Fire Department Fights More Than Fires
Much of being a firefighter in 2012 means responding to medical calls. Smyrna Fire Department boasts the highest percentage of certified paramedics of any fire department in Georgia.
At a recent Smyrna City Council meeting, Fire Chief Jason Lanyon explained that in 2012 a firefighter’s job includes more than putting out fires. He said that 56 percent of the calls Smyrna firefighters responded to last year were medical in nature. And that doesn’t include the percentages that began as emergency medical services calls, but were later reclassified.
Luckily Smyrna firefighters are trained to handle the high volume of medical calls they receive. Of the 77 firefighters on staff, 63, or about 81 percent, are paramedics. Ten are certified emergency medical technicians and one is completing paramedic certification.
“We don’t know of anybody that has anywhere near that percentage, maybe not even as close as half of that percentage—at least around this area,” Lanyon said. “Maybe there are other regions in the country where it’s more prevalent, but we don’t know of any department in Georgia.”
Lanyon credits Smyrna government officials who required that the men and women hired to the Smyrna Fire Department be certified paramedics or earn certification within five years of working for the department.
But training doesn’t stop once the firefighters become certified paramedics. In 2011 the firefighters participated in classes on structural fire control, introduction to technical rescue, air medical transport operations and basic firefighter training.
Smyrna firefighters are committed to keeping the community healthy, but also to keeping them informed. In 2011 the fire department hosted 16 CPR classes, six advanced cardiac life support classes and two CPR instructor classes. The department plans to continue to host CPR classes this year through its partnership with Emory-Adventist Hospital.
The department also offered child safety seat inspections each Monday. Lanyon said safety some statistics indicate that 90 percent of child safety seats are installed incorrectly.
“Most people would be able to go out right now and get ahold of their car seat and find this is the case, when you get ahold of it, it should not move one inch in any direction,” he said. “When we put them in we put a 200-pound-person in the seat before we tighten the belt. A lot of them are put in wrong. There are so many different models of seats. There are so many different models of cars.”
Teri Anulewicz, Ward 3 city council member, explained that it’s easy to underestimate the difficulty of not only installing a car seat, but securing a child in one.
“Not only will they tell if you seat is properly installed they will teach you to install it correctly because that’s the most important thing,” Anulewicz said. “They’ll also show you how to correctly put your child in the seat if you have them with you. You can have the car seats properly installed, but if you’ve got a slack harness or any number of things. You’d think it wouldn’t rocket science, but it’s close.”
Parents or grandparents interested in scheduling a car seat inspection can call Fire Station No. 1 at 770-436-6676.