USAFE firefighters, medics train to teach

Story and photos by 1st Airman Class Kenny Holston

The 435th Medical Group kicked off a two-week Emergency Medical Technician Instructor Course for firefighters and medics around U.S. Air Forces in Europe Feb. 2 on Ramstein.

The course put more than 20 firefighters and medics from eight different bases in the same training environment, making sure each learned the same curriculum.
“We must ensure both firefighters and medics are on the same page,” said Senior Master Sgt. Bruce McKenzie, 435th Medical Operations Squadron superintendent. “When medics and firefighters arrive on scene, they must maintain consistency in the way they save lives.”

The instructor course pushed students to not only learn new skills, but also prepped them for instructing several of their squadron members upon return to their duty stations.

“This is a direct correlation to teaching the student to become the teacher,” said Chief Master Sgt. Charles Cole, U.S. Air Forces in Europe medical enlisted force chief. “The training each of these students receives will impact thousands across USAFE. This is a great investment in each of these firefighters and medical technicians.”
The course was led by Master Sgt. Jeff Cahill, U.S. Air Force emergency technician instructor, who trained and pushed students to their full potential, having them create lesson plans, give class presentations and participate in hands-on training.

“We are showing you how to better apply your skills,” said Sergeant Cahill as he gave the class overview. “You all are already equipped with the skills and training you need. We’re just going to help sharpen your skills and give you what you need to be able to go back and teach firefighters and medics from your units.”

The course started with students standing before their peers and giving three-minute impromptu speeches about themselves and their respective career fields.

Shortly after the initial tasking, the class jumped into emergency response techniques, increasing the students’ knowledge of responding to a scene while keeping both firefighters and medics on the same learning curve.
“This course helps bridge the gap between firefighters and medical training, resulting in a decrease in variability,” said Col. Angela Thompson, 435th Medical Group commander. “After all, we live by ‘one team one fight.”

Tech. Sgt. Don Swiger, 835th Civil Engineer Squadron district fire chief, said, “This course is definitely beneficial to all students who are taking it. By focusing and applying our training, it could not only make a difference in that one split second but also can be a huge success when we realize we saved a life.”

“Course coordination was a challenge but well worth it and a huge success,” said Staff Sgt. Korrine Kargl, 435th Medical Group emergency medical technician program director. “Each of the students is taking away valuable information from this course.”

Throughout the duration of the course, students became comfortable and confident with their newly acquired instructor skills.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to have had lots of experience, but can never learn enough,” said Staff Sgt. Erin Matschke, 31st Medical Group medical technician, Aviano Air Base, Italy. “Being at this course is giving me the skills to be able to pass on the knowledge I’ve obtained during my career experiences.”

While the class focused on making instructors out of the students, the course instructors made sure both firefighters and medics were taught the same way to keep everybody consistent when going back to teach their home units.
“Standardization is very important when firefighters and medical technicians are working together. There are a lot of critical folks that depend on our skills to save their lives,” Colonel Thompson said.