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Grant for Training Rural First Responders To Be Model for Nation
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Town of Walnut Fire Department Volunteer

First Responders in Mississippi's rural communities are gearing up for emergency communications training that will be a model for the nation. 

Mayor Vicki Skinner is a 25-year veteran of the Town of Walnut's Volunteer Fire Department. She's seen her share of wrecks at the intersection of Mississippi Highway 15 and 72.  Skinner says the department gets about 300 calls a year. The majority are accidents and medical calls.  Also their radio system is patched and needs repair. Skinner is looking forward to the training the University of Mississippi Medical Center is offering to rural first responders. 

"Any kind of training we can get that will benefit our community we want to get a hold of it," said Skinner.

A $2 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is funding the training.  Dr. Damon Darsey is with UMMC. He says its a pilot project that will merge Mississippi's state-of-the-art public safety radio system with their first responders training program called "First Hands." They want to enhance rural emergency communication. Darsey says it maybe a police officer who arrives at the scene first. Training non-medical professionals what questions to ask can say lives. 

"For instance, an elderly patient is in trauma. Asking them a couple of questions about on blood thinners. Are you on blood thinners. Are you not. Those are questions if determined early could be absolutely life-saving going down the line," said Darsey.

Dr. Damon Darsey says homeland security will use UMMC's research and training to improve the national emergency communication plan.