Photos by Rome City Schools

If seeing is believing, then a group of Rome Middle School seventh-grade students can literally picture themselves in the driver’s seat of a rescue vehicle or saving a life in the rear of an ambulance.

By offering the students in her Healthcare Science classes the chance to get hands-on with the tools used by professionals with the Rome/ Floyd County Emergency Management Agency, Lauren Pritchard hoped to inspire tomorrow’s team of first responders.

Several members of the Rome/Floyd Fire Department and two Emergency Medical Technicians from Floyd Medical Center parked their vehicles on the bus ramp just outside the school doors. Students were allowed to ask questions, climb inside the vehicles and put on some of the equipment used by our community members tasked with saving lives in an emergency situation.

“We are now in our emergency services unit for seventh grade,” said Pritchard, “and we can talk about what working in this field is like all day long, but being able to see, touch and be inside one of these emergency vehicles makes a huge difference. They are able to understand the work a lot better than if we were to just discuss it in class.”

Pritchard went on to express the strength of the partnership between the school system and Floyd Medical Center (FMC). After contacting Chris Butler, Director of Corporate Health for FMC, Pritchard was able to get in touch with Floyd EMS and our local fire department’s education center.

“Unfortunately, because of the weather, we were not able to get the Life Flight Helicopter here today, but we have another event scheduled for the spring where we hope to have their helicopter visit our campus,” Pritchard said.

Captain Philip Little, Corporal Daniel Dowdy and Firefighter Kyle Ashley fielded questions about the fire department’s role in responding to emergencies, while EMT Desiree Hartmann and AEMT Morgan Bollen gave middle school students the ins and outs of their ambulance. What the students soon understood was that these agencies work very closely together to coordinate the best emergency plan, and they depend on each other to offer the fastest response and safest procedures for the citizens of Rome and Floyd County.

“We have a squad truck here today and we use it to respond to fires, medical calls and car accidents,” said Capt. Little. “This vehicle houses a lot of our rescue equipment. We have two of these trucks in the county and we also employ a heavy rescue truck for specialized rescue response. We actually have an EMT on this truck at all times, so it is similar to an ambulance in that we carry much of the equipment you will find in an ambulance. We just do not have the ability to transport people.”

Capt. Little works with the new recruits, and specializes in training and continuing education for the fire department. So, education is an area he stresses and meeting with the children for an afternoon was something he said was well worth his time.

“I remember seeing someone helping in an ambulance and I said to myself that I wanted to work there one day,” said Hartmann. “So, seeing what we do on such a personal level will help them to determine their path and that is why this day is important.”

“I wanted to let them know what would be required of them to become a fire fighter and tell them about the importance of education. Learning does not stop at high school. Most of our guys who ride on the squad truck are also EMTs. That is a year of training, and to become a paramedic it takes another year of training. So, that is two years total for many of our guys. The main thing I want them to know is that getting a great foundation will help them in the future if they plan to work with either of these two specialized fields,” Capt. Little said.

“I know that when I was a kid, I was scared of an ambulance,” said Morgan Bollen, an AEMT with Floyd, “so when something bad does happen we want them to know that not everyone who needs our help is dying. It helps them to become familiar with the vehicle and see what we do on a daily basis.”

Desiree Hartmann, a Floyd EMT, was explaining to the students that they can even deliver a baby in the back of an ambulance. So, even though it is an emergency situation, death is not always the end result.

“This work is very rewarding because we focus on saving lives,” Bollen smiled. “I really wish they had a program like this when I was in middle school because I would have decided to start my career earlier. I love to come to work because I love what I do.”

Hartmann echoed Bollen when talking about the reasons why they are in the business of saving lives. “I remember seeing someone helping in an ambulance and I said to myself that I wanted to work there one day,” said Hartmann. “So, seeing what we do on such a personal level will help them to determine their path and that is why this day is important.”