ROYAL AIR FORCE CROUGHTON, England --
Firefighters across the 501st Combat Support Wing trained to become certified emergency medical technicians during a six-week course at RAF Croughton, England.
U.K. firefighters were tested in a practical application of their knowledge and skills after attending over 280 hours of the U.S. National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians course. The primary mission of the course was to prepare the fire department to respond to medical emergencies, as EMTs assume the responsibility of operating the ambulances and transporting patients to medical facilities.
Jessica Stebbings, 422nd Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, has been a firefighter at RAF Croughton for four years and nine for the local department.
“I volunteered to do the course, because I have an interest in medicine,” she said. “It’s been very intense and a lot of information overload. It helps to have instructors who have had a lot of experience in the field, so they can also give us scenarios of when certain situations happened to them.”
The lead instructor, Andy Hughes, 423rd Civil Engineer Squadron training captain, shared his wealth of knowledge with his students, to prepare them to one day save a life.
“All the bases are going to be running ambulances, so we’ve got to bring up our medical standards to allow us to eventually transport off-site onto the British hospitals,” said Hughes. “The students put in a lot of effort. Once the nerves go and they get through stuff, I think they’ll see that they’ve really enjoyed it.”
Firefighters are trained in basic life-saving skills, but the course has allowed each individual to respond to a variety of medical emergencies with a greater depth of understanding. This was the second EMT course offered in the 501st CSW, with over 20 firefighters trained as certified EMTs.
“It was hard,” said Philip Neal, 422nd Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter driver operator, “We’re used to doing first aid, but this is taking it to that next level. It’s a lot more in-depth than we go into generally. Getting your head around the medical terminology, it’s quite difficult. I can take blood pressure, but I didn’t know what it meant before.” Neal has been a firefighter for about 15 years, dedicating five years at RAF Fairford.
The course has been a joint effort by the 501st CSW and the 48th Fighter Wing. The plan is to initially train fifty percent of the workforce to be EMT certified over the next few years.
“The goal is to provide the mission of basic life support emergency medical care at a higher level to all of our customers across the 501st.” said Marlon Smith, 422nd Civil Engineer Squadron fire emergency services assistance chief of operations and emergency medical service instructor. “From the moment of responding to the patient, we can provide a high level of care from the initial response and to the delivery to the hospital. We’re really excited for this opportunity. We’re glad the EMTs are coming back to the fire department. It’s a great mission set. Hopefully we continue to develop and build this pretty soon, across the Air Force and U.S. Air Forces in Europe you have EMTs in every fire department.”