Jackson Hole Fire/EMS increased its total number of full-time paramedics to 18 with the recent graduation of three of its firefighters from a rigorous paramedic training program.
Firefighters Chance Abel, Ian Cranston and Ben Thurston earned their paramedic credentials in August through the Weber State University Paramedic Program, based in Ogden, Utah.
The program is composed of more than 1,500 hours of a “combination of live online distance education; in-person hands-on training; 240 hours of supervised hospital rotations in surgical departments, cardiac catherization labs, obstetrics, pediatrics and burn units; and 480 hours of field internships at several fire departments in Utah,” according to a Jackson Hole Fire/EMS release. Before beginning the program, Abel, Cranston and Thurston had to complete prerequisite courses including anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, math and English.
Training responders in rural areas like Teton County is critical because the need for paramedics is most acute in areas where medical assistance is not always easily accessible and transport times to medical facilities are often extended due to distance and weather.
The three firefighters were aided in paying for the intense program by Teton County, the town of Jackson, the Wyoming Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program and the Western Wyoming Healthcare Coalition.
Fire Chief Brady Hansen expressed great pride in the three men’s accomplishment and noted that it can be extra difficult for Jackson Hole firefighters to earn their paramedic certification, compared with firefighters at larger departments with more funding.
“It is a very rigorous program that requires a lot of study on their own time and a lot of study while they’re at work; they still had to work while going through the program,” Hansen said. “Some agencies are in a financial position that they send their crews and their crews don’t have to work; they just go to the program and that’s their full-time work. We’re not in that position. Our crews had to work while they went through it, but they came out in really, really good shape, and we’re thrilled to have them on board.”