In December, Rockaway Beach Fire Chief, Todd Hesse presented the National Registry of Emergency Technicians (NREMT) patch to three of six volunteer fire fighters who have completed the requirements through Tillamook Bay Community College (TBCC) to receive their EMT license through the State of Oregon.
The fire department now has a total of eight licensed EMTs serving the Rockaway Beach community.
Fire Chief Hesse told the Rockaway Beach City Council that because of the increasing medical needs in the community due to an aging population they decided to partner with TBCC over the summer to offer EMT training to their volunteer fire fighters as a way in increase service to the Rockaway Beach community.
“Basically, we formed this partnership over the summer,” Hesse explained, “and we were able to start a really great working relationship with TBCC. We can’t just teach a class because we want to teach a class; we have to be accredited or work with a college, so we were able to build this partnership and run the college class here on site.”
Hesse worked with Brooke Bennet, the Healthcare Program Coordinator at TBCC, who said it was the most phenomenal EMT class they have ever run. “It was a win for us, it was a win for our students, and it’s a win for the entire county because now there are six more licensed EMTS in our community who are helping serve not just Rockaway Beach but really the entire county,” she said.
Several of the newly-licensed EMTS have been volunteering with the Rockaway Beach Fire Department for a year or more, but are now able to help in more hands-on ways with patients.
“This gives me a whole different level of skills I can use to help my community,” said volunteer firefighter Dan Golden, who has been with the department for five years. “Before, we were just taking notes for the paramedics, but it is completely different now. The paramedics know when they show up and see us there that they can rely on us, and they are letting us get in there and help.”
Kelsey Tobin, who works for Adventist Health – Tillamook as a physical therapist, added that it helps with the continuity of care for the community because she might see someone who calls 911 and then a few days later see them for a physical therapy appointment.
Geoff Grace, who works for the fire department and instructed the class, noted that with this new level of certification comes increased trust from not just the ambulance crew but the hospital as well. “Our goal with this class was not just to increase the level of service to our community but the whole county by increasing the level of what our volunteers can do, and increasing their knowledge and awareness,” he said.
The Rockaway Beach Fire Department has 18 rostered volunteers and 12 active volunteers. They will be offering another EMS class in January through TBCC that will be open to anyone not just their volunteers.
In addition to this partnership with the Rockaway Beach Fire Department, the EMS certificate offered through TBCC can be started at any time, and prepares students to take the National Registry EMT Certification exam and apply for an Oregon State EMT license.
“Our students learn problem solving, patient care, and team building skills to prepare them for a variety of positions in the healthcare field,” said Brooke Bennett. “These are vital members of the healthcare team, and we are actively training people to meet this role and fill a need in our community.” To learn more about the Emergency Medical Services Certificate at TBCC visit tillamookbaycc.edu.