Fire department takes refresher course in medical training

Published 12:28 am Wednesday, May 24, 2023

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Ashley Smith stood in front of a classroom of Port Arthur firefighters and schooled them on the many facets that go into a call dealing with childbirth.

The currently pregnant Smith, owner of Life Saving Tactics and Training, is a flight paramedic by trade and now, as a mother, is focusing on providing pre-hospital education for fire departments in the industrial environment.

She understands sometimes there are prolonged response times from understaffing at ambulance agencies and believes by providing more in-depth medical training to departments, they’re able to sustain treatment longer while waiting on an ambulance instead of the helpless feeling of not knowing what to do next.

Port Arthur Firefighters test on responding to childbirth Tuesday at Station 1. (Mary Meaux/The News)

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Bailey Barbay, a paramedic and former paramedic supervisor for Acadian ambulance, joined Smith in teaching the class.

The role of today’s firefighters also includes the requirement of EMT basic certification to be prepared when rolling to an emergency.

Port Arthur Fire Chief Greg Benson said according to the Texas Commission on Fire Protection, firefighters must have an EMT Basic certification.

Tuesday’s training event, Continuing Education for Medical Personnel, was divided into segments, one of which was childbirth.

Benson said other training segments cover trauma, cardiac arrest and other medical issues.

Benson said a certain amount of training in a face-to-face environment is required and this allows the audience to interact with the instructor.

“And then the fact that everybody on all the crews are here is important because who also is going to be on the scene? That crew. So they’re having the opportunity to learn together, which will then equate to better working together,” Benson said.

Ashley Smith, owner of Life Saving Tactics and Training, provides training on childbirth response to Port Arthur firefighters Tuesday. (Mary Meaux/The News)

Pre-delivery emergencies, complications during delivery and breech birth were covered, and Smith gave rapid-fire questions on controlling bleeding, blood pressure changes and possible reasons why, miscarriage versus stillbirth, and multiple births.

Smith posed a question as she motioned to her baby bump, “how many patients am I?” The answer is one.

“In a trauma situation I am only one patient because anything that happens to mom happens to baby,” Smith said. “If you fight to survive and save mom this baby has a fighting chance.”

Benson said there are many things to consider when on a call for childbirth.

“Childbirth can be very emotionally difficult, and unfortunately there are times when the child is stillborn. What does that do to the mom? The dad? To the other siblings that are there and what’s it doing to the responders,” he said, explaining some of the things firefighters must take into account when on such calls.

The training happened to fall during National EMS week held May 21 to May 27.