Southlake Firefighters never slow down. Whether it’s responding to a medical emergency, a fire call, a major traffic accident, or attending a public education event for the community, the men and women who make up the department are always on the go.
Even with this busy schedule, crews make time to hone their skills through ongoing training. Recently, firefighters received hands-on training for Street Level Airway Management (SLAM). “It’s important for every firefighter to be able to care for a patient in various difficult scenarios,” said EMS Battalion Chief Ryan Arthur.
In most situations, firefighters are going to be able to place a patient on a level surface like the floor or ground, but in some cases it’s just not possible. For example, what if firefighters respond to a patient who suffers a medical condition while working underground beneath a manhole? It’s a cramped space with low visibility. Firefighters are trained to lower personnel crew into the manhole, stabilize a patient; including making sure their airway is open, before securing them to the stretcher and bringing them to the surface for transport to a hospital.
Firefighters from A, B, and C shift spent several hours over three days perfecting techniques and learning from the best in their field. The classes are taught by the department’s experienced Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Field Training Officers (FTOs). “The FTOs are experts in their field and do an amazing job. Training in this type of environment is so important and helps firefighters think outside the box,” said Fire Chief Mike Starr.
The SLAM course uses hands-on training aids to help firefighters get the most accurate experience before utilizing their skills on patients. “It’s more realistic than working with only plastic tubes that are made to mimic a human’s trachea or lungs,” said Arthur.
The SLAM training also includes use of a special camera that’s inserted into a mannequin’s trachea. During training, obstructions are put in place to allow firefighters to problem solve. It allows them to see what they normally can’t see in a real situation. The camera can also be used in treating a real patient with an airway obstruction. “Time is critical when you are trying to clear an airway and restore breathing in a patient,” said Arthur.
Ongoing training is an important part of the mission of the Southlake Fire Department and why it has a #1 rating with the Insurance Service Office (ISO) and the State Fire Marshal’s office. The highest rating a Fire Department can receive.
Southlake residents can breathe easy knowing firefighters and the Southlake Fire Department are dedicated to the safety and protection of your community and are always working to serve you better.
To learn more about the Southlake Fire Department visit their website at www.cityofsouthlake.com/firedepartment.