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Palm Springs Fire Department ramping up training in anticipation of a busy Summer

As the temperatures continue to rise, local fire stations are gearing up to handle several heat-related medical calls on a daily basis. But whether it be a medical emergency, or a brush fire, departments are making sure their stations are ready for anything.

"I'd say probably 80 to 90% of our calls are gonna be medical calls," said Juan Fernandez, a Probationary Firefighter with the Palm Springs Fire Department. "So we're responding to the community, coming out, helping them from the littlest thing, to very serious events like traumas, car accidents, or even shootings."

Medical emergencies are what crews respond to most of the time, car accidents are the second most frequent, and fires are the least, making up only about five to fifteen percent of all calls.

"I think the movies and TV shows are always portray us either going nonstop to structure fires or rescues, but it's not always like that," said Tommy Ibarra, one of the younger firefighters with the department. "No matter the call, we have to make sure we're prepared. So we do a lot of training. Whenever we go to technical rescue, or vehicle rescue or we need to make sure we're honing in those skills all the time, whether it be company trainings like the one we're at today, or just doing your own studying on your own time.”

News Channel Three's Tori King went with Fire Captain and PIO Ronald Skyberg for a ride along on Wednesday, and during the 8-hour shift the crews responded to six back-to-back-to-back calls, several of them heat-related illnesses. One cardiac arrest patient had to be rushed to the hospital, but because of the life-saving work and quick reaction times, the patient made it to the hospital and will likely survive.

"Our firefighters arrived on scene, and we performed ALS measures and were actually able to get a pulse back," said Skyberg. "So now the patient has a pulse. And the next goal is is to get them to the hospital as quick as possible, so as soon as we arrive, the doctors and nurses that have all the tools and equipment necessary to provide adequate care for the patient for a prolonged period of time can do their job.”

According to the Palm Springs Fire Department, on any given day, one crew could respond to a dozen or more emergency calls in a shift, which is why they're spending extra hours doing additional training both in the classroom and in the field.

"When we show up to work, we check everything," said Wayne Seacrist, a Captain with the PSFD. "We check our safety gear, and make sure our apparatus is good to go and are safe. We do a lot of training. Also we have to maintain our station and run calls from a 9-1-1 call center."

And on top of their regular training, reserving time for the gym isn't a suggestion, its a must in order to insure they can handle any situation regardless of the conditions.

“The gear we were on calls for structure fires could be upwards of 50 pounds," said Nick Wood, a firefighter. "And then also, we run a lot of different types of calls here in Palm Springs. We have hiker rescues, vegetation fires, and a lot of the gear we carry on the fire engines and in the truck are pretty heavy. So it's important to have that good combination of the strength training and cardio as well.”

At the end of the day, firefighter say they are more than happy to serve the community on a daily basis, and get back home safely to their families.

"The shift isn't just 24-hours, it's 48-hours," said Skyberg." Sometimes we go 72-hours, 96-hours, 120-hours, you know, it all depends on our relief in the morning. While the public is sleeping, we're running calls, so at the end of the day, we appreciate you in the community and we're always committed to our community, but we are always looking forward to going home to our family."

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Tori King


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