New emergency responders get the basics at Rescue Hose class

Shawn Hardy news@echo-pilot.com
Connie McGill is the instructor for the emergency medical responder class being held at the Rescue Hose Co. SHAWN HARDY/ECHO PILOT

An emergency medical responder class being held for the first time in Greencastle benefits both the students and the Rescue Hose Co.

Fifteen people are enrolled in the class that is meeting at the fire hall twice a week for two months with instructor Connie McGill, a paramedic from Shippensburg. In addition to the 80-hour class, the students have homework and tests, which are taken at home.

There was high interest in the class from volunteers with the Rescue Hose Co., which provides the training and is paying for members to take it, according Rich Wertman, emergency medical services chief.

Their certification will qualify them to be first responders, able to drive an ambulance and provide basic medical care like stopping bleeding or opening an airway.

In addition to enhancing what they can do as volunteers, the course is a first step toward more advanced training and possible jobs, including emergency medical technician and paramedic.

"They volunteer and help us, and they also get the basic knowledge to continue their education," Wertman said.

Rescue Hose Co. members make up the majority of the class, but there is also one student from Marion and two from the Greencastle Police Department.

In the classroom 

McGill describes her class as "definitely adult students," some involved in emergency services for a long time and some relative newcomers.

Jenny Hann was one of the Rescue Hose Co.'s first female EMS officers nearly three decades ago. However, life events like the illness and death of her father, long-time Rescue Hose Co. member Norm Hann Sr., going back to school for licensed practical nursing and being a single mother sidelined her for a several years.

"I have time to help again," Hann said.

Mel Gsell has been a member of the department for 32 years and used drive the ambulance, but requirements became stricter.

"I already had the terminology, but there was a lot I didn't know," Gsell said. "I'm learning."

Jamie and April Daley are empty-nesters. He joined the Rescue Hose Co. two years ago and she joined a year ago.

"I want to transport my knowledge ... to go on accidents and get the ambulances out quicker," Jamie Daley said.

The Daleys own their own business, SR Daley Sons Septic Service. April Daley said she is able to volunteer because "I can take work wherever I go with my phone."

They practice what they learn, such as taking vitals, on each other and family members.

April Daley plans to continue her training, becoming first an EMT then a paramedic. Her husband said he will probably follow in her wake.

Rescue Hose Co. Treasurer Tommy Bricker has been a member of the department for 44 years and drives fire apparatus, but also wanted to be able to help with the ambulance, Wertman said, noting the class also includes fathers and sons, as well as brothers.

As a police officer, Eric Kamoie is required to be trained in first aid, but the EMR class takes that to the next level, according to Greencastle Police Chief John Phillippy.

"The life he saves could be his own or someone else's," Phillippy said.

The department's administrative assistant Ericka Faight is also enrolled in the course.

There are a lot people in and out of borough hall, where the police station is located, on a daily basis. Police officers aren't always in the building and Faight can be a good resource in an emergency, the Phillippy said.

 What they learn 

The class covers the minimum someone needs to know to be a first responder with an ambulance, Wertman explained.

Students get "a tidbit of a lot," McGill said.

The curriculum includes seven sections:

Preparatory — EMS systems; workforce safety and wellness; lifting and moving patients; medical, legal and ethical issues; communication and documentation; the human body.

Airway — Airway management; professional rescue CPR.

Assessment — Patient assessment.

Medical — Medical emergencies; poisoning and substance abuse; behavioral emergencies; environmental emergencies.

Trauma — Bleeding, shock and soft tissue injuries; injury to muscle and bones.

Special patient populations — Childbirth; pediatric emergencies; geriatric emergencies.

EMS operations — Transport operations; vehicle extrication and special rescues; incident management.