BIA Wildland Fire First Aid Project
During wildland fire incidents, there are two medical support needs Indian Country needs to provide to firefighters. The first is to have emergency medical systems (EMS) responders provide initial care, and if necessary, to safely transport patients to facilities where definitive care can be given. The second is to provide Indian Country employees adequate first aid training suitable for their wildland work environment.
To accomplish this, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Branch of Wildland Fire Management is testing a Wilderness Medicine Curriculum designed for non-medical professionals, such as wildland firefighters. The endeavor is known as the “Wildland Fire First Aid Project.”
The focus of this training is to provide wildland firefighters with the skills to help them manage complex logistical medical transports, respond to prolonged patient care, mitigate extreme environmental conditions, identify and use improvised equipment and how to interface with local EMS responders. It does not replace State licensed EMS personnel who respond to Wildland fires; nor create a “responder” Wilderness Medical qualification, which is not recognized within the State EMS medical “responder” structure.
With the help of a physician advisor, and in accordance with industry best practices, first aid guidelines & protocols have been approved by Bureau leadership. These protocals give Indian Country wildland fire employees the authority to operate within their scope of practice and receive training to help them prepare for wildland medical situations.
The Project is in year two of its testing phase. In its first year, the Project certified 45 Wilderness First Responders (WFR). As part of their training, they received a medical kit to carry as part of their standard issue supplies. Additionally, formal fire crews were issued a large stabilization and transport medical kit intended to be carried when assigned to an incident. Approximately 75 students are slotted to complete training in 2013.
BIA will host an eight-hour wilderness based curriculum first aid class and a two-hour CPR, AED and BBP class starting in April 2013. These classes will comply with OSHA requirements and incorporate wildland fire/ all hazard incident management terminology and process into the curriculum.
Long term goals of this program include the development of NWCG training courses that provides a formalized mechanism that requires all firefighters have the basic knowledge, skills and abilities of wilderness first aid.
For more information and to request nomination forms for future Wilderness First Aid classes, contact Course Coordinator, Michelle Moore, at (208)-387-5811, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Policy Supporting BIA Wildland Fire First Aid Project:
- BIA Safety and Heath Handbook (page 11) OSHA CFR 1910.151(b) states, "In the absence of an infirmary, clinic, or hospital in near proximity to the workplace which is used for the treatment of all injured employees, a person or persons shall be adequately trained to render first aid. Adequate first aid supplies should be readily available."
- OSHA Best practices guide fundamentals of a workplace first aid program defines “First aid is emergency care provided for injury or sudden illness before emergency medical treatment is available. The first-aid provider in the workplace is someone who is trained in the delivery of initial medical emergency procedures, using a limited amount of equipment to perform a primary assessment and intervention while awaiting arrival of EMS personnel.”
- 2011 BIA Blue Book Chapter 9 page 20 “Medical emergency response is not a function of Wildland fire suppression resources,” Wildland firefighters are not trained and equipped to perform emergency medical response duties and should not be a part of a pre-planned response that requires these duties. When Wildland firefighters encounter emergency medical response situations, their effort should be limited to immediate care (e.g. first aid, first responder actions they are trained and qualified to perform).”