■ By Mike Hiles / Contributed
The Soboba Fire Department, under the authority of the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians, started operations at the Soboba Reservation in 2014. It has consistently continued to add training, personnel and services to meet the needs of the community. Most recently it has implemented a complete Advanced Life Support (ALS) First Responder program.
The first step was to fill three firefighter paramedic positions and three firefighter EMTs (emergency medical technicians) which was done in April of 2018. The program was approved by Riverside County in August on a probationary status, contingent on obtaining clearance to order pain medications. That lengthy paperwork process, meeting all parameters set forth by REMSA (Riverside County Emergency Medical Services Agency), was approved on Jan. 10. The Soboba Fire Department is now a full-fledged 911 responding Advanced Life Support provider.
“This offers a significant, emergency medical service for the citizens and guests within and throughout the Soboba Reservation,” Interim Fire Chief Primo Reynoso said.
Another important addition has been the department’s purchase of six brand new Phillips HealthSmart AEDs. An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses the life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias of ventricular fibrillation and pulseless ventricular tachycardia, and is able to treat them through defibrillation, the application of electricity.
Fire Captain Roger Salmo, the recognized EMS Coordinator with REMSA, has implemented a training program and inspection plan scheduled to begin this month. All fire department personnel have firsthand knowledge on how to use the device.
“We will be incorporating AEDs that service both adults and pediatrics,” Reynoso explained. “They will be placed at the Tribal Administration building, Soboba Public Works, Soboba Tribal Preschool, Noli Indian School and the Soboba Sports Complex.”
Reynoso and the other 20 Soboba Fire Department employees are looking forward to the spring when construction of the new fire station is scheduled to be completed.
With a firefighting career that spans 30 years, Reynoso chose to work at Soboba as a way to give back to his community. He entered the industry fresh from the Marine Corps, working for the city of San Jacinto from 1989 to 1994. He retired from the City of Hemet in 2014 after 20 years of service. He then joined the Soboba Fire Department as a Fire Captain and was promoted to Fire Marshal in July 2018; he became interim Fire Chief last December.
“I was privileged to work as a professional firefighter and retire as a Fire Chief from the city of Hemet,” said Reynoso, who has lived in Hemet since 1984. “My family received a bountiful, quality of life from me being a professional firefighter and were blessed with raising our six sons in this valley.”
He said he was invited to look into the possibility of working for Soboba by tribal member Jacob Briones, one of the department’s Fire Apparatus Engineers.
“I was drawn to the opportunity to serve the citizens of Soboba, inspire their youth and pass along many years of experience onto our young firefighters,” said Reynoso, 58.
He said some highlights of his long career have been meeting Fire Captains Gary Lane and Art Deyo and Battalion Chiefs Bill Thompson and Jim Snodgrass of Hemet Fire.
“Accidents, disasters, incidents came and went,” Reynoso said. “We saved lives, we enlightened young minds and we made a difference for the better through our professionalism.”
He said he knows the same will hold true for his tenure at Soboba.
“Our endeavor as Soboba’s Fire Department is to fulfill the Mission Statement with the following words: to protect and serve our entire tribal community with a commitment to professionalism and performance excellence,” Reynoso said.