Fire and EMS Training
Want to serve on your local volunteer fire department or ambulance? Nicolet can provide the training.
Talk to any of the 42 volunteer fire departments in the Nicolet College District and you’ll hear that they need more volunteers.
The same goes for almost all of the 52 emergency medical services crews serving the Northwoods.
“Just about every one of them needs more members,” said Dana Baumgartner, who works with these departments as EMS and Fire Services Specialist at Nicolet College.
Individuals who are willing to step up and serve their communities need specific training in order to effectively respond to an emergency and stay safe themselves while battling a house fire, assisting at a car crash, or treating a medical emergency.
“Federal and state laws and regulations set minimum educational requirements, and that is where Nicolet College comes in,” Baumgartner said.
The sequence of classes for both the firefighter and EMS programs start with the basics and build from there, with each additional class providing a higher level of learning.
Volunteer firefighters commonly start with a three-class progression: Firefighter Part A, Firefighter Part B, and culminating with Certified Fire Fighter I- Part C. Instruction covers nearly two dozen skill sets, with education in areas such as fire behavior, personnel safety, building construction, ladder and hose use, water supplies, ventilation techniques, rescue operations, sprinkler systems, utilities and electrical fires, and Incident Command Systems.
After completion of the training, students are eligible for the State Certification exams. Once individuals are certified, the door opens to more specialized instruction. These classes include learning how to safely drive a fire truck in a variety of situations, using the robust pumping apparatus on a truck, and using aerial ladders.
Other classes teach individuals to be certified fire inspectors, how to detect arson, and effectively lead and command a brigade fighting an active fire.
As an added benefit for the entry-level courses, fire students affiliated with a recognized department who successfully complete the course have their tuition covered by State of Wisconsin 2% Insurance Dues funding or Wisconsin Emergency Management Grants.
In the Emergency Medical Services track, students may start with the 72-hour Emergency Medical Responder course where they learn how to assess and care for ill or injured patients. This can range from administering simple first aid to providing basic life support in trauma situations until an ambulance arrives.
Those seeking more advanced skills can ladder their training into Nicolet courses to become Emergency Medical Technicians licensed by the Wisconsin Division of Health. No matter the track, firefighter or EMS, it’s a significant commitment for individuals interested in joining a volunteer department, Baumgartner explained.
“Having the time is probably one of the biggest barriers for people,” she said. “The bulk of the time commitment goes into the education and training necessary to effectively and safely respond to a variety of situations.”
Becoming a certified Fire Fighter 1 requires 112 hours of training. This includes Hazardous Materials Operations.
Emergency Medical Responders complete 72 hours of education. The Emergency Medical Technician Technical Diploma requires 180 hours of education, and the Advanced Emergency Medical Technician Technical Diploma requires 180 hours of education.
Firefighters are encouraged to take state certification exams, however each department sets their minimum standards. EMS students are required to take National Exams to be eligible for licensure to practice in Wisconsin.
In return, volunteer departments also need to make a commitment to the individual when they take on a new volunteer, she added.
“Providing all the turn-out gear, a coat, pants, a helmet, boots and a breathing apparatus, typically runs $8,000 to $11,000 per person for a department. There’s definitely an investment there.”
But what if someone would like to help at a volunteer fire department but isn’t necessarily the type to run into burning building or gets queasy at the site of blood? Is there a place for them at a volunteer fire department?
“Absolutely,” Baumgartner said. “There are all sorts of roles to fill that require little or no training. These can range from taking care of simple administrative paperwork tasks to providing food and water to fire fighters on the scene of a fire and everything in between. Most departments have room for all types of supportive roles.”
The first step to become involved, or to get more information is by contacting your local fire or EMS service.
More information about the fire fighter and EMS training available at Nicolet is available on the college’s website at nicoletcollege.edu. Interested individuals can also contact Baumgartner at (715) 365-4600 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.