Did you know that the Collierville Fire Department responds to an average of 70% medical calls and 30% fire-related emergencies? Persistent training and continued education is a way of life for firefighter personnel from learning advancements in life-saving equipment to renewing medical certifications. Out of the Collierville Fire Department’s 62 commissioned firefighters, there are 34 Paramedics and 28 Advanced Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT).
On April 5, 2017, an instructor from Benchmark Medical Services, Robert Welch, led an Emergency Vehicle Operators Course (EVOC) twice during the day to accommodate changing firefighter shifts. With over 30 years of experience as a Paramedic in Memphis, Welch not only knows the training material but lived it.
“The best piece of lifesaving equipment we have is our seatbelt,” said Welch.
He then told a story about his head going through a window in the back of an ambulance after the driver had to slam on the breaks.
“I was lucky to only come out of that with just a dislocated shoulder.”
The United States Fire Administration states that motor vehicle crashes are the second leading cause of death for on-duty firefighters (the leading cause of injury and death is overexertion.) A crash involving a firetruck not only puts the firefighters in a life-threatening situation, but impacts the community’s safety by having personnel and an equipped vehicle unable to respond to an emergency. The Emergency Vehicle Operators Course covered topics from the daily, tedious inspections of a firetruck to legal ramifications of being involved in a wreck.
To keep Paramedic and Advanced EMT medical accreditations current, there are state and federal regulations that require a specific amount of continuing educations hours met every 2 years. For example, the Tennessee Department of Health states to renew a Paramedic licensure, one must complete “32 continuing education hours approved by the EMS Board; 8 of the 32 hours must be in pediatric related topics.”
Lieutenant Pat McGrath oversees the EMS Quality Improvement Program at the Collierville Fire Department and works closely with their Medical Director, Dr. Joseph Holley, to meet and exceed training requirements for Collierville Fire personnel. They are always exploring new ideas and equipment to weigh the benefit for the safety of the Collierville community.
(Pictured: Robert Welch of Benchmark Medical Services is pictured at Collierville Fire Administration leading the Emergency Vehicle Operators Course to Collierville Fire personnel.)