Riverside Fire Department A day in the life of a firefighter/paramedic

By: Emily Kronenberger

Have you ever stopped to think what those who are civil servants actual do for a living? What they go through day by day? This will be a small glimpse of what life is like as a firefighter/paramedic. I can personally tell you the family aspect of the life as I am a daughter of a firefighter/paramedic. But their life is so much more than just the family, it's their life and their job.

Empty cot, in Medic 5, at Riverside Fire Department on Harshman Rd.

As any firefighter/paramedic will tell you, the goal at the end of the day is for this bed to be empty as much as possible. It sits in the back of the medic for hours on end, waiting for the next call for help as paramedics save a life. 

Making sure the main engine and reserve engine are up to standards.

As the day begins bright and early, members of the Riverside Fire Department check each and every piece of equipment. The crew checks to make sure each and every hose/hose line works, the jaws of life, the doors still latch, the fans still spin, and the lights and sirens go off.

Lt. Matt Ledford and FF/EMT Wyatt Myers check the various items on Engine 5.

As the engine checks continue, Ledford and Myers makes sure the fans are running, axes are sharp and in their proper places, and each door in secure. Myers is a young Firefighter/EMT basic that continues to learn from the veteran, Ledford, to make sure he keeps those in danger, alive. Ledford is a career firefighter and paramedic.

Myers doing Medic 5 checks.

Wyatt Myers checking Medic 5 at the start of the day. The binder he is holding has a series of lists that the crew has to check off at the start of the day. The machine that is picture is called the Lifepack 15 EKG monitor. It has the ability to send a 12 lead EKG to the hospital of choice. This gives the ability for the nurses and doctors on staff a head start on the patient before they even make it through the door. The various wires are for EKG reads, temperature, blood pressure, etc.

The back of the medic is fully stocked with all sorts of various medical equipment to save a life.

FF/EMT Myers and FF/Paramedic Edward Kronenberger check the various medical bags. The bag that Kronenberger is holding on the right is a medical bag that contains two vials of D50 that contain 25 grams of dextrose (sugar water) each with a needle and syringe, plus instant glucose (oral sugar paste in a tube). These are used when a patient is low on blood sugar. You can also see the Lifepack 15 EKG monitor to the left hand side. Right behind Kronenberger, there is a box. That box is a hazardous box for those needles that have been used and are ready to be disposed. The cabinet that the FFs/EMTs/Paramedics have opened is the supply cabinet. It contains all the drugs, needles, band aids, etc for the day. When any of those supplies are used during a call, the hospital will make sure the paramedics have a new bag fully stocked with the supplies they need. Kronenberger is a 30 plus year veteran of the job. He started his work in 1984 as a volunteer and obtained his degree and paramedics license. He is a good full time firefighter/paramedic for Myers to learn from. Myers' father is also a Firefighter/paramedic for the city of Dayton.

FF/Paramedic Edward Kronenberger of Riverside Fire Department checks the backup Medic.

It is always important to check the backup equipment. FF/Paramedic Kronenberger is currently on Medic 105, the backup medic. If the medic that is currently in service goes out on a medical emergency and there is another medical emergency in that district, the other medic will go on that call if there are at least two people at the station that can man the backup medic. If there is not anyone to man the backup medic, then they will call for mutual aid from a neighboring district.

Just this one bag can saves many lives.

Naloxone is the technical term for Narcan. All of us know of the current heroin epidemic. Narcan is used to block or reverse the effects of opioid medication, including extreme drowsiness, slowed breathing, or loss of consciousness. An opioid is sometimes called a narcotic. Narcan is is also used to treat a narcotic overdose in an emergency. This bag contains if someone lives, or someone dies. But even then, it isn't always enough. In the current time, the heroin epidemic is running out of control. Heroin is being laced with fentanyl. Fentanyl is a controlled substance that is supposed to treat severe pain, but it is at high risk for addiction and dependence. It can cause respiratory distress and death when taken in high doses or when combined with other substances, especially alcohol. When heroin is laced with fentanyl, the fentanyl latches itself to the receptors in your body causing one to overdose. The narcan is designed to make the fentanyl release itself from the receptors for a period of time till the paramedics take the patient to the hospital to continue the proper treatments. After a few hour, the narcan will release itself from those receptors and the fentanyl will latch itself back onto the receptors causing the patient to potentially overdose again. One major problem is that once the patient is revived, they can refuse to be taken to the hospital. Narcan is only a temporary fix for the bigger issue. Unfortunately, firefighter/paramedics see the bulk of the worst parts of overdoses, and no one can really know what it is like for them. This simple bag comes between life or death for a patient.

The newest addition to the squad.

When the crew gets a more serious call, both the engine and medic crews respond. Riverside Fire Department was lucky enough at the end of last year to get two new state of the art fire engines. The older ones are now the reserve engines and the oldest ones were purchased from smaller departments across the United States.

FF/Paramedic Ryan Boone and FF/EMT Nick Page respond to a call in Northern Riverside

Boone and Page get the cot off the medic for a patient that is having trouble breathing. Being swift and alert is always the best thing to do in situations that can cause the adrenaline to rush.

Patient has been in current kidney failure.

FF/Paramedic Boone is taking the proper steps to administer an IV to the patient who was having trouble breathing. The patient was complaining of slowness of breath and some chest pains.

FF/Paramedic Kronenberger placing the needle in a patient's arm

On this particular call, the patient had just got out of the hospital that morning with an allergic reaction. When we pulled up, the patient was showing signs of another allergic reaction. The patient was sitting on the front stooped, extremely red and having shortness of breath. This picture depicts what Kronenberger has to do in order to administer the medication to help the patient breathe. Kronenberger and Myers administered two epi-pens in either leg to slow down the allergic reaction prior to this picture being taken.

FF/Paramedic Kronenberger gloved up and ready to administer medication.

FF/Paramedic Kronenberger administers Benadryl in the syringe to put through the needle in the patient's arm to help the patient to calm down and be able to breathe normally. On serious calls, Kronenberger flips his ball cap on backwards so he has a clearer vision on what he is currently doing and makes sure he can save a life in the proper manner.

"The best day on the job is where we don't have to answer any alarms. The worst day on the job is when we never see the station, because we are answering alarm after alarm but that is what we are here for. If its only to save one life," Kronenberger says, "And I wasn't the one who chose this job for myself. It was something much, much greater. HE chose it for me."

Words cannot express what each and every member of the Riverside Fire Department goes through day by day. One can only describe or try to explain what they do each and every day. Some days are harder than others. Some days they might be watching an elderly take their last breath or responding to a 19 year old who overdosed on heroin. Other days there is a house on fire with a family trapped or a baby who is turning blue because they can't breathe. We owe a lot to our civil servants, especially firefighter/paramedics. They do not get the recognition enough for all that they do. I hope this project gives you a glimpse of their life. Being the child of a firefighter/paramedic has its ups and downs. I have dealt with my dad sacrificing time with his family, as well as all the other men and women on the department, to save the lives of people he doesn't know. He has missed soccer, basketball, and volleyball games, plays, open houses, etc. all for the love of the job. There are times when he has been very clingy to us because of certain calls he might have went on that has been around our age group. But I am seriously the proudest daughter in the entire world. The Riverside Fire Department is like one big family. I have grown up with an extra set of brothers and sisters and family. I would not trade my dad's career for anything. I know this project was not supposed to be about family, but honestly, the Riverside Fire Department is my family. Please consider what they go through consistently, day by day. They are the strongest people I know and sometimes they have to put up a strong front. God Bless those who keep us safe.

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