Life-saving skills class available

Published 12:00 pm Monday, February 22, 2016

Having the training to save a life is a valuable tool if an ambulance is 30 miles away or stuck in traffic.

Lafayette County Emergency Medical Service (LCEMS) has organized an Emergency Medical Responder class for the community, and the first meeting is Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Lafayette County Fire Department.

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The three-hour class is on Mondays and Thursdays from Feb. 29 through April 18, and students must pass tests throughout. The cost is $180, but if you agree to join LCEMS and be a responder for six months, the tuition will be paid.

“If you like to help people, this is a good way to do it,” said Bobby McCain, president of Lafayette County’s EMR group. “We have a lot of students who do it, and of course they’ll go on to med school. Most of us are old, but we’ve gotten a few young ones before. We have also saved people before.”

McCain said the certification is great to help family members in an emergency, if a business owner wants someone on site trained in first aid and life-saving procedures, for volunteer fire department members and also for those who live far away from a hospital.

“There are certain things we can’t do, but we can stabilize a patient before the ambulance gets there,” he said. “They are scattered around the county and respond. They get text messages from 911 with where to go and the nature of the call.

“You can get there before ambulances because you’re just a mile down the road. It takes ambulance almost 30 minutes to Harmontown, and about a third of our EMRs are from Harmontown.”

McCain said volunteer EMRs are also crucial for football game days.

“We do home football games,” he said. “They have ambulances around, but you just have to walk out in the Grove. We respond and set up at the Union out there. They call in and tell us where to go.”

Those who take the class, pass and agree to volunteer for six months will receive a jump kit — a bag that contains “just about everything you need to have basic life support,” McCain said.

The EMR group receives funding for the class, jump kits and more from a portion of every traffic ticket that goes into an EMSOF fund. The county’s board of supervisors authorized signing up to benefit from the fund and having the class, which will be taught by North Mississippi Emergency Medical Services out of Tupelo.

At least 15 must sign up for the course for teachers to come out of Tupelo, and volunteer EMR Doug Sullivan-Gonzalez said the skills learned are valuable.

“We do this twice, once each semester, to try to give members of the community and students at the university the chance to become EMRs,” Sullivan-Gonzalez said. “It’s so practical. You learn medical, trauma skills. You get a good working sense of what baselines are. You learn ambulance lingo. You learn bandaging, responding, what do to on a scene.”

Sullivan-Gonzalez said it’s important to build up the number of EMRs in the community.

“We have such an active group of university people that come in but they are only available nine months a year,” he said. “You have to keep the pool healthy and moving. The more the merrier.”



A new EMR orientation class will be held Wednesday at the Lafayette County Fire Department, 52 County Road 1032, at 6 p.m. Classes are Monday and Thursday from Feb. 29 through April 18. For more information, email