Fire union head: Detroit hasn't provided CPR refresher training

Fire union head: Detroit hasn't provided CPR refresher training

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DETROIT (WJBK) -

"Can you say for sure that all of your fire fighters know CPR?" I asked Detroit Fire Fighters Association President Dan McNamara.

"No I cannot.  We originally were trained on it, but what I can say is we have not had the required refresher training," he answered.

A shocking and dangerous revelation -- lapses in life saving, critical training for Detroit city fire fighters.  McNamara says the city won't pay.

"We're mad as hell that we're not being able to give them the opportunity to do our jobs that we're supposed to be doing," McNamara told me.  "Our fire fighters are starting to write letters now to the commissioner requesting training."

At some point, all fire fighters were trained, but like most fields, if you don't use it, you lose it.

McNamara can't remember the last time some courses were offered.  He says he's repeatedly requested refresher courses in CPR, confined space rescue, rapid water rescue, icy water rescue and Hazmat training.

"Every taxpayer in every community pays for three or four levels of police service -- sheriff's deputies, state police, local police.  How many levels of EMS and fire are you paying for?  One," he said.

Tuesday, fire fighters worked tirelessly to save six-year-old Julio Chavez and his four-year-old brother, Mike.  The two were home alone when their house caught fire.

It's still under investigation, but sources say it could have been a mattress fire started by a candle.  Both boys were barely conscience.  No EMS was called to the scene because the initial call didn't indicate anyone was inside the house.  The fire crews transported the kids to the hospital.  Thankfully they knew CPR, but sadly six-year-old Julio did not survive.  Four-year-old Mike was listed in critical condition.

Detroit is one of the few cities in the country that doesn't automatically send EMS to dwelling fire or at least staff a fire truck with a paramedic.

"It's only when the system fails that that problem comes up to us," said McNamara.

"Did the system fail yesterday?" I asked him.

"Yes," he responded.

McNamara is now asking the state for an official investigation into the department's lack of training.  He believes the city will only act if someone holds their feet to the fire.

"We're doing the best we can with what we've been trained to, and we're going to do that.  We're going to do it instantaneously.  But the city's liable," he said.

We received the following response from Detroit Executive Fire Commissioner Don Austin:

"During initial training at the Fire Academy, all fire fighter candidates are trained for Medical First Responder (MFR) certification, as required by the State of Michigan. MFR certification includes knowledge of CPR.
 
"Fire fighters should be trained for CPR recertification every two years, under American Heart Association requirements.  The Detroit Fire Department will initiate a program to train fire fighters in CPR for recertification next month."

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