Beyond the blaze: Temple firefighters also certified EMTs, paramedics

While many people think of just burning houses and high-pressure water hoses when they think about their local fire department, emergency medical technician and paramedic services are an essential part off the response provided by Temple Fire & Rescue.


“We are about 65 percent EMS, 25 percent rescues and fire calls,” said Temple Fire & Rescue Battalion Chief Samuel A. Hendrick.


The Texas Commission on Fire Protection requires state certified firefighters to have EMT training but does not require paramedic training. However, Temple Fire & Rescue gives their firefighters the option to attend paramedic school once the department hires them.


“We want to provide the best service and care for our community,” Temple Fire & Rescue Chief Mitch Randles said. “Our citizens expect us to be more than just a fire department, which is why we have strived to fill those nontraditional roles in addition to the primary fire protection mission. Because of this need, many of our team members have put in the work to elevate their skillset. We are very proud of that.”


Of the 122 firefighters on the force, about 40 percent have gone the extra step of obtaining their paramedic certification and that number is climbing.


“The benefit to the department and the community is we are able to more efficiently serve citizens because we can handle both the medical and the fire side,” said Hendricks.


When firefighters respond to a call, they often use their medical training to evaluate the patient and can sometimes reduce the number of transports.


As compared to EMTs, paramedics have 1,200 to 1,800 additional hours of training. Other than basic medical care, paramedics are also trained to administer medicines, perform intubation, insert IV lines, and administer drugs, among other procedures. This allows the department to respond to a wide range of calls including lift assists, sick people, cardiac arrest, major trauma, and car wrecks.


“The goal is to be able to respond to a call in a timely manner, stabilize the patient, get them ready for transport, and then help the ambulance crew get them loaded up,” said Hendricks.


In some instances, the fire department can respond quicker to a call compared to an ambulance because there are eight fire departments stationed across the city.


“One of the advantages is we are able to respond faster and give advance medical care in a timely manner,” said Hendricks.


So, while Temple Fire and Rescue has you covered with any fire-related issue, rest assured they’ve got you covered in a medical or rescue emergency as well.