W.Va. pilot program to train police officers as ambulance drivers
By Greg Jordan
Bluefield Daily Telegraph, W.Va.
TAZEWELL, Virginia – Rescue teams, fire departments and law enforcement are dispatched when an emergency is reported, but law enforcement is often the first on the scene. With that in mind, Tazewell County MPs are taking a course that will allow them to become certified as emergency medical technicians, better known as paramedics.
Members of the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office began taking the course on Saturday. These courses will continue until September.
“We’re really excited,” Sheriff Brian Hieatt said. “This is our first week of EMT training for our assistants.”
Hieatt said the classes started after Eastern District Supervisor Charlie Stacy approached him.
“We have great EMT services here in Tazewell County, but we thought we had assistants trained as EMTs to help with our overall EMS (Emergency Medical Service) that we have here in Tazewell County.” , Hieatt said.
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Some of the students in the class are patrol assistants who are often in different parts of the county. Other students are school resource officers who work in the local school system, Hieatt said. The training will enable assistants and school resource managers to respond to medical emergencies.
An assistant who works at the Tazewell County Courthouse also receives EMT training. The courthouse can hold up to 100 people at any one time, so the training will enable this officer to handle medical emergencies there, Hieatt added.
Members of Parliament can find themselves in situations where someone has been injured or has a medical emergency such as a heart attack.
“We have a great EMS and a great response,” Hieatt said. “But if an assistant can start helping someone and assessing someone while the rescue is in progress, it could help save someone’s life.”
Members of Parliament trained as paramedics will be an asset to the county, said Captain Randy Ann Davis, director of 911.
“They are the first responders anyway,” said Davis, adding that MPs will learn skills such as how to assess a patient, help control bleeding and open the airways. MPs will be assigned a trauma, or medical bag, to take with them once their training is complete.
Stacy said that participants who successfully complete the courses will be able to take the national EMT certification exam. The idea behind the courses began to germinate when the Rescue Squad in Bluefield, Va., Closed its doors.
“About three years ago, Tazewell County got into the rescue crew business when the Bluefield, Va., Rescue team collapsed,” Stacy recalls. “As a result, we created a new branch of government: Tazewell County EMS, which is our rescue team service. With that, obviously, we are now involved in a new form of service that we didn’t exactly have. ‘used to provide. “
The size of Tazewell County can sometimes make response times longer than providers would like, Stacy said.
“So the concept was that our sheriff’s assistants were already working and patrolling 24 hours a day. What if we trained some of our assistants to also be paramedics to help our first responders on those emergency medical calls? Stacy said.
For example, an assistant who is in Springville when an emergency occurs could be on the scene earlier than paramedics coming from Bluefield, Va., He said.
“The assistant would probably be able to reach the patient more quickly,” Stacy said. “And if an EMT with basic life support training can make it happen, then the outcome for the patient is dramatically improved.”
Stacy said the county is paying for the pilot program. While providing county residents with faster access to emergency care, training assistants to be paramedics will give them a way to work with the community that is not adversarial.
MPs and other attendees will benefit as well, Stacy said. Those who complete the course and earn their EMT certification will give them a raise in their salary. About six assistants and five school resource managers are currently participating in the program.
“The name of the game is to get the most skilled first responder to the side of patients as quickly as possible,” Stacy said.
(c) 2021 the Bluefield Daily Telegraph (Bluefield, W.Va.)