Southern Utah search and rescue crews to train as EMTs

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Utah - Search and rescue crews in Southern Utah are “upping” their medical game through training as EMTs.

Search and rescue coordinators say the move is part of an effort to provide life-saving treatment to injured hikers faster. The Washington County Sheriff’s Office received a Rapid Response medical from the Utah Department of Health in October 2014. SAR liaison Darrell Cashin said they’re planning classes in the coming month to get volunteers trained.

“We already had a core of medical experience there,” Cashin said. “We are looking at expanding that.”

Cashin said the desire to train SAR volunteers as EMTs came from experiences of rescues where they felt they could have better assisted patients if that medical component had been there. Typically emergency medical services respond and coordinate medical efforts with Search and Rescue. Cashin said with emergency medical training, treatment can start as soon as they reach the patient.

“It was easier to take our personnel who already know how to rappel, and know how to dive and know how swift water and teach them EMS, than it was to take the EMS and teach them these other disciplines, some of which can take years to learn,” Cashin said.

The state license allows SAR volunteers to do life-saving interventions, things like stabilizing fractures, delivering medications and assessing vitals.

Local EMS providers didn’t want to comment specifically on search and rescue personnel taking on that role, but generally say any move to provide injured patients with faster care is a good thing.

Cashin said there is a fear of stepping on toes, but under the emergency response license there are procedures the team cannot perform, so a partnership will still exist.

Hikers FOX 13 spoke to Monday said it makes sense for rescuers to have those skills to treat individuals from the get go.

“If you were hurting, or you fell down, you would want them to know exactly what to do and what to look for,” said hiker Ashley Richan.