Notebook Assignment- Final Report
Current report tells about the work placement that I undertook for two months during the summer. The work placement was conducted at the Park City Fire Department serving the Park City Fire District and Park City, Utah. The placement was undertaken as partial fulfillment of the paramedic module that I am taking at the University of Utah. It was a mandatory requirement for all undergraduate students and was aimed at equipping the students with necessary experience in their chosen field of specialization before they graduate. The work placement opportunity also gives the students a chance to integrate the theories learnt in the classroom into the real life.
The report will document my learning experiences at Park City Fire Department. It will provide the details on the knowledge and insights gained from the internship and give understanding on how they will influence my future career prospects. In addition it will give an extensive insight into Park City Fire Department, the organization where the training took place. The information provided will ensure that an assessment can be made of its relevancy in providing placement opportunities. In an effort to achieve it, the report will discuss the organizational structure of Park City Fire Department and its missions and goals. It will also discuss the represented programs and their effectiveness and try to show all the benefits to the community being served. The placement report will also attempt to list the skills that have been acquired during the placement and assess the growth that has taken place before and after the placement. Consequently, the report will reflect on future opportunities and the learning process. Lastly, the report will analyze the strengths and weaknesses of Park City Fire Department. The analysis will provide the information on the improvements that can take place in the department to enhance its efficiency and effectiveness of its services delivery.
Future Job Possibilities
- Skills, Knowledge and Insights
As mentioned above, I am a paramedic student attached to the Park City Fire Department. My major responsibilities during the internship period involved conducting emergency medical rescue operations and other health promotion assignments provided by my immediate supervisor. I operated as Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel member for two months that I interned at the Park City Fire Department. The internship provided me with a platform and opportunities to acquire knowledge, to find deep insights on paramedic services, to develop new skills and strengthen the ones I already possessed. The most important skill that I developed and enhanced is the patient assessment skill. For instance, I had extensive practice on airway and breathing assessment techniques. Such activity entailed strengthening skills with regards to basic airway maneuver, supplemental oxygen therapy, positive pressure ventilation, and manually-triggered ventilators among others (PCFD, 2015). The airway and breathing techniques knowledge is extremely vital, since a high percentage of the rescue operations involved tendering to patients who have been rescued from burning structures and inhaled smoke. Apart from airway issues, other skills and knowledge acquired related to monitoring of blood glucose, pharmacological skills, including intravenous fluid therapy and assisted complicated delivery (PCFD, 2015). Moreover, I acquired firefighting equipment use and maintenance skills. Prior to my undertaking of the work placement I only had a little knowledge on how to operate the equipment. The attachment gave me an opportunity to learn how to operate the hose, nozzle and how to extinguish fire and give fire-related first aid.
Besides the patient assessment knowledge and skills, I also acquired team work skills from the collaborative interventions that I participated in designing. Paramedics do not act in isolation even as they perform health emergency services. In fact, the majority of the emergency operations involve an integrated approach to care through interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary team efforts. I worked with firefighters, social workers, physicians, fellow paramedics, and other professionals. During the attachment period, I spent two weeks deputizing as a head of paramedics for the unit located at fire station 2. The period gave me an opportunity to further develop my leadership skills. I have always thought of myself as a leader since I like taking initiatives. The opportunity to lead the EMS for two weeks motivated me to become aggressive in developing leadership skills. During the attachment period I was also given administrative and clerical roles. I had to write weekly reports summarizing the activities that were undertaken by the paramedics. I had already acquired such skills before my admission for work placement but I feel that their appropriation further developed and enhanced them.
- Required Training
Qualifying as entry-level staff member in the Park City Fire Department requires minimal training depending on the purpose one pursues. There are many professionals that work in the organization. For instance, there are administrators, clerical staff, emergency service personnel, and firefighters who form the majority of the staff. Each profession has its own training requirements. In my instance, for one to become a paramedic for Park City Fire Department, he/she must at least have an Emergency Medical Technician certification. However, obtaining such certification shows that a participant possesses minimum qualification. Normally, fire departments prefer certified EMS employees and paramedics having graduated from a paramedic school. Park City Fire Department further requires one to have CPR training. Firefighting and other emergency responses require a person to be in good physical condition (Hewitt, 2015). Crucially, the recruits must undertake basic firefighting training before assuming any roles in the organization. With such training, there are much more opportunities for a participant. For instance, one can participate as a volunteer paramedic. In addition, there are EMT and firefighters employment opportunities. Currently, Park City Fire Department employs 81 fulltime firefighters and paramedics and 12 administrators distributed across 7 fire stations (Hewitt, 2015). Still, it requires additional 30 employees to operate at optimal capacity. Being in the setup, provides you with the promotion opportunity in the organization to a lieutenant, captain, battalion chief, fire marshal and ultimately a fire chief.
- Summary of Responsibilities
My major responsibility during the work placement was providing paramedics rescue services through responding to emergency calls. The rescue services may be medical or non-medical related. The common medical-related rescue operations that I performed included responding to incidents concerning cardiac arrest, allergic reactions, diabetic problems, traffic accidents, sports injuries, and many other illnesses. My duty was to offer immediate primary care to preserve life before transferring the injured people to nurses and physicians in health care institutions to restore their health. Apart from the medical related responsibilities, I was also tasked with other non-medical related projects. For instance, I had to instruct CPR training, accompany fire investigators to assess gas leaks and chemical leaks and offer EMT training to the nearby Park City High School students.
- Evaluation of the Experience
I reckon the work placement presented me with an opportunity to employ the theory I had learnt in class in the real life. Hence, I will have more confidence in my practice as a paramedic in the future as the simulations and the real life responses gave me the required experiences. Crucially, I am confident that the various training activities I undertook during the period have improved my abilities. Consequently, not only my competencies but also my job prospects have improved. With such experience, I consider continuing of my studies in the near future and specialize in one of the Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) fields.
Park City Fire Department Administration
- Organizational Chart
The Park City Fire Department organizational structure resembles the standard fire district setup. PCFD is headed by a fire chief. A deputy chief assists the fire chief with the overall administrative duties. The deputy chief heads five divisions: the fire suppression division, the prevention and investigation division, the training division, the maintenance division and the administrative division (Hewitt, 2015). The fire suppression division is the largest one. It houses firefighters, paramedics and many other specialists. The fire suppression unit is headed by a superintendent who is directly responsible for the platoons and fire stations. PCFD has seven fire stations, including a volunteer fire company ruled by the battalion chiefs assisted by captains (Hewitt, 2015). The captains are assisted by lieutenants who are directly responsible for the paramedics and firefighters below them. The organizational chart comprehensively illustrating the PCFD’s organizational structure has been attached in the appendix section.
Park City Fire Department is funded through multiple means and avenues. Its major source of revenue is property tax. It amounted to US $11,120,538 in the 2014 financial year (Hewitt, 2015). Another major source of funding is through charging fees for emergency services, wood chipping services and other requested trainings that are not offered on a voluntary basis by the department. The other sources of funding for PCFD include interest income, capital assets sales, fee-in-lieu and other business-related income (Hewitt, 2015). In addition, PCFD receives funding through grants from the state and federal government and donations from private and corporate well-wishers.
- Job Description
Different agency positions have different job descriptions. For instance, the fire chief is responsible for the overall executive leadership of PCFD. His job description involves designing strategic plans for the department, ensuring good client relations through representing the organization appropriately, undertaking quality assurance operations, and handling internal affair issues. The deputy chief, on the other hand, acts as the chief of operations. He is responsible for everyday department’s operations performance. The deputy chief’s job description entails policy management, planning, heading special operations, overall incident command, and handling strategic administrative matters. During my work placement, I operated in the fire suppression and the training division. The duties of the superintendent of the fire suppression division entailed heading fire suppression interventions, rescue operations, hazardous material control, medical first response, and other professional services. The responsibilities of the EMS officer heading the training division entailed designing minimum professional qualification standards, standards of operations, in-service training programs, the training curriculum and recruiting paramedics.
- In-Service Training
PCFD conducts regular training for its employees to keep them in good physical and mental shape and to keep them aware of the best practices in emergency service delivery. In 2014, for instance, PCFD organized a wild fire training program and a basement fire training program to enhance its officer’s effectiveness in firefighting (Hewitt, 2015). It also offered natural gas emergencies training to further demonstrate safety procedures when dealing with potentially harmful gas leaks. The other training offered included SCBA confidence course, rapid intervention, Mass Casualty Incidence (MCI) training, riding of quick response motorcycles, and using Thermal Imager Camera (TIC) (Hewitt, 2015). Moreover, the employees regularly received extensive training considering medical issues, especially in the field of pharmacology to better understand the effects of on-scene treatments. Furthermore, those in the leadership positions were also offered a chance to enhance their leadership skills through an officer development training program (Hewitt, 2015). It is now a prerequisite for any promotion application.
- Public Relations and Advertisement
PCFD performs many public relations activities and advertisements to enhance its good standing in the society as a corporate citizen and increase awareness of possible threats. PCFD makes an effort to enhance good neighborliness within the fire district boundaries. PCFD hosts variety of public safety fairs, attend neighborhood meetings, as well as participates and contributes in non-profit fundraising (Hewitt, 2015). A positive reputation enables PCFD to attract more grants and donations to facilitate its operations. In addition, it places advertisements in the local radio stations and newspapers for its chargeable emergency services and other special operations, such as wood chipping (PCFD, 2013). It also undertakes public relations through a number of corporate social responsibility (CSR) functions and regular communication via a PCFD bulletin. PCFD conducts monthly CPR and First Aid classes in the community (Hewitt, 2015). At times, Emergency Cardiac Care (ECC) is also involved in the activities. Moreover, PCFD offers EMT training in Park City High School for free as a way of educating the community (Hewitt, 2015). As an active corporate citizen, PCFD participates in the safety and emergency affairs of the Park City community. PCFD is represented in a number of local, regional and state committees and organizations. They include the School District Safety Committee, the Summit County EMS Council, and the Local Emergency Planning Committee among others (Hewitt, 2015; PCFD, 2013).
Agency Program and Services
- Purpose of the Agency
PCFD exists to preserve the quality of life and conserve the environment and improve the economy through excellent service delivery. Its purpose is to design interventions that promote health and safety of the community members (PCFD, 2013). Fire suppression services, for instance, are offered to protect citizens from accidental loss of life and property through fires. The services go beyond reactionary interventions. There are many proactive programs, such as building safety investigation, gas leaks investigations, CPR and First Aid training among others. Its overall purpose is to make a difference in the community through life preservation (Hewitt, 2015).
- Agency Goals
PCFD has a strategic plan that describes the goals of the organization. The strategic plan is reviewed after every two years on a regular basis. Current goals of PCFD are clustered in form of initiatives, where each has specific objectives. According to the PCFD strategic plan (2013), current goals include:
- To enhance communication with and involvement in the Park City Community;
- To recruit and retain qualified membership;
- To recognize and appreciate the agency members;
- To enhance the department’s professionalism, dedication, accountability and customer service;
- To enhance pursuing of fire prevention and fire protection;
- To maintain operation readiness and efficiency of response.
As stated above, each goal has its outlined tactics that will ensure its achievement.
- Clients Served
PCFD annually serves an approximated population of 32,000 residents in addition to over 4 million visitors who occasionally come to Park City and its environs (Hewitt, 2015). In total, PCFD serves an upward of 110 square miles consisting of commercial, residential and wild land zones. Its paid-for services are offered even beyond the Park City Fire District boundaries. In terms of activities, PCFD also serves many clients. For instance, it serves those who make distress calls for fire extinguishing services. It also serves accident victims of traffics, natural accidents or sports. Moreover, it serves the general community in terms of offering CSR services, such as free EMT and First Aid training (Hewitt, 2015). Its wood chipping and fuel conservation services are offered for free to every community member within the fire district boundaries, provided that there are no large piles of materials or the community members have additional requirements. In such case they are obliged to pay US $100 (Hewitt, 2015).
- Types of Programs Offered
PCFD offers a variety of programs. They include:
- Patient assessment programs- They include EMS services, first aid and other activities that are meant to preserve life. They cover a number of health interventions, including airway and breathing, blood control, medical care, trauma care, and pharmacological interventions.
- Equipment maintenance programs- Such programs are meant to ensure that equipment is functioning properly. The agency does not only maintain its own equipment but also the one belonging to the community members, in some instances at a fee depending on the case at hand (Hewitt, 2015).
- Wood chipping and fuel reduction programs- As explained earlier, PCFD takes appointments and offers wood chipping and fuel reduction services for free except where there is a large pile of materials or a request for additional services.
- Volunteer programs- PCFD offers the community members who want to volunteer as fire fighters, paramedics or any other capacity to do it. The community members receive the opportunity to accumulate experience and self-gratification through volunteering, while PCFD manages to reduce shortages in the workforce cost-effectively.
- Training programs- Apart from training programs for in-service regular employees, PCFD also offers CPR, EMT, First Aid training, and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) certification trainings among others to the general community (Hewitt, 2015).
- Safety, prevention and disaster management programs- PCFD conducts frequent safety programs to ensure that the community is safe from experiencing a disaster. The programs include project structure inspections, fire and life safety inspections, fire protection system reviews, and gas leaks inspections among others.
Effectiveness of Programming
The programs performed by PCFD have had immense positive effect on the Park City Community. They have enhanced life and property preservation. For instance, cases of residential fires have steadily been on the decrease since 2012. In 2014 there were only 54 fire incidents (Hewitt, 2015). In fact, all the non-medical hazards made approximately 40.4% of the emergency responses conducted. The remaining 59.6% of the responses related to individual health EMS responses, which could not possibly be mitigated (Hewitt, 2015).
The major strength of the agency, in my opinion, is that it is self-sufficient. It has very many interventions that cater for almost all the needs of community without necessarily having to involve the other fire departments. It is well-equipped to carry out the aforementioned programs aimed at fire suppression and education of community. Its collaboration with the community is also very valuable. The goodwill and legitimacy it derives have ensures that it is properly funded which in turn has enabled it to carry out its mandate effectively and efficiently. It also has a motivated and competent workforce, appropriates current technology and is constantly conducting research and development to employ industry’s best practices (PCFD, 2013). The community training programs it provides have greatly helped in mitigating the adverse effects of unfortunate occurrence. It has made PCFD’s work much easier. Its provision of internship and attachment opportunities makes PCFD an excellent institution that cares about competencies and improvement of the society.
One of PCFD’s major weaknesses is that it is understaffed. It requires additional staff members, especially in the EMS sub-division in order to be effective. Another weakness, with regards to my case, is that it is a very large organization. An intern is not afforded personal attention that is essential to ensure optimal learning. It is caused by the fact that the majority of employees, as well as the intern supervisors are mostly busy. The last major disadvantage is that PCFD has a weak relationship with the local law enforcement agency (Hewitt, 2015). With the increased cases of mass shootings, PCFD needs to enhance its collaboration efforts with the police. Such collaboration would enable the identification, location, treatment, and extrication of patients from the places of ongoing incidents with ease. Without such cooperation both PCFD and the police would be ill-prepared to address such issues, in case they occur in the area.