Fire Service Trauma Technicians
Many brigades, particularly Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service train a small percentage of firefighters to become Trauma Technicians. There is a lot of confusion of what the role and the training of these Trauma Technicians are. However, they are not a replacement for the Ambulance Service in any shape or form but are there for the reasons below.
Trauma Technicians Role
More than 300,000 people are injured on UK roads every year with around 3,400 fatalities. Out of these fatalities it is estimated that 40% of those who die before reaching hospital are dying from easily treatable causes such as lack of oxygen (Hypoxia) and a reduced blood volume (hypovalaemia), and that death from these treatable causes occurs in many cases only a few minutes after the accident.
It is important therefore, that the first responder is given the skills to maintain life. Ideally the bystander who telephones 999 should have these skills, but it is more realistic to train the first responding emergency services. This means that the fire service, and the police, requires basic trauma life support skills to support the patient until the arrival of the advanced ambulance or medical aid.
Every day firefighters are exposed to situations where people require treatment for serious or life threatening injuries, whether as a consequence of a road traffic accident, a house fire, or other situation where the rescue skills of the fire service are called upon. Whether the firefighter can provide this treatment will depend on the level of first aid knowledge, his practical first aid skills and his confidence to apply these skills.
Trauma Technician training is designed to provide the firefighter with a standard of knowledge needed to deal with such injuries. The simple assessment and treatment skills that they have will help them to save the life of a seriously injured casualty. There can be no monopoly on such skills, the first emergency service at the scene will then be able to deliver this level of care. Trauma Technicians are therefore extending their first aid proficiency.
What training is required?
Training starts with a basic first aid / trauma course. Following this you will be selected to go on a series of further 2 day courses delivered by various Paramedics, Doctors, Nurses and Senior Consultants. During this course you will be assessed for your suitability to go onto an advanced trauma care course, which will be a 2 day intensive course. During all these courses you will be given scenarios from RTCs to house fires and expected to treat casualties within these situations until the paramedics arrive.
After successful completion of this course you will then be sent on a hospital placement to work in an A and E Department. This is for 2 days. You will also spend a day in surgery possibly with an anesthetist and then finally a day is spent on the road in the Rapid Response Vehicles (RRVs). Upon completion of the course you will then be classed as a Fire and Rescue Service Trauma Technician identified by green and white checked squares on your helmet. Training is then continued with yearly updates including riding with an ambulance crew and a requalification every 3 years.
Trauma Technicians are not a replacement for any Ambulance or Paramedic and are not mobilised to medical emergencies. They are simply there to provide the best possible care at the scene until the arrival of the Ambulance or Paramedics.
Over the past few years, ambulance personnel in Greater Manchester have come to recognise the importance of Trauma Technicians and many make good use of them on incidents. Trauma Technicians and ambulance personnel now train together on many stations with paramedics and learn from each other in the different scenarios that we are likely to encounter.