A group of fire fighters and volunteers drove a fleet of fire trucks and ambulances in the 65th Armed Forces Day parade. Parade goers gave a thumbs-up, with waves of approval as they drove by.
“We rely heavily on volunteers in every portion of our acting county fire stations. Being a rural area, the funding dictates just a few paid staff members – in fact, out of 26 EMT’s (Emergency Medical Technicians) only five are full time employees, so there is a crucial need to keep our volunteer staffing properly trained and updated.” TC Knight, Chief of the Mineral County Fire Department explained that the actual EMT training requirements have four basic levels.
“To drive the ambulance, there is a basic driver’s certification required. This level also addresses basic first aid; CPR; basic ambulance knowledge in properly accessing and driving a specialized vehicle; use of lights and siren; plus weight and obstacle safety.” Knight continued to explain that phase two involved the actual EMT certifications – with background checks and a physical; also included are state certifications for driver use; an Emergency Medical Tech Certification; 160 hours of class/training which includes hospital exposure and emergency procedures; ambulance care and the National Certificate Training, which shows that one has been state certified as an EMT.
A third level is called “Advanced EMT”, which trains in life-saving techniques, allows for administration of IV’s and proper prescription items plus certification to perform advanced airway procedures.
The last fourth level would include all the continuing education necessary to keep one’s certification updated.
“If there was another phase, it would involve moving up into paramedic standards, which Mineral County doesn’t offer. The smaller, rural counties cannot realistically utilize, nor pay for this standard of response. In more metropolitan areas, it is vital that they function in that manner, but we have to operate in a more standardized method that is realistic for us. When our restrictive budget supports five paid fire fighters, and we are working with an aging fleet of equipment, it is imperative that we work smart and use every option available to us.”
In reviewing the fire truck driver designations, Knight confirmed that extra training is provided. “There is a special DMV licensing required, then training in pumping and various equipment standards are reviewed, along with safety and security issues being constantly maintained.” Most volunteers begin in “engineer” status. These volunteers are dealing with the hoses and hydrants.
Knight praised the volunteers and the fundraising abilities he sees from each fire department, within their own communities. “Our other department heads are out there doing their part and organizing involvement. Walker Lake has monthly breakfasts, Hawthorne hosts the Fireman’s Ball and Mina’s Poker Run is coming up. These extra funds help pay for fixing equipment, training our volunteers and updating equipment as needed. County-wide we are striving to bring each location up to a standardize level.”
Knight encouraged anyone that wishes to serve their community in a special way, please contact the local fire station. “There are many areas in which volunteers can make a huge difference toward the local needs of their fire station and for the staff.”