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City firefighters Thursday launched a program designed to save the lives of those suffering heart attacks and severe respiratory problems.

The program, Assistant Chief Mark Devine said, brings emergency-room treatment to the homes of those in distress.

Firefighter Kevin Watier said he and 16 other city firefighters certified in critical care will be allowed to administer drugs designed to revive people in cardiac arrest or give medications to those suffering severe
respiratory breathing.

"We have the capability of doing emergency room procedures, but much sooner,"
Watier said.

Firefighter James Keleher said the critical-care certification is considered a step below a paramedic. He said currently, the department has two firefighters certified as paramedics.

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