Abilene Fire Department receives paramedic program accreditation


ABILENE, Texas - The Abilene Fire Department has received accreditation which allows them to train their firefighters as EMT paramedics.

On Thursday, the city will recognize this accomplishment, as well as the most recent class of 11 firefighters who earned certification on the first try. The state average for a first attempt pass in EMT paramedic training is 66 percent, but 100 percent of the Abilene group passed.

This national accreditation, which is through the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, is not common among fire departments in Texas. Currently, only one other department in the state has earned the distinction.

AFD is currently contracted with the ambulance service Metrocare, but when AFD responds to calls, they typically arrive first on the scene. This dual training allows those firefighters to work on a patient as soon as they arrive.

According to Abilene Fire Chief Larry Bell, 67 percent of calls are medical related. Firefighters trained as EMT paramedics can respond to those more efficiently when an ambulance can be avoided.

"Wherever you see a firefighter on scene that has that certification, you know that you're getting the highest level of care that can be provided," Bell said.

Training this way has budgetary benefits as well, minimizing cost to the city.

"We need that training locally where we don't have to send our personnel to the metroplex or to another part of the state to get that training," Bell said.

As a condition of employment, firefighters have two years to be certified as an EMT. They must also pay their own way for training, but certification can be obtained from the department at a reduced rate. This allows the overall budget to be maintained.

Currently, the city of Abilene has 88 firefighters that double as EMTs.

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