Des Moines Firefighter Recruits Put Paramedic Skills to the Test

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DES MOINES, Iowa - The injured man surrounded by pool of blood in the garage at the Des Moines Fire Department Thursday may have been a shocking sight - but everyone in attendance knew it wasn't real.

"Today is kind of, I mean, we could call it a dress rehearsal," said Scott Richard, EMS Education Faculty with DMACC.

Thursday the newest DMFD recruits put their paramedic skills to the test in active scenarios - something they have to do in order to join the force.

"These guys are doing actually kind of an accelerated program compared to what normal paramedic students go through," Richard said.

With Woodward Academy students acting as injured civilians, they're treating today's scenarios like the real deal.

"I think the best thing I try to do is try to remain as calm as possible," said Trey Morse, a recruit. "If I remain calm, the rest of the team will remain calm and I'll be able to kind of relax and make clear and quick decisions."

In Thursday's simulation, these recruits got a little back-up from the LifeFlight helicopter at UnityPoint Health; when they're sworn in on the force in January, they'll get even more back-up  with 13 more firefighters. A federal grant funding the 13 new positions was approved by the Des Moines City Council Wednesday night.

"This is great news for us," said Des Moines Fire Chief John TeKippe. "We, you know, from 2008 to 2012, we had a lot of budget reductions and that put a real strain on being able to keep things in service. Getting up to 295 will allow us to have our apparatus in service everyday and that's pretty exciting."

Until that back-up arrives, the department prepares to welcome these current recruits to the force - but only after they pass this paramedic challenge.

"A lot of credit to these guys and the Des Moines Fire Department, because they wear many hats," Richard said.