Pleasant Grove firefighters graduate as paramedics

Deputy Fire Chief Dave Thomas on back left stands next to the most recent paramedic graduates. To his right are Britt Clark and Tad Raban, and to his left are Kevin Dickerson, Kyle Hardy, Scott Ash, Seth Drew, Matt Waldvogel. In front, left to right, are Mindi Dunkley, Ryan Rackman, Justin Whatcott, Tyler Nelson and Jake Larsen. Pleasant Grove Fire Department courtesy photo .

Pleasant Grove's Fire Department now has a team of full-time firefighters who are also paramedics -- also known as cross trained.

"Now, every rescuer on scene will have the same advanced level of training," said Deputy Fire Chief Dave Thomas.

Last month, 12 of the department's firefighters completed an 11-month training and participated in a graduation ceremony.

Previously, the department was dependent on part-time paramedics. According to Thomas, there is a large increase in the knowledge and skill level in paramedics, compared to basic emergency medical technicians, or EMTs.

"It was hours and hours of training," said firefighter/paramedic Jake Larsen, who is one of the recent graduates. Larsen, who has worked for the department for five years, was an EMT Intermediate before the paramedic course. There are three levels of EMT: basic, intermediate and paramedic.

The training included clinical hours in various departments of hospitals such as emergency rooms, operating rooms, labor and delivery and intensive care units.

The paramedics-in-training also completed fire rides with other fire departments, Larsen said.

Paramedics are trained to do more difficult and technical procedures, such as working with patients who have obstructed airways and using needle decompression on patients' chests, according to Larsen.

"This helps to fulfill the needs of the community," he said.

Much of the paramedic training took place in the Pleasant Grove Fire Station because the department had teamed up with Mount Nebo Training, a private emergency medical training company. The participants paid for the training themselves.

The training will not stop, Thomas said.

"With all of our full-time staff trained to the paramedic level, we will immediately begin advanced training for our paramedics in several areas," he said. "These areas will include almost every type of illness and injury we see."

According to Larsen, the Pleasant Grove paramedics work with a variety of medical emergencies, but some of the more common ones are respiratory problems, chest pains and possible heart distress and trauma associated with car accidents.

"Paramedic-level service is the highest level of pre-hospital care available in Utah and elsewhere in the United States," Thomas said.
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