Newark-Wayne Community Hospital’s emergency/prehospital physician, Syrett initiated a new course called Firefighter Immediate Response to Severe Trauma, or FIRST.
When shots rang out at a home in West Webster on Christmas Eve, two first responders were down and their fellow firefighters were helpless to save them.
Dr. Jamie Syrett hopes to change that for future firefighters.
Newark-Wayne Community Hospital’s emergency/prehospital physician, Syrett initiated a new course called Firefighter Immediate Response to Severe Trauma, or FIRST. Although it was something Syrett had been thinking about starting, the events of Dec. 24 precipitated the formation of the course that is now being offered for free by Syrett through Newark-Wayne Community Hospital. The course teaches life-saving measures that have been taught to police officers and EMS personnel, Syrett said, but it was now apparent firefighters needed the training as well.
“I wanted firefighters to be able to respond to injuries that could kill you before you ever get in the ambulance,” Syrett said. “I modified the course so it’s easy to do to save lives, whether it’s your own or someone else’s.”
Syrett said he partnered with Wayne County Fire Coordinator Rick Bond, Wayne County Emergency Medical Services Coordinator Bill Liddle and Wayne County Advanced Life Support to provide the most comprehensive training to firefighters. The course is one step above first aid, Syrett said, and is in fact information that can easily be found online. But Syrett wanted to make sure firefighters were taught the techniques correctly.
“And I hope they never have to use it,” he added.
It’s all about “buddy care,” Syrett said, and how to save the person beside you. Although there is some first-aid training, Syrett takes firefighters to the next level by teaching them how to pack a wound to stop the bleeding and then how to dress it, how to use a tourniquet, how to prevent a victim from choking on his or her own tongue by placing a tube through the nose for them breathe through and how to treat a chest wound, whether it’s sticking a finger in the wound or putting a hole in the side to insert a tube and drain the blood to relieve pressure around the heart.
The thought of having to perform a life-saving treatment may seem daunting to the average firefighter who has no medical background, but Syrett believes the training gives them much more than knowledge.
“The real-life situation is the person beside them is a friend, a neighbor. You have two options — do something or do nothing,” Syrett said. “Teaching them this is empowering them.”
The events of Dec. 24 left not only many firefighters feeling powerless, but also their loved ones, he said. Syrett said every time a firefighter leaves to answer a call for help, a spouse or family member is left at home wondering if such a tragedy will happen again to the one they love. This training offers them a little security and hopefully puts them at ease, Syrett said.
Page 2 of 2 - “We’re addressing a reality that no one wants to talk about,” he said. "Unfortunately, the reality of today is that we now have to teach firefighters skills to stay safe from situations other than fire at fire scenes. This is one of the first courses that directly addresses the realities of firefighting today, that teaches these individuals to protect themselves until EMS can help in trauma situations.”
To date, six classes have been held at various fire departments — including West Walworth last week — throughout the area, he said.
Syrett volunteers his time to provide the training, but he credits the hospital for their support by providing the supplies needed for the course as well as food for the firefighters to enjoy.
“It was Dr. Syrett’s vision, and we’ve just supported him every step of the way,” hospital President Mark Klyczwk said. “Being the only hospital, we are the main source of education for EMS and we take that seriously. Dr. Syrett is the only doctor who is fellowship trained in EMS, so he’s very unique. It’s a good partnership.”
Syrett and Bond are pleased with the feedback they have received from the training.
“The course has been phenomenally received by the firefighting community, and each course that was held was well attended,” Bond said. “Over 150 firefighters have been taught these techniques, and the demand for the course has been so high that future courses are currently being scheduled.”
Independent agencies are also now asking for the training as well, and Syrett is just fine with that.
“As long as they keep asking for us to provide the class, we will continue offering the training,” he said, adding, “I think I will be pretty busy for a long time to come.”