‘What we are willing to do’: Davis will be BFD’s first paramedic

Published 9:00 am Saturday, May 27, 2023

He’ll be the Brookhaven Fire Department’s first-ever paramedic.

Lt. Chris Davis has been with the department since 2010. Prior to that, he was a trainer and manager of a local gym.

“A lot of the guys (from the fire department) used to come in the gym, and one of them told me I ought to put an application in,” Davis said, and he did. “It took two years to get hired, because nobody was retiring.”

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When he joined the fire department, he was 38 — older than most people who pursue that type of work for the first time.

“I was scared to death. I went to the Fire Academy with a bunch of 19 and 20-year-olds,” said Davis. “But it worked out great for me.”

In 2016, Davis completed training to become an EMT, an emergency medical technician. In 2022, he completed Advanced EMT training at the State Fire Academy. Now, he’s studying to be a paramedic, and will graduate in December. Regardless of what people may think, EMTs and paramedics are not the same.

“Basically, an EMT is a helper in the back of the ambulance,” Davis explained. “We can’t really give medicine. We learn skills from our paramedic, assist the paramedic, and we drive the ambulance. It’s above the term ‘first responder’ — we’re able to do certain things they are not.”

In the emergency medical services world, Davis explained, an EMR is a first responder, an emergency medical responder, like general volunteers in a county fire department. The training then advances to EMT, Advanced EMT, and paramedic.

“As an Advanced EMT, I can give certain meds, start IVs, etc., in order to better help in the situation,” Davis said.

His push to continue his medical training came from a desire to be more useful to his paramedic partner in the King’s Daughters Medical Center Ambulance Service, where he has also worked for seven years. He asked Fire Chief Jeff Ainsworth for permission to attend the classes at Copiah-Lincoln Community College, and Ainsworth agreed.

When the lieutenant completes the training just a couple of weeks before Christmas, he will have accomplished a historic milestone in the fire department.

“I will be the first paramedic for the department,” Davis said. “I am the first Advanced EMT for the fire department, and the only Advanced EMT for KDMC Ambulance Service at the moment. There have been others there before.”

In the ambulance service, Davis said he and a partner will be able to run full advanced life support, administer pain and cardiac medications — “Basically an ER in the back of an ambulance.”

Although the fire department does assist at times with medical issues, they do not respond to calls that are primarily medical.

“But I want to get as many skills as I can under my belt,” he said. “The fire service and medical kind of go hand-in-hand, because we do run the Jaws of Life, and could help out our other guys, like if someone gets injured in a house fire. Plus, I really enjoy the medical side.”

When he got his EMT training at Southwest Mississippi Community College, a couple more firefighters from the department trained with him. This time, his wife is side-by-side with him in the paramedic training.

“We do everything together, basically,” Davis said. “Tia also works on an ambulance, and has been with KDMC about 10 years. My wife had always wanted to do that. She had worked in wound care and got into EMT, then got me interested in it.”

The Wesson native and his wife live in Sontag, and are happy to serve in the Brookhaven area. He’s also grateful for the support from his wife and department.

“I feel privileged that Chief Ainsworth is allowing me to do this school,” he said.

He wants the average citizen to understand that the fire department is there, ready to go at a moment’s notice to help in structure fires, wrecks, and other emergency situations.

“Sometimes we wish some people could come ride with us every once in a while on a busy day and see what we do,” Davis said. “A lot of people think all we do is sit around, watch TV and eat, but we actually do a lot of training — We go to the Fire Academy every year and we get to pick two classes we can do there. There’s a lot of training. I think the public doesn’t realize that. We have PT tests twice a year; we have to stay in shape.”

After all, the men and women who serve in emergency services are not constantly in emergency situations — but they’re trained and ready to be at any time.

Davis summed it up succinctly — “We get paid for what we are willing to do and what we can do.”