Firemen will train in EMT program – Chief says will help when ambulances short

Published 3:35 pm Tuesday, June 11, 2024

By Ian Sparks

The City of Batesville Fire Department is starting a training program for its firemen, in hopes to become more prepared to deal with medical emergencies. This program was introduced by Fire Chief Tim Taylor at a recent board meeting. 

Taylor said that the program will be focusing mostly on giving his firemen a basic understanding of EMT procedures in an effort to give his staff versatility when approaching a situation. 

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“We’re not interested in getting into the ambulance business at the present moment, but we are interested in getting our citizens more service,” Taylor said. 

There are two levels his employees will be able to go through: EMT-B and EMT-A. EMT-B is the Basic level of EMT training and provides a basic level of pre-hospital care for sick or injured citizens. EMT-A, the Advanced level of the program, offers the same services as the basic level with additional training in administering fluids and medications. 

Another driving force behind the program is the unavailability of ambulances in the county. According to Taylor, there are currently four ambulances in Panola County, which spans 705 square miles. 

“If you drive from Crenshaw to Bynum, from one corner of the county to the other, it’ll take you an hour. Panola County is a big county,” Taylor said. 

Additionally, there is a “mutual aid” law that permits nearby ambulances to respond to calls when a primary ambulance cannot. For example, an emergency in Oxford that requires backup would contact ambulances in Batesville, leaving Batesville shorthanded. 

The program will be offered on a voluntary basis and run through Northwest MS Community College. Those who do participate in getting certified will receive a stipend from the city of Batesville as well as extra pay once they are registered. It will not be a requirement for firefighters to be registered. 

“A lot of departments require their firefighters to be EMTs. We won’t make it a requirement of ours, but we are just trying to step our game up.”