By Janet M Kelly
A Miracle in the Mud
In 2020, a worker fell from his ladder and the pruning shears he was holding impaled his chest and went into his heart. His friends called 911. Firefighter/Paramedics Christian Casillas and Jeremy Cazares were on call that day. Both were full time probationary hires and trained in a variety of rescue techniques. What would they find when they got to the scene?
The worker was in the field. His friends had pulled the shears out of his chest so there was a open hole in his heart, pumping blood into his chest and onto the earth. Casillas and Cazares pulled the gurney into the field and got to work. They worked diligently to keep their patient alive while they waited for the life-saving rescue helicopter to arrive. When the Rescue RN and Paramedic arrived on the scene, all four medical professionals realized their patient would not survive the flight. They piled into the ambulance and the back became a mobile emergency room. They inserted chest tubes and administered life saving care to their desperately injured patient. Their training and clear thinking, as well as the patient’s will to survive, paid off. Despite overwhelming odds, multiple extensive surgeries and rehabilitation, the patient recovered. How was this miracle possible? Outside of Divine intervention, it was the training provided by the Kingsburg Fire Department.
Kingsburg Has an ALL-Hazards Approach
“Collectively the department members and I have undertaken a true ALL-Hazards approach to the new operational capabilities that we knew we needed to develop with the growth of our community,” Chief Daniel Perkins explained.
Chief Daniel Perkins came to Kingsburg Fire Department in 2019.Kingsburg wanted an outside perspective and Chief Perkins with his 37 years experience in community service and an advanced degree in Career Technology would be a great fit. He began by talking with community and fire department members to get a feel for Kingsburg’s needs. Then he developed three goals:
- To improve employee moral
- To stop employee turnover
- To become fiscally solvent
With Chief Perkins’ leadership, the Kingsburg Fire Department has become a professional unit. There are a variety of rescue considerations Kingsburg has to deal with that other rural or city rescue services don’t have to deal with.
- Kingsburg covers three counties: Fresno, Kings, and Tulare. Each county has different policies and procedures, and in Kingsburg there are addresses where the front yard is in Fresno County and the back yard is in Tulare County. Emergency services have to know how to handle the confusion.
- Kingsburg is rural and covers 135 square miles of territory; it may take hours to get a patient to an emergency room or doctor instead of mere minutes.
- Kingsburg has a variety of hazard potential.
- The Kings River can mean boating or recreational vehicle accidents as well as swift water rescue.
- Local industry and agriculture can mean mechanical accidents and confined space rescue and recovery.
- The freeway can mean hazardous material spills, motor vehicle extraction, and multiple car pile-ups due to foggy conditions.
- Agriculture can mean accidents, falls, and inadvertent toxic exposure.
An Enduring Commitment to Excellence and Community Safety
When Chief Perkins arrived in 2019 he assembled the department personnel. He explained, “We all sat down and discussed what we knew we needed to accomplish by utilizing a Hazard Assessment of the community and the region. From there a strategic plan was developed. We are now in the process of fleshing out that plan.”
- New hires have combination training as firefighters and paramedics.
- 85% of the department are ALS (Advanced Life Support) Certified.
- Department members are assigned to the California Regional Task Force 5 as a Paramedic Urban Search and Rescue Team based in Fresno.
- There is continuing training so the Firefighter/Paramedics are well prepared for whatever emergency may come their way. From vaccines to train derailments, the fire department is prepared for any emergency.
The fire department’s on-going commitment to solvency has paid off. Through Tri-County Health Grants and the 1% sales tax initiative, the Kingsburg Fire Department is on solid fiscal ground. When you pump gas, have you ever wondered why they ask for a zip code? That is because the tax collected will go to the area where you live. So even out of town or on-line shopping is helping fund Kingsburg’s fire department.
Chief Perkins and the Kingsburg Fire Department personnel have worked diligently to achieve the goals they decided upon. Their success has been noticed by others. Recently, the department was featured in the May/June edition of California State Firefighters’ Association’s “California Fire Service Magazine” which can be accessed at www.csfa.net.
Kingsburg’s Fire Department has been serving the community since 1912 and has provided safety to Kingsburg’s residents. Over the past few years the department’s quality has been taken to a whole new level. Our community can be proud of the actions taken over the decades and feel confident in the future. With the Kingsburg Fire Department on call, we are in good hands.