‘A great feat’: Terrace fire department undergoes fire-based medical training

·3 min read

Members of the Terrace Fire Department undertook training last week that will help them better serve the community and to work in tandem with paramedics.

“We already have an existing set of medical competencies and now we are introducing some new skills to enhance our existing set of skills,” said Jason Arsenault, City of Terrace firefighter.

From Feb. 1 to Feb. 5, members were joined by Firemedix instructor Derek Salisbury who schooled them in more advanced medical care.

The training is funded by the City of Terrace and elevates firefighters to the level of Emergency Medical Responder (EMR), able to practice pre-hospital medicine.

Salisbury is a career firefighter and paramedic with the City of Surrey. He saw a need for firefighters in B.C. to have more medical training so he created Firemedix, and has been teaching courses for 10 years.

“What we do is fire-based medical training so the EMR program, our emergency medical responder program, is a licence issued by the province to practice pre-hospital medicine,” he said.

“So what it does is it allows these guys to expand not only the patient assessment with blood pressures and pulse [oximeter] and glucometer, but it is designed to actually augment the current BC Ambulance patient model that they have in the province.”

Although the Terrace Fire Department does not have transport capabilities, part of the training is to help members understand patient transport better. To help, the BC Ambulance Service in Terrace loaned an ambulance to the department during the training sessions so members could get better acquainted with the equipment.

Not only will Terrace firefighters be able to better support paramedics on scene and help facilitate patient transfers, they will also be prepared to perform lifesaving interventions if they arrive at a scene before an ambulance.

The course also prepares firefighters to help each other if a member needs emergency assistance during a call, because the BC Ambulance service will not enter a “hot zone.”

“In programs until this one nobody’s ever addressed the firefighter saving the firefighter,” Salisbury said.

Following this training, the province will send examiners here to test and then certify firefighters. It’s less expensive than having to send firefighters south and once certified, firefighters can keep their certifications active from on the job contact with people they assist.

“It’s been a great feat for both Terrace and Rupert to accomplish this because they are literally the first fire departments to have made this happen,” Salisbury said.

“This program will ensure that guys will always be doing continuous learning, so continuing education credits is what they call it, so that requires more on-shift training, and more on-shift training focused on specific disciplines that we didn’t have before so I think the guys are pretty excited,” Arsenault said.

“You have to cross off so many check boxes every year in order to maintain the licence so it’s different in that way, it’s more challenging but clearly more rewarding too.”

Ben Bogstie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Interior News