Area first responders work on preparedness

Travis Estes, Priority Emergency Medical Services director, hands Lenoir City firefighter Mike Curtis, left, a certificate commemorating his participation in the most recent eight-hour training session held at the Lenoir City Utilities Board office.

Jeremy Nash | News-Herald

Area first responders recently attended an extensive training session held by Priority Ambulance in hopes of better preparing for the unknown.

About 70 representatives spanning all the first responder agencies in Loudon County were present Feb. 24 at the Lenoir City Utilities Board office to refresh themselves on what to do during various emergency situations they may face.

The training was the fourth Priority Ambulance hosted dating back to the time the company set up operations inside county limits, Travis Estes, Loudon County Emergency Medical Services director of Priority Ambulance, said.

“We put this in our contract to make sure that we’re held accountable,” Estes said. “It’s a great program. We wanted to do this, but we also wanted to make sure that we’re held accountable to do so.”

Training covered a wide range, including EMS care for people with disabilities, children and neonates, stroke care, airway bleeding and trauma as well as skill labs, Estes said.

“Being in emergency services they have to be prepared for any situation,” Estes said. “You never know whether you’re going to go to somebody that’s elderly that has fallen at home, to delivering a premature baby to a medical, to a 20-car pileup on the interstate with mass casualties. They can get everything in between, so we try to make sure we keep them well-trained in all aspects that they may run into. ... From the neonate newborn all the way up through elderly and everything in between.”

Estes has seen the difference the educational program has made. Before Priority, Estes said Rural/Metro would hold limited training but nothing of this magnitude covering eight hours in a day.

“It kind of fell off when Rural/Metro was here and then as soon as I came back, and again, that was when the mayor had taken over, we tried to reiterate and re-instill these programs that we had in the past that were very successful,” Estes said. “Whether it was this county training that we do every year or the programs that we’ve done a tremendous amount of work in the school systems in the city and county school systems that we provide them with CPR and first aid training.”

County-wide training sessions are typically held in February or March, bouncing between Loudon and Lenoir City locations, Estes said. Emergency responders get certificates for participating.

“We have to have a certain amount of continuing education units every year, so that’s a necessary thing that we have to do,” Mike Brubaker, Loudon fire chief, said. “On the other hand, we’re getting some meaningful training out of it instead of just watching some videos. ... We’re actually getting some hands-on classroom environment. It’s more meaningful and useful to our guys out in the field when they have to respond to emergencies.”

Loudon County Mayor Rollen “Buddy” Bradshaw believes the annual refresher makes a “county-wide impact.”

“A good majority of our paid firefighters, they wear many hats,” Bradshaw said. “So that’s going to affect our volunteer fire departments, and our volunteer firefighters they’re going to get the training. EMS and EMTs and EMA, our county is so fortunate and blessed to have so many volunteers wanting to step back up into the community. A training like this, it’s just county-wide. The impact’s there. ... I have to thank Priority as well because you look at some of our smaller communities. Greenback and Philadelphia are so dependent upon their volunteer departments, and Tellico Village, which is a huge community yet still dependent on their volunteer department.

“For Priority to come in and provide this training, it’s just a wonderful thing county-wide,” he added.