Columbus firefighters volunteer to take medic training

By Laura Ann Sills - email

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Columbus Fire and EMS are taking steps to increase your chances of surviving a serious crash or cardiac arrest. 

Firefighters in Columbus can volunteer to take a paramedic training course to expand the level of care throughout the city.

Captain Nate Bater has been teaching EMS education for years and explained about the process of becoming a paramedic, "They take the same exam that a physician has to take in order to practice in the ER.  If we do not save the patient in the home or in route to the hospital, chances are, they are not going to be saved."

Captain Bater says 80% of the time a fire truck arrives on a scene before an ambulance.

With the merger of the Fire Department and EMS in Columbus, cross training has become even more important.  While all firefighters become trained as EMT's, some volunteer to go through an accelerated program of becoming a paramedic, meaning they can administer medication, use a cardiac monitor, and intubate the patient their trying to save.

Firefighter Kalen Dozier said, "You never stop learning with this job cause it is always something new and there is always a way to get better."

Dozier is in the current paramedic training and our cameras were rolling while he was tested in his skills at treating the heart of a critical patient.

Having just one paramedic on each truck in the city increases the survival rate significantly.  Captain Bater said he will not retire until that happens, "If we have somebody in cardiac arrest, it takes a team and the paramedic will be there to direct and give the technical advice and drugs."

Sgt. Jimmy Gentry thinks Columbus isn't far behind other fire departments that make it a requirement that everyone wear the paramedic patch, "I got 25 years left here.  I can get on the boat and do it on my own accord, or I can be forced to play catch up later."  Gentry could not get into the city's paramedic training, so he found a private class to take and said it is worth every penny and every minute.  "It makes me better at my job."

Thirty-seven firefighters in Columbus already have their paramedic patch, and 19 are currently going through the course.

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