Training never ends in the Fairfield Fire Department. Not only do personnel constantly look for self-improvement of their skills, every firefighter must stay current with their certifications. Every firefighter must have certification as an Emergency Medical Technician – Basic (EMT-B) or the more advanced training as an Emergency Medical Technician – Paramedic (EMT-P).
To maintain certifications, each person must complete up to 80-hours of continuing education. Attending classes and seminars is an expensive proposition, with costs rising for travel, lodging and class fees. Another hurdle is the fact that staff typically attends classes as part of their regular hours, so staffing becomes an issue as well.
To answer the need and address the additional challenge of today's tight budgets, the Fairfield Fire Department has embarked on a contemporary solution that offers classes right in the fire stations, during regular hours, with staff members ready to answer a call when needed. That solution is online training through an agreement with Kaplan Continuing Education (KCE), a division of Kaplan University.
Once a month, EMTs and paramedics are assigned a specific on-line EMS course to complete. Courses can be completed outside of regular duties, all while personnel is fully available for emergency calls. A typical online class lasts about 1.5 hours and is comprised of a pre-test, video presentation of a case scenario, lecture, review and a post-test that must be passed by each student. On-line trainings feature actual case studies and provide fast-paced, high-energy videos that keep students engaged. If an emergency call interrupts the program, it can simply be paused.
The cost per student for KCE is about $55 annually, considerably less than off-site trainings. It's a good deal with many benefits. So good that the program is being expanded to include on-line Fire Officer Development and Hazardous Materials Operations classes.
While the on-line EMS and fire continuing education is beneficial, it does not take the place of hands-on training. Twice monthly, hands-on EMS training is taught by fire department EMS instructors, along with a quarterly EMS training typically taught by a physician.