Every day, there are countless Hoosiers working around the clock to keep our communities safe. Each year around this time, we take a moment and set aside a week to honor our state’s emergency medical services (EMS) personnel; a group of selfless Hoosiers that encompass a wide range of professions including paramedics, police officers and firefighters to list a few.
While we all hope we never need assistance from one of these individuals, they remain vigilant in every community, 24 hours a day and seven days a week, just in case we do. Imagine for a moment that each day, as you prepare for work and say good-bye to your loved ones, you had to wonder if you would return home at the end of your shift. This is a daily reality for EMS workers and one that their families struggle with as well.
In honor of EMS Week, I wanted to share one way that the state of Indiana is looking out for our EMS workers, particularly our firefighters. For nearly 50 years, Indiana has been home to an academy which provides rigorous training to prepare law enforcement professionals for service. This statewide programming is beneficial to the officer so that he or she knows how to respond in emergency situations, but it is also beneficial to the average Hoosier who relies on their guidance during those same situations.
However, did you know that Indiana does not currently have a similar academy for firefighters? During session, we heard testimony from the Indiana Fire Chiefs Association which stated that, nationally, there are fewer fires today than in the past, but today’s fires burn hotter and faster due to the prevalence of petroleum products in our everyday lives.
As a result, fires often require several departments to combine resources and work together in order to put them out. At times, this posed certain challenges when multiple departments, who all have the same certification but received different training, would get called to the same fire. When lives are on the line and literally every second counts, cooperation between departments should be at its strongest, which is why a uniform training system is necessary.
The Indiana Law Enforcement Academy often uses volunteer instructors to teach recruits as well as established law enforcement officers. The Indiana State Fire Academy, which was created this session, will provide that same type of volunteer instruction for firefighters and would aim to provide consistent, high-quality training to firefighters regardless of what city or town they work in. While this adds a valuable layer of public safety for Hoosiers, it is also designed to decrease injury amongst firefighters and ensure they return home safely to their families.
Whether it is through providing life-saving services at the scene of an accident, saving our home from fire or keeping order at large events like the Final Four or Indy 500, life as we know it would not be possible without these selfless men and women. The debt that we owe them could never be repaid, but a simple act of gratitude goes a long way. Next time you are out in the community and you see one of these individuals, I encourage you to take a moment to say thank you.