Fire, EMT Expo brings conventions together for the first time

........................................................................................................................................................................................

Coming together for training for the first time, New Mexico fire personnel and EMTs are in Socorro for the New Mexico Fire and EMS Expo 2012.

Instructional staff supervisor at the New Mexico Fire Academy Brad Brunson said the two emergency services have offered separate conventions in the past, but this year they have combined their efforts.

The combined effort is able to offer training attendees close to 80 workshop opportunities, Brunson said. Many of the training sessions are able to offer EMS continuing education credits which can be applied to certification, he said.

“We have worked with the state EMS bureau to get fire related classes to have continuing education credits,” Brunson said.

Tom Reilly, president of New Mexico Emergency Medical Technicians Association, said about 80 percent of EMTs in the state are also firefighters.

“In very many places they have separate trainings,” Reilly said. “We can get much more meaningful training by training together the way we work together.”

Reilly used the example of the training session called “Taking Care of Our Own,” where EMTs learn how to treat firefighters as they come off an exhausting situation. With the programs together, the EMTs can actually work with firefighters coming out of the burn room who have also been training.

Also, he said, it is good for the EMTs to be able to actually go into the training area and observe what the firefighters experience.

“As long as you have bunker gear, you can go in and see what a firefighter goes through,” he said.

The combined training opportunity has elicited a tremendous response from conference attendees, Reilly said. Almost twice as many EMTs are attending this year’s conference than last year.

“We think its a great idea to give people something they enjoy,” he said. “So far it’s been fabulous.”

This year’s conference is also providing social activities for participants, Reilly said. A barbecue event and a breakfast event highlight the gatherings.

The thing that many New Mexico fire departments don’t realize, Brunson said, is training at the academy for all state firefighters is free to anyone in a state funded department. The academy offers classes year-round and trainings in other locations as well.

The academy is funded by a surcharge on New Mexico homeowners insurance and has been since the 1950s, he said.

Plus, he added, the departments can use their state fire-fund money to pay travel and lodging expenses for their firefighters’ time at the academy.

The academy has seven full-time instructors on site and uses 70 to 80 adjunct instructors who are mostly experienced firefighters from around the state taking a week or so every year to help out at the academy.

“We’re going from 8 to 5, five days a week,” said Deputy State Fire Marshal Reyes Romero.

Romero said members of the community are welcome anytime at the academy as well.

“If they see smoke, they are more than welcome to come and check out what we are doing,” Romero said.