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Corpus Christi fire cadets: how learning has changed during the pandemic

CCFD combat fire with low water pressure
Posted at 10:51 AM, Apr 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-14 20:43:27-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — In the age of the pandemic, future first responders may still be training to be on the frontlines; yet at the same time, the way they’re learning parts of the job is changing.

As the latest class of Corpus Christi Fire Department cadets practice their skills trying to save a life, it’s a race against time when every second counts.

In a simulated drill, the cadets work as quickly as they can as the so-called patient goes into cardiac arrest.

It’s all part of Del Mar College’s E.M.S. program where cadets spend a year training to be both firefighters and paramedics. Training for both has changed since the pandemic began.

“We're gowning up, wearing goggles, making sure that we are safe,” Samuel Dean, one of the cadets told us about how part of the curriculum has changed. “We've got to make sure we're safe and all the guys are safe.”

"We are kind of at more of a distance when we are required to be as close as possible to take care of this person,” fellow cadet Kevin Dawson told us.

Maintaining proper social distancing may sound difficult in this line of work but it’s just one more safety protocol.

Program director Melissa Stuvie oversees paramedic training.

"There are some procedures not being done because of the Covid,” Stuvie told us and that includes some procedures involving a person's respiratory system.

"Some of the patients in the field are not getting the nebulized treatments like we normally would for respiratory patients and so they'll get it at the hospital,” Stuvie cited as an example. Procedures in which air can get through a patient's mask inside an ambulance is obviously not safe for frontline workers.

"Now I am the problem solver and I take that upon myself in every portion of my life,” Dawson said.

"When it comes to treating a patient, somebody's got to do it and we are still going to go in and treat that patient as best we can,” Dean said.

When they find themselves in a situation like this on a real patient, then their training pays off for everyone involved.