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Medical training for firefighters among recommendations

March 23, 2000|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

Members of the Washington County Emergency Services Council met Wednesday to discuss several sections of a Harrisonburg, Va., consultant's report involving the county's fire and rescue services.

Basic medical training requirements for fire departments, developing a countywide training facility for fire, ambulance and police departments and prefire planning were among the topics of discussion.

The 15-member Emergency Services Council consists of members of county fire and ambulance companies, the public and Washington County Commissioner Bert Iseminger.

The group's goal is to go through each conclusion in the original report and addendum from Carroll Buracker and Associates to make a final recommendation to the Washington County Commissioners for final approval.

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The council has been meeting weekly, giving the report an overview before prioritizing and discussing funding.

The report suggested that all fire department personnel be trained to first-responder level, which consists of CPR and other basic medical training.

Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue President Jay Grimes remarked that not all volunteers want to be cross-trained in fire and medical areas.

"It used to be people wanted to do it," he said. "Now it's somewhat of a challenge to find people."

The council agreed to "set a goal to encourage all fire departments' personnel be trained on the first-responder level."

Another suggestion in the report is that ambulance companies in Washington County take the lead in developing a coalition with other organizations to develop a citizen CPR training program.

Iseminger said he supported the idea and said the commissioners should take charge of that project.

"It's something I feel strongly about," he said.

Another chapter in the report noted the necessity of up-to-date prefire planning information for businesses or large residential buildings, such as nursing homes. The information would be kept in emergency vehicles.

Prefire documents list such information as the name of the business owner, the hours people are likely to be inside, a floor plan and where shutoff valves are located, all of which can be vital to fire and rescue personnel in an emergency.

Grimes estimated that about 30 to 40 percent of fire and ambulance companies don't have current detailed information for their coverage areas.

He said companies in rapidly growing areas may not be able to keep up with new structures.

After a 30-minute discussion, the Emergency Services Council decided that a uniform prefire form should be established and that the prefire information should be tied into the building permit process.

That way, a permit could be withheld until the prefire form is completed by the business owner or representative, council members said.

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