2016 Trinidad State News

Fire fighters enhance skills through Trinidad State EMS program

Valley Campus / April 27, 2016 / Written by Margaret Sanderson


Seventeen San Luis Valley fire fighters representing six different departments, plus two law enforcement officers are taking a full EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) class geared toward first responders. Fire departments participating come from Alamosa, Baca/Crestone, Capulin, Center, Monte Vista and South Fork. The Monte Vista Fire Department is hosting the class while the Center Fire Department is providing the use of extra equipment for instruction. The class is taught by fire fighters from a fire fighter point of view. “Most fire fighters respond to ambulance calls and often arrive at the scene of an accident prior to the arrival of EMTs,” said Jim Felmlee, assistant fire chief in Center. “After taking this class and passing the national registry to become state certified,” he continued, “they will be in a position to begin an assessment on victims before EMTs arrive on the scene - thus speeding the treatment process for the victims.”

This specialty class was made possible, in part, by Jon Montano, a Monte Vista fire fighter who is the coordinator for RETAC (Regional EMS and Trauma Advisory Committee). He wrote a CREATE (Colorado Resource for Emergency and Trauma Education) grant awarded by the Colorado Rural Health Center which RETAC received to help defray the cost of the class. Over 200 classroom hours are required with 36 additional clinical hours working directly with ambulance services or hospitals while making contact with a minimum of 15 patients.

Felmlee and Montano are the lead instructors with guest instructors assisting for some classes.

The youngest student and one of two females is 18 year-old Sargent High School senior, Ashliegh Watson who already serves on the Center ambulance and fire department. “I’ve grown up around all this stuff,” said Watson. Both of her parents are EMTs and volunteer fire fighters in Center. After completing the class and becoming certified, she will be qualified to assist on ambulance runs as an EMT which she plans to do this summer. She hopes that may lead to similar employment while she attends college at University of Northern Colorado (UNC) in Greeley and studies pre-med.

Deb Haverfield, who has been with Trinidad State over 20 years, continues to direct and coordinate the EMS program which also offers First Aid, CPR and continuing education classes for EMS recertification. Many have chosen to complete their recertification hours during the EMS Symposium which has been traditionally hosted at the Valley Campus in February. The EMS program just completed an EMT outreach class in Saguache and will be starting one in Creede this fall dependent on student interest. Outreach classes save students travel time and expense because the instructors come to them. CPR and First Aid classes are offered Valley wide. Eight students are required per class at a cost of $25 each. Classes are often taught for schools and other agencies.

For more information call Deb Haverfield at 719-589-7046.

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