing on chronic disease prevention and longevity.
He moved back to Durango about over a year ago and is happy to be back home. When he is not working, he’s usually spending time with his wife and 3 border collies, backcountry skiing, mountain biking, running, working on the ranch, or woodworking. He has a special interest in pre-hospital medicine and providing innovative, high-quality care to the local community. He is looking forward to working with all of you on the Upper Pine team.
In the later part of 2021 Dr. Vivolo was instrumental in getting Upper Pine’s protocols to deliver Monoclonal Antibody treatments in the home. The first few administrations Dr. Vivolo was available by telemedicine to ensure the patient outcomes and quality assurance mechanisms were in place and functioning.