RUTLEDGE – Grainger County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) held its bi-annual training Monday, November 22 and Tuesday, November 23 to help ensure the preparedness of its employees. 

Members of the Grainger County EMS gathered at the Grainger County Agriculture Pavilion to update their medical certification, which they do every six months, according to EMS Director Mardy Bowen.

He said the employees complete driving courses, advanced life support courses for pediatrics and prehospital trauma life support courses annually and bi-annually. During the recent training, EMS employees completed courses in rapid sequence intubation, which allows paramedics and EMTs to intubate a patient in an ambulance, 

The employees completed eight hours of training each day, covering courses in rapid sequence intubation, pediatrics, breathing issues, cardiac arrest and driving. Employees were provided with a hot meal in addition to the training. 

“We try to do that just to make them feel appreciated and take care of some of these things for them,” said Bowen. 

The employees also complete medical recertification with the state and national registry every two years. The State of Tennessee provides eight hours of inservice with each session and at the end of two years, employees have earned 3.2 continuing education units (CEU), which is enough for a paramedic to maintain certification, with EMTs being required to have 2.4 CEUs for certification. 

Bowen said the training helps the paramedics and EMTs to be able to perform in any situation they may face on the job.

“There’s a lot of things that goes on in the back of that ambulance, and a lot of people don’t realize that. What can go on in the back of that ambulance is the same thing that would be done in an emergency room in an emergency situation, in a life or death situation,” said Bowen. “We can pretty much do anything in the back of that ambulance on the way to the hospital.”

Bowen said he is thankful for the lives EMS can save, but he said sometimes, no matter the extensive measures performed, the person cannot be resuscitated. He said the important part of the training is ensuring the paramedics and EMTs are prepared to attempt saving a life. 

“That’s what this training is about, being ready for that next emergency,” said Bowen.

EMS currently has four ambulances running in the county. He said like other employers in the country, EMS is currently having issues with staffing. He said EMS is attempting to make itself more appealing to paramedics by offering them an increased wage. 

Bowen said he believed people were more wary of taking the job because they have seen how dangerous it can be, especially with the rise of COVID-19. 

“I just ask for people to bear with us. Hopefully, things are going to be better,” said Bowen. “There’s a lot of naysayers and negativity going on out there that I deal with, and I wish it wasn’t like that. All I can do is keep trying and trying to make this service the best that it possibly can be to make the citizens of this county proud. We try.”

Bowen said the EMS department is humbled to serve Grainger County.

Anyone who would like more information about Grainger County EMS can call Bowen at the EMS office at (865) 828-3682 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.