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Students, the instructor and assistants posed for a group shot after a multi-casualty incident simulation. From left, front row kneeling: Stephanie Partlow, Ed Ward and Cheyanne Pacheco-Samii. From left, standing: Alice Berg, Joshua Saenz, Michael Orozco, Jesslyn Avalos, J.T. Bones, Nickolas Spanial, Darryl Maddelena, Tyler Stockdale, Andrea Meadors, Zachary Barclay, Cindy Petrini, Brad Dempster, Julie Cassou, Cody Ward, Dianne Buckhout, Jose Avalos, Luke Scott, Tiffany Manchip, Victor Simonsen and Jackson Harris. Photos by Tom Forster

Local EMT’s complete training

Alice Berg performs Triage on Dianne Buckhout, one of several victims with a simulated serious injury during an explosion. Assistant Instructor Cody Ward is evaluating.

Where do our EMTs come from? Twelve students recently completed a semester long Emergency Medical Technician course through Feather River College, taught by paramedic and FRC instructor Ed Ward, who also serves as the Graeagle Fire Chief. Fifteen students started the course, and twelve made it through to qualify for national testing. Students came from four Plumas County Fire Departments — Graeagle, Portola, Eastern Plumas Rural and Sierra Valley, along with other professions represented.

There are four levels of emergency medical training in the national emergency medical care system, not including those involving nurses, such as a Mobile Intensive Care Nurse. The typical minimum training level for first responders such as firefighters is called Emergency Medical Responder. An EMR starts lifesaving care with basic interventions and minimal equipment, according to the National Scope of EMS Practice Model from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Upon the arrival of anyone with a higher level of training, they take over primary care from the EMR.

The next level up is EMT-1, with about twice as many hours of training and education, and some time spent training in an ambulance and emergency room. The EMT-1 can work on an ambulance, and use and operate equipment in transport. The next step up is called Advanced Emergency Medical Technician. This person can provide both basic life support and some limited advanced care. The fourth level is the Paramedic, providing complex and advanced emergency medical care under the direction of a medical doctor, as is the case with all levels.

For this article, let’s focus on the EMT-1 level only. EMT’s provide basic care for the sick and injured, typically in the field. They may be volunteer, seasonal or full-time firefighters. Or, they might be employed by a provider of ambulance services or work in a hospital emergency setting, doctors’ office or health clinic. Sometimes they serve as other types of first responders, possibly including police officers, search and rescue team members, special event support, security, ski patrol or other roles.

The FRC course is one of several EMT training options for local first responders. Another is to take an independent class through a local Emergency Medical Services provider who is authorized to teach in our county, and there are several. Let’s take a closer look at the FRC course as a good example of the training.

The semester-long EMT program is over twice as long as an EMR program, preparing students to take the required final exam for the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians or NREMT. Students first complete the required education and training, including skills testing, 12 hours ambulance time and 12 hours hospital emergency room time. They then go to an approved testing provider in Reno for the NREMT written exam. A background check is also required, confirming the student does not have a state or federal criminal record that would disqualify them to serve in the role. This is also known as a “live scan.” Current certification in CPR/AED is required. Finally, some state and testing fees are paid, an application is submitted and then the certification is completed.

Jesslyn Avalos and Joshua Saenz administer aid to J.T. Bones with a simulated abdominal wound.

The certification is valid for two years, at which point the EMT needs to renew either through the NREMT system or locally through our regional EMS organization called Nor Cal EMS, based in Redding. The basic renewal requirements are to complete at least 24 hours of continuing education during those 24 months, signed off by a registered and approved provider of that training, along with skills testing, and of course submitting more fees.

Paramedic Ed Ward has taught several thousand students in various EMS topics over the years, and now serves as the lead instructor for the FRC program. This past December he received the perpetual Steve Tolen Leadership in Emergency Medical Services award from the Plumas County Fire Chiefs Association. “Steve was an important mentor, and it means a great deal to me to receive the award,” said Ed. “I really enjoy teaching through this program, following in Steve’s footsteps.”

The next offering of the EMT course through FRC will be in Quincy in the Fall 2017 semester, starting in August. Contact FRC for more information, or go online to frc.edu.

Now is a good time to consider becoming a volunteer firefighter in your community. Contact your local fire department for more information.

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