In July, the Oklahoma State Legislature allocated $400,000 to state career technology centers for training Oklahoma volunteer firefighters. Of that amount, Pontotoc Technology Center received $12,500 to help train volunteer firefighters in first response and wildland fires.

First response training is vital because volunteer firefighters are often the first to arrive at emergency situations in rural areas of Pontotoc County. Volunteer firefighters don’t just respond to fires. When vehicle accidents, medical problems, or natural disasters occur in rural areas, in some cases, volunteer firefighters are closer than city emergency responders.

First responder training consists of CPR and first aid for various injuries from minor to severe, stabilizing the victim and controlling bleeding. First responders are taught to a level just under Emergency Medical Technician Paramedic.

Bennie Cope, Fire Safety Coordinator at Pontotoc Technology Center, said in the past many volunteer firefighters had to pay for their own training.

“These people volunteer to help those in need, they shouldn’t have to pay for training,” Cope said.

Oil Center Volunteer Fire Captain Marty Duncan said 50 percent of their firefighters are medical first responder trained.

“When a call goes out and someone in a rural area needs an ambulance for a possible heart attack, a bad accident on a farm or vehicle accident, they also call volunteer firefighters to assist and give life saving care to patients until EMS can get them to a hospital,” Duncan said.

Duncan said Oklahoma State Senator Susan Paddack was very instrumental in getting the funds allocated.

“In my opinion, if it hadn’t been for Sen. Paddack, I don’t think it would have come together as well as it did,” Duncan said.

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