Above and Beyond the Call of Duty

More local firefighters are getting the medical training they need to help people until paramedics can arrive.

In Lowndes County, firefighters from several different agencies are learning what it takes to become a medical first responder. It's a skill that's becoming more necessary every day.

With only four ambulances servicing Lowndes County, many local firefighters, including several in Hahira, are learning how to become medical first responders.

Dwight Bennett, Hahira Fire Chief, says, "Because if something happens, we're the first ones called and the public expects us to do, so as far as training and equipment, and the first responder program is one aspect of that."

Firefighters who've been certified as first responders say despite the extra time and effort it takes to pass the course, they say it really pays off when they get out on the scene of a medical emergency.

"They're gonna’ be the first defense if somebody is having a medical problem. There is a few more minutes before ambulance can get there, so they're going to be the people's first hope as far as helping them out. For the first few minutes, it’s just the firefighter there, so they need to be ready to go," says Jeff Thibodeau, a firefighter and medical first responder.

Firefighters go though more than 40 hours of training to become first responder certified.

"The main reason people go down that avenue is just a willingness to serve their fellow man," adds Dwight Bennett.

It’s a service that can prove to be lifesaving.

Most of this training is done though local colleges, and because the firefighters are eligible for the Hope Grant, the classes come at no out of pocket expense.