Cooper Landing Emergency Services Encourages Citizen Preparedness
By Jennifer Tarnacki
As Alaskans, we know how important it is to be prepared for snow, storms and extreme cold in order to survive and thrive. And as last months’ earthquake reminded us, planning for emergencies such as floods, earthquakes, or fires is also an important part of taking care of ourselves when living in small communities in Alaska.
Cooper Landing Emergency Services Department (CLES) will be offering winter and spring classes in emergency preparedness and would like to encourage residents of the area to volunteer to participate. An Emergency Trauma Technician training will be held late January, with an EMT-1 Bridge course in the works for later in the spring.
“It’s very important to the people that live in the area for our volunteers to be skilled and to keep this community and the visitors to the area safe,” explains CLES Operations Coordinator Colin Brayton. “We are trying to get more volunteers on board and skilled to help build up our response team.”
Alaska is one place that disaster and emergency preparedness is extremely important, and small communities such as Cooper Landing, and others along the Turnagain Arm could deeply benefit from a strong citizen force with knowledge of emergency response.
The department encourages Alaskans to be knowledgeable and prepared for any emergency, as well as train the next volunteer force of firefighters and EMTs. They offer volunteer firefighter trainings throughout the year and keep a Facebook page updating residents on road conditions and emergencies.
The Kenai Peninsula Borough, which formed the Eastern Peninsula Highway Emergency Service Area (EPHESA), has payments intended to support struggling emergency service providers to meet the increasing demands placed on small communities. CLES received one of these payments for the first time for their services rendered to the EPHESA. However, for a small agency more help and volunteers are needed to keep it robust and running efficiently.
“CLES is critically short of ambulance drivers,” Brayton explained on the CLES Facebook page. “Community members are needed to support our EMTs by taking turns in the schedule to be available to drive the ambulance. Please note that a Commercial Drivers License (CDL) is not required. CLES needs volunteers across its service spectrum. Please consider helping your neighbors as a Cooper Landing Emergency Services volunteer.”
Part of the department mission is in encouraging a community emergency response team. They offer training to the various groups of volunteers to keep them current on their skills, such as listening to lung sounds, doing webinars, fire behavior and demonstrating different techniques to perform in emergency medical situations.
From their Facebook page, “We are thankful to the community members that have recently stepped up to volunteer (Rachel Sullivan, Rachel Rolfe, Jillian Konopa, Jeremy Lewis, David Lundborg, and Jen Harpe) and to those that continue to dedicate their time.”
According to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Division of Public Health, there are three emergency response training levels in Alaska: ETT, EMT-1, EMT-2, EMT-3, and MICP (Mobile Intensive Care Paramedic). The certifications build upon basic emergency medical care in increasing responsibilities and skills. The ETT training, the first certification level, will be offered by CLES this winter.
ETT training is 40 hours in length and teaches the basics of emergency medical care. The course was first developed in Southeast Alaska for use in logging camps and can be modified to meet the particular needs of the community.
As an Emergency Trauma Technician, it is the ETTs job to responds to emergency calls to provide efficient and immediate care to the critically ill and injured. It’s the first step on the road to more intensive training.
Duties of an ETT include initial assessment and support treatment for life threatening conditions: opening and maintaining a clear airway, ventilating patients, performing CPR, controlling hemorrhage, obtaining a history and vital signs, protecting patient from environment, performing detailed or focused assessment, bandaging and dressing wounds, immobilizing fractures, managing respiratory, cardiac, diabetic, allergic, behavioral and environmental emergencies, treating suspected poisonings and administering oxygen.
From here, one can move on to the EMT-1 bridge training, which will be offered later in the spring through CLES. This course deepens and expands upon the medical knowledge taught in the ETT, with duties increasing to include higher standards of emergency care. The EMT provides basic life support such as splinting, hemorrhage control, oxygen therapy, suction, CPR and use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs). Under the direct or indirect authorization of a physician, an EMT-I may assist with the administration of the patient’s own epinephrine autoinjector, nitroglycerin, or handheld bronchodilator inhaler.
Another part of the CLES role in the community is spreading awareness. They keep their FB page updated with useful information for residents, such as proper hydration and emergency preparedness for families. It is a great resource to utilize, and we should be thankful for the continued efforts of CLES in keeping Cooper Landing residents aware, safe and prepared.
To learn more, visit the Cooper Landing Emergency Services Facebook page. To inquire about attending volunteer training contact Operations Coordinator Colin Brayton at (907) 595-1800.