Park Fire Management Staff Complete Emergency Medical Responder Training and Certification

The fire management staff at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore recently completed a national-standard emergency medical responder (EMR) course, and eight firefighters have successfully earned both national and State of Indiana EMR certifications.

A man in a National Park Service uniform uses a blood pressure cuff on another man.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Fire Management Officer Dan Morford practices taking a blood pressure reading on senior firefighter Evan Jones.
Firefighters carry a litter.
Fire management staff practice using devices to maintain a patient’s airway as part of their 45 hours of classroom training for emergency medical responder.

NPS / M. Bell

In May 2014, members of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore fire management staff completed a combined 45 hours of classroom and hands-on training, in addition to 16 hours of online training, to complete the class. After completion of requisite training, each of the firefighters successfully completed a state-administered written test and practical exam, and the National Registry of EMT’s computer-based exam for emergency medical responders.

Emergency Medical Services Program

Firefighters use a lifesaving device during practice.
Fire management staff practice using devices to maintain a patient’s airway as part of their 45 hours of classroom training for emergency medical responder.

NPS / M. Bell

As an agency, the National Park Service (NPS) has an emergency medical services (EMS) program in place to allow for the care of sick and injured persons visiting or working at national park sites. This program is administered and run by commissioned law enforcement park rangers at most locations. The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore fire management staff saw the NPS EMS program as an opportunity to train themselves to be able to better respond to medical-related incidents on the fireline. Additionally, because Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore regularly dispatches engines and overhead resources throughout the region and nationally to assist other parks and forests with wildfires and prescribed fires, being medically trained was seen as a force multiplier when assisting those other units.

The park used a staff member who is an experienced EMT, in addition to an administratively determined (AD) firefighter who is a local EMS instructor, to complete the training. During a two-month period leading up to the spring 2014 fire season, firefighters conducted 8-12 hours of instruction a week while still preparing prescribed fire units and gearing up for the spring season.

After completing the classroom requirements for EMR, the students were administered a State of Indiana written test and practical exam by other instructors and EMTs who were not part of the instructor cadre. Upon successfully passing those phases of testing, the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore firefighters went on to take the computer-based competency exam administered by the National Registry of EMTs (NREMT). The NPS uses the NREMT computer-based testing as a servicewide training standard to ensure clear standards of training across all NPS units. After successfully passing the NREMT testing on their first try, the firefighters were granted NPS authorization to serve as emergency medical responders. This level of training allows them to be the first line of response to medical incidents on the fireline, on fuels and prescribed fire projects, and while on detail or assignments to other NPS units.

Completing this grueling training and certification process shows the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore firefighters’ commitment to their fellow firefighters and to park staff and visitors.

Contact: Micah Bell, fire prevention technician, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
Email: micah_bell@nps.gov
Phone: (219) 395-8150