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    Default Should Line Officers be an EMT?

    Should Line Officers be an EMT?

    Yes or No.. Please explain.

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    Depends on the situation.

    Here it wouldn't really matter if the line officer was an EMT, Paramedic, Nurse, or Doctor. We don't run EMS.

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    Dont think it should matter as a requirement. We don't do EMS as a 1st response also. However, the only req. that the person get help. If the CO was a EMT and the highest he would need to worry about PT care and not his job of scene management.
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    Here it matters. We run first response and first response ALS at some companies. So to effectively run a scene it is important that our company officers have medical training.

    All FF's are required to have an EMT certification at hire, and since 1999 they are required to maintain at least an EMT-B throughout their employment with the Fire Department.

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    At work, it's not an issue. Being an EMT is mandatory for employment, from the chief to the probie.

    At the VFD, it's not a requirement either. Of the 5 line officers, 2 are EMT's, 1 is a paramedic, and the other two aren't either. We do BLS first responder, but a fire officer doesn't need to be an EMT to manage an EMS scene. The EMT's treat the patient, the fire officer (if present) handles everything else.
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    At my paid job (industrial) EMT-B is required. All shift personnel, including the Incident Commander, maintain EMT-B certification. Most of the day staff do as well.

    In my VFD, all medical certifications are voluntary. We figure, we're not going to lose a potential good firefighter over not wanting to do medical stuff (most do, however). Most of the department are First Responders, with a handful of EMT-B's and one paramedic. Officers are not required to be First Responders (although all of the current ones are).
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    I don't see why having an emt cert should matter unless your dept requires everyone to have one. The only officer posistion I would see requiring it would be like an EMS officer.

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    I think it is a benefit for all line officers to be at least an EMT-B, and have a minimum of EMS equipment on pumpers.

    Fire scenes are dangerous. Injuries from debris happens. Roofs collapse. Smoke inhalation happens. If it happens to me I'd want to know that there is someone on the outside that can provide me with at least limited care.

    Yeah, I think line officers should be EMTs.

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    My FD doesn't require chief officers, company officers or firefighters to be EMTs. By Massachusetts state law, all firefighters must be trained to the first responder level.

    We do have a financial incentive to become an EMT: 7% of the rank's base salary, which is also figured into our overtime and pensions.
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    I think that the officer being an EMT is only necessary if the cert is required of all firefighters. My dept does BLS and only 6-7 guys ride the EMS car. All it does is beat up those that choose to do EMS too. When the car was put in service our area was serviced be a volunteer ambulances. Now there are a paid staff then works for the town. Our EMS car is now only dispatched on high priority calls. We now run more Fire than EMS.

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    If your department runs EMS, volunteer,combo or paid it's very simple... yes.

    A line officer is a supervisor .... you can't supervise an EMS scene unless you have at least mid-level EMS training, which is an EMT.

    I guess in theory, in a volunteer situation, you could have a non-EMS cetified officer, who, in that case, could be prohibited from responding on EMS runs, just like non-EMS firefighters should be prohibited from responding. But what if he is the only officer in town, or very close to the call ? Then you have a untrained person (in legal terms especially) running a scene he is not technically qualified to run. Sounds like legal problems to me if a patient care lawsuit arises.

    To be a senior firefighter or an officer on my department, you must have an EMS certification, preferably EMT. To be a firefighter to run on an EMS call, you must have a medical cert. 85% of what we do is EMS so it just makes sense.

    In my 2nd department a long, long time ago, we ran EMS first response. If a EMS trained firefighter showed up on the scene with a non-EMS officer, the firefighter was now command, not the officer, be it a LT., Captain or Chief.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 03-30-2008 at 10:34 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by frfghtrjosh View Post
    Should Line Officers be an EMT?

    Yes or No.. Please explain.
    Why do you ask? I think they should have training as a FR or EMT but it differs with dept some. Our dept requires all members are basic or above.

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    FireEducator,

    Why do you feel like an EMT has to run an EMS scene? For example, an MVA that requires patient care. While the EMS providers handle the patient care, the IC (who may or may not be an EMT) can coordinate the other issues at hand, such as extrication, hazard mitigation, traffic control, and the like.

    In our VFD, non-EMS personnel do not respond to EMS incidents unless an EMS provider is already on scene. Since that is the case, the line officer, even if not an EMT, and handle the scene, while the EMT continues to give the patient care that has already been initiated.

    Keep in mind that what might work for your area might not be as applicable in other areas.
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    I don't know what's right for your dept. But I'll tell you about mine.

    All FT hires are at least EMT-B and must become EMT-I or medics within 1 year. This means all FT employees are EMT-I or above. An officer is expected to maintain his EMS license level until he makes A/C, then its still strongly urged. As an EMT-I supervisor, I have a better handle on how my crew makes decisions. I'm not there on EMS calls 95% of the time (thank god), but during the 5% or after runs, you can see how your people think when their given the responsibility to make important decisions under stress. Not to mention QA issues and having a clue when the newbie tells us we have to buy the newest EMS widget!

    So, while I maintain my EMT-I license, I don't think it's vital, but I do think it has merit. I'm also a little more helpful on EMS runs where we're backing up the ambo for unconscious or codes. I've started IV's, sunk a ET and defibbed plenty of times, even though most of the time I just hold the radio and look pretty.

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    Guess I better throw my two cents in since it is my post..

    1) Saftey - Officers are the leader when it comes to interior or even exterior attack on fire. If I get hurt has a member of the team I would like to know that the leader has some medical training. He/She could ask the right question to gain the right information for the BLS/ALS crew. Which is just the start of my recovery. Would an medically untrained officer know what to do / what to ask? What about injuries that happen on the fireground, wouldn't it be nice if an officer could asses and treat injuries before the ambulances arrival.


    2) First on scene - In my rural volley world most of the times chiefs are on scene first. I understand that they need to do the intial scene size-up and such but after it is done, if they can't provide medical care to the injured victims, what does he do? Can he recongize critical symptoms in order to give air medical a head start?

    Saftey = #1 ..

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    Based on the additional information in your post, having more EMS providers available would be beneficial, not just having the officers as EMT's.

    I would rather have the officer direct an EMT to my location to attend to my injuries, rather than have him/her try to attend to my injuries while having no one to relenquish command to.

    Officers are there to lead in times of crisis, not to be the hands-on guys. And yes, I come from a rural area too, I know resources can be stretched thin, but I'm looking at the big picture.

    I would hope that anyone with any time in the fire service, especially someone who's qualified to be an officer, can recognize when it's the right time to summon an air ambulance.
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    Quote Originally Posted by frfghtrjosh View Post
    Guess I better throw my two cents in since it is my post..

    1) Saftey - Officers are the leader when it comes to interior or even exterior attack on fire. If I get hurt has a member of the team I would like to know that the leader has some medical training. He/She could ask the right question to gain the right information for the BLS/ALS crew. Which is just the start of my recovery. Would an medically untrained officer know what to do / what to ask? What about injuries that happen on the fireground, wouldn't it be nice if an officer could asses and treat injuries before the ambulances arrival.


    2) First on scene - In my rural volley world most of the times chiefs are on scene first. I understand that they need to do the intial scene size-up and such but after it is done, if they can't provide medical care to the injured victims, what does he do? Can he recongize critical symptoms in order to give air medical a head start?

    Saftey = #1 ..
    You obviously have not been around the fire service very long. The "leader" doesn't have to be the one treating anyone, in fact he should NOT be treating - he would just see that it got done. The only possible exception would be if every other member on the scene was gravely injured and he was the only person to render aid until additional help arrived.

    Bottom line is this: I don't need an EMT card to know when someone is F'ed up and needs a helicopter, or BLS, or ALS care. I don't need an EMT card to know how to open an airway, stop bleeding, or prevent shock. Hell I don't even need an EMT card to start a line. All I need is the knowledge and the practice. State certified EMT is nothing more than another way for the state to generate revenue and justify some pencil pushing schmucks job.

    You don't need any of this however to be an effective IC - I mean "leader."
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    IMO, in order to be a competant leader, you should be fully qualified to perform any and all tasks required of those you lead- for example, you should be fully qualified and experienced in Engine, Truck or Rescue Company operations. You should be fully qualifed to operate (any and all) pieces of apparatus to which you may be assigned as company commander- I was involved in a situation one time as the driver/operator of a piece of apparatus under a "Company Officer" (I use quotes as to this day I am firm in my belief that the fool had no business being an officer.....) that wanted me to do something that the piece was not capable of doing- had I done as he asked, it would have resulted in severe damage. I refused, and he attempted to bring me up on charges after the fact. Charges were dropped when cooler heads (who also knew what he wanted done would have resulted in damage) prevailed. Had he been a qualified Driver/Operator, he would have known, and never would have pulled that stunt.

    Same thing goes for the EMT- if it is a requirement of the company to perform EMS responses, then yes, the officer should be required to have the cert.
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    Why do you feel like an EMT has to run an EMS scene? For example, an MVA that requires patient care. While the EMS providers handle the patient care, the IC (who may or may not be an EMT) can coordinate the other issues at hand, such as extrication, hazard mitigation, traffic control, and the like

    In our department, we do not classify MVAs as an EMS call, It's a response that has a EMS component, but as you mentioned also has a fire component, extrication component and the like. MVAs get a full response of both EMS and non-EMS volunteer personnel.

    Command at MVAs does not necessarliy need to be an EMS certified officer, but is certainly is helpful.

    However, at an MVA we do often assign one of our officers to oversee patient care if the parish EMS service shift supervisor is unable to respond. That person, IMO, must have an EMS certification of at least EMT to do his job effectivly.

    At regular 'ole EMS calls the IC should definatly be an EMS cerifierd officer or senior man. Not only should the IC have the skills and the legal authority to perform those skills (certification) to be able to step in and assist if needed, somehow the response of "Well, I was just the IC and have no real medical training" to the question of "So as IC, why didn't you stop the potentially harmful actions of the care providers?" wouldn't sit to well in a courtroom.

    As I see it, no diffrence in that you wouldn't put a Awareness trained IC in charge of haz-may incident or a minimully trained officer in charge of a technical rescue operatiion.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 03-30-2008 at 03:59 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    IMO, in order to be a competant leader, you should be fully qualified to perform any and all tasks required of those you lead- for example, you should be fully qualified and experienced in Engine, Truck or Rescue Company operations. You should be fully qualifed to operate (any and all) pieces of apparatus to which you may be assigned as company commander- I was involved in a situation one time as the driver/operator of a piece of apparatus under a "Company Officer" (I use quotes as to this day I am firm in my belief that the fool had no business being an officer.....) that wanted me to do something that the piece was not capable of doing- had I done as he asked, it would have resulted in severe damage. I refused, and he attempted to bring me up on charges after the fact. Charges were dropped when cooler heads (who also knew what he wanted done would have resulted in damage) prevailed. Had he been a qualified Driver/Operator, he would have known, and never would have pulled that stunt.
    Although I agree that Officers should be qualified on the apparatus that they are riding, I am not so sure that you can apply this logic to everything. One of two things were wrong here: Either he thought because he was an officer he knew everything and was always right OR he had an equal amount of faith in you.

    As an officer, I am smart enough to know when people have more knowledge or expertise in an area than I and make decisions based on their judgment or assessment of the situation. You can't be an expert in everything and you have to have faith in the abilities of the people under you.

    Same as being an EMT or not. I am often the IC over medical scenes that involve ALS care. I am not a paramedic. The paramedic has rule and responsibility over the patient, but I am still in charge of the overall scene.
    Last edited by MemphisE34a; 03-30-2008 at 04:52 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by frfghtrjosh View Post
    Should Line Officers be an EMT?

    Yes or No.. Please explain.
    Not necessary IF the officer has faith in his EMS crew.

    The simple truth is the Incident Commander remains the Incident Commander and must count on those with technical skills to guide them in incidents that require those skills. Our Chiefs are not Haz-mat techs or technical rescue people yet they remain incident commander. They count on a specialist in the area of specialization to run the hands on part and to advise the chief of needs, progress or lack their of.

    On my career job the ALS crew does patient assessment and the BLS crew assists as needed. Generally the company officer startswriting the report and is not directly inviolved in patient care.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MemphisE34a View Post
    Same as being an EMT or not. I am often the IC over medical scenes that involve ALS care. I am not a paramedic. The paramedic has rule and responsibility over the patient, but I am still in charge of the overall scene.
    Ditto. Every day at work, I oversee guys doing ALS care, and have to trust that the training they've received is allowing them to properly give the care needed.

    LaFireEducator, your opinion on this?

    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator
    As I see it, no diffrence in that you wouldn't put a Awareness trained IC in charge of haz-may incident or a minimully trained officer in charge of a technical rescue operatiion.
    Our volly county doesn't have HazMat or Tech Rescue resources to mitigate incidents like these. We'll rely on the advice of the responding regional teams. Although we have "command" because it's in our jurisdiction, we'll still follow the expert's advice. At that point, someone lesser trained might be capable of handling the incident with professional advice.
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    I think part of that answer is the sequence of arrival.

    If your engine arrives ahead of the ambulance as a first-responder, anf the firefighters are trained to EMT level, IMO the officer needs to be at the same level to effectivly supervise the patient care operation.

    If the ALS ambo arrives with the engine, then EMT is sufficiant to supervise the overall operation.

    I simply don't see anyway that an officer with no EMS training can oversee an EMS scene, both on a practical level, and probably more impotantly, on a legal level.

    If it's a volunteer operation and they are only trained to the Firest responder level, then any responding officers need to be trained to that level as well. If the officer has no EMS training he simply does not belong on the scene.

    If your department, paid, combo or volunteer has made a decision to provide EMS, the commitment needs to extend to your officers as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    I think part of that answer is the sequence of arrival.

    If your engine arrives ahead of the ambulance as a first-responder, anf the firefighters are trained to EMT level, IMO the officer needs to be at the same level to effectivly supervise the patient care operation.

    If the ALS ambo arrives with the engine, then EMT is sufficiant to supervise the overall operation.
    We're providing ALS off the engine (or truck) prior to arrival of the ALS ambulance, when the need is warranted.

    When I give up my chiefdom, my predecessor is an outstanding person and outstanding fire officer that will excel in his role. However, he doesn't have his EMT. His two daughter's activities don't allow him 3 months to devote to the class. However, he still responds with us on EMS calls when he's available, and is quite capable of handling command on the EMS runs. It's more about the person's capabilities, than a stedfast rule, IMHO.

    I suppose we'll have to agree to disagree....
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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    IMO, in order to be a competant leader, you should be fully qualified to perform any and all tasks required of those you lead- for example, you should be fully qualified and experienced in Engine, Truck or Rescue Company operations. You should be fully qualifed to operate (any and all) pieces of apparatus to which you may be assigned as company commander-
    So, FWD have you ever seen a Chief officer come to power that had jumped ranks? It happens... Does it matter? who knows... If you surround yourself with competent people and allow them to do THEIR job and not be micro managed then I don't see a need to be better trained in EMS. Like I said earlier but lets go further if you were the CO and the only paramedic then wouldn't you have to be in charge of PT care? OK who is then responsible for the scene?
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