LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - The Lawton Fire Department graduated seven new firefighters from the LFD Fire Academy Friday at City Hall.
The newly-hired firefighters graduated with advanced emergency medical training, which was a new requirement this year. Lawton Fire Chief Dewayne Burk swore in the graduates and gave them their official badges and uniform pins.
LFD goes on around 10,000 calls a year, and approximately 65 percent of them are medical. This course is important because it's training these firefighters to begin life-saving procedures before even getting to the hospital.
While advanced EMT was optional before, every new hire is now required to have it. Lawton Firefighter Mitchell Brittain is one of the graduates, and he says one thing he really enjoyed learning was IV therapy.
"I mean, that's one of the most things we can do out there, is start IV's and give fluid," Brittain said. "Like normal saline, and stuff like that. So I mean, and it's fun. I mean you don't get to just sit there and just be the guy setting everything up and now you can actually be the one giving the IV."
Lawton Fire Deputy Training Officer Landon Hardin says part of their training includes clinicals, which put them out in the community to train in real situations.
"With the advanced EMT, there's a lot more clinical hours," Hardin said. "They have to actually go to an operating room and scrub in to an operating room and intubate under what we would consider ideal circumstances. These guys are going to be intubating in ditches, in flipped upside down cars. They're going to be doing this stuff in the worst possible conditions imaginable."
Hardin was Lawton's first paramedic hired to the fire department in 2006, and is now training others. Hardin says thanks to the management, the fire chiefs and the city, Lawton Fire can now provide the highest standard of care to the public.
"To deliver this kind of care out here on the street, it's going to save a lot of lives," Hardin said. "Versus what we have been doing. This is the new standard, and I love it."
Hardin credits LFD as being better, faster and stronger than ever, and he says he wouldn't trade them for anything.
"I would put my guys up against anybody in the state. We are the most aggressive fire department as far as and firefighting and medical in the state. And I'd welcome a challenge," Hardin said.
Great Plains Technology Center is the only place in Southwest Oklahoma offering the advanced training, and Lawton has welcomed departments in the area to train at the academy for about 20 years.
This year, four firefighters from surrounding departments graduated with the advanced EMT training. These new cadets will be out on the streets, 100 percent trained, in about 30 days.