The Vinton First Aid Crew hosted an Emergency Vehicle Operator Course (EVOC) on February 25 and 26.
According to Jordan Fifer, reporter for the organization, “The course is two-day class that includes classroom and practical portions that teach safe emergency and defensive driving. Students can be certified to drive several sizes or classes of vehicles from small response cars to ambulances to large fire trucks.
“We had 22 students from more than 10 local agencies taking the class for the first time or refreshing their certification,” said Fifer. “We offer the course occasionally, but typically once a year. It’s offered by different rescue squads, agencies, and other departments around the state as well.”
The Emergency Vehicle Operator Course is patterned after the State Office of Transportation Safety EVOC guide. The course emphasizes safe driving skills and is designed to help reduce the number of crashes involving emergency vehicles. It includes classroom and driving range skills.
This is a 16-hour course (eight hours as a refresher course), including classroom and practical elements. It is sponsored and certified by the Virginia Association of Volunteer Rescue Squads (VAVRS), “a non-profit organization dedicated to volunteer rescue squads and other agencies interested in providing the finest in rescue and pre-hospital care.”
The parking lot at William Byrd High School is utilized as the driving range for the EVOC course.
Vehicles available for the February class included a reserve wagon (or fire truck), Squad 2 (a heavy rescue truck from the Vinton First Aid Crew), Wagon 11 from the Back Creek Fire Department, a utility truck from a local hospital, Brush 2 from the Vinton Volunteer Fire Department, Attack 11 from Back Creek (similar to a brush truck), a crash (or heavy rescue) truck from the Salem Rescue Squad, and Utility 11 from Back Creek (an SUV mainly used for response and manpower.)
Fifer said that most of the students in this particular session completed the course in either a fire truck or heavy rescue truck. Two students specifically needed to take the course just in an SUV.
Most fire and rescue squad agencies require providers to have EVOC to drive their vehicles so it has become the standard certification.
The VAVRS was first organized in 1935 in Roanoke and now represents 329 volunteer EMS agencies, rescue squads, fire departments, and specialty related agencies with over 18,000 members.
The Vinton First Aid Crew presently has 51 members, with five more in the application process. Chief Wayne Guffey reported to Vinton Town Council on March 21 that the members of the First Aid Crew contributed 1,949 man hours in February, serving residents of Vinton and East Roanoke County with a very commendable fractile response time of 8.73 minutes when the goal and standard response time is 12 minutes.
More information is available on the Vinton First Aid Crew Facebook page or on their website at www.vintonems.org/.