Resident Interns learn and help at Hood River Fire & EMS
Hood River Fire & EMS’s Resident Intern Program helps interns explore paramedic and firefighter careers in a two-year training period.
The intern program teaches basic operating principles of Fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) through day-to-day operations and hands-on experience. A resident intern is typically enrolled in a Fire Science and Paramedic program concurrently and is eligible to receive payments toward college costs. Interns apply knowledge and skills learned in classroom settings while working with crews on real-world emergency calls.
“It’s valuable to have real-world application on top of schooling,” said Fire Chief Leonard Damian. “EMS basically brings the emergency department to the living room. Interns are able see and experience so many different aspects of public safety.” Damian shared that his department has hired a number of alumni from the intern program. Currently, Hood River Fire & EMS has one new intern and two former interns who continue to serve as volunteers. Nationally, women are underrepresented in the fire service. Coincidentally, all are female.
Hood River’s newest Fire / EMS intern is Venus Howard from Vancouver, WA. She’s been curious about emergency medical services throughout her life and has long-held a desire to help others. She had already taken the basic EMT course in college. More recently, she recognized that firefighting as a career also appeals to her. Venus started her two-year internship with the Hood River Fire & EMS’s C-shift in March. In addition to her internship, she continues to attend college and holds a part-time job.
“I feel people inherently care and want to help out. By doing a community-related career, it puts care to good use,” she expresses. In the short time with her crew, she’s learned a lot about the best ways to interact with patients. She’s also enjoyed learning other’s methods for completing various tasks. A highlight of her internship so far has been driving an ambulance, though not yet in an emergency situation.
Venus believes women often don’t consider Fire / EMS career options. “I encourage others to put themselves out there because you just never know,” Venus said. She feels that along with the many things she’s learned so far at the Fire/EMS department, she’s been able to see a different side of Hood River and how cities work. “It’s offered great opportunities for growth and I’m looking forward to what’s to come,” she adds.
Originally from Pennsylvania and with family members in Fire / EMS careers, Katie started firefighting in 2012. Shortly after, she tested for her EMT. In 2016, Katie began three seasons of wildland firefighting in Arizona, Montana and Colorado, moving to Oregon in 2018. Two-and-a-half years ago, she entered the Hood River Fire & EMS Resident Intern Program. The internship has helped her work toward her R.N. and Paramedic degrees. She recently stepped into the role of EMS volunteer.
A highlight of her internship was being part of the A-shift crew that continually trains to prepare to respond to a variety of calls. In addition to medical calls and structure fires, emergencies could relate to hazardous materials, wildland fires, trail or water rescues, or the heavily traveled interstate. Weather events and the fluctuation of tourists and athletes can factor in to local events.
“This career is diverse and new techniques arise each week to improve crew and community safety,” Katie relays. “This means being a student to fire and a student to medicine will be a lifelong journey. It takes being open-minded to new techniques.” Katie adds the internship has allowed her to further her skills within engine operations and as a crew member on the ladder truck.
Katie cites four professional development values for fire service: 1) dynamic training, 2) academic education, 3) relevant experience and 4) continuing education. “HRFD integrates these within their internship opportunity. I really value the time HRFD poured into my professional development and growth as a firefighter/medical teammate,” she concluded.
As a native of Salt Lake City, UT who’s lived in the Pacific Northwest the last six years, Rose Triolo has held a strong interest in medicine. She holds a B.S. in Science in Biology. She was reconsidering long-held plans to attend medical school when she began her Fire/EMT internship last fall.
The Hood River Fire/EMS Resident Intern Program allowed her to take a deep look at Fire/EMS to determine whether it was right for her. “Though I have realized that my path forward is most likely not as a paramedic/firefighter, my desire to be in the medical field and interest in emergency medicine has grown along with my skills in the field.” She continues to use her EMT as a river guide, ski patroller and fireline EMT.
Rose also continues to work as a driver and EMS volunteer with her original B-shift at Hood River Fire & EMS. “The people I have worked with have become like family and I am very grateful for all of the training and time they’ve put in to my learning,” Rose says.
Rose plans to attend Physician Assistant (PA) school in the next few years and will finish her prerequisites in the next month. “My patient skills increased dramatically at HRFD, from simply knowing when to start taking vitals, what I could do to help out the paramedics, and to how to talk to patients and their families,” Rose added.
Venus summed it up well: “There’s value for everyone involved in these internships. The community gets the benefit of well-trained future firefighters, and interns learn so much—not only fire and paramedic skills, but also people skills.”
RESIDENT INTERN BENEFITS
- Up to $8,000 per year for college tuition, books, fees
- Room provided rent free
- Training in all aspects of structure and wildland firefighting, emergency medicine and fire prevention
- Ability to receive stipends for inter-facility transports
- Experience from working shifts with professional staff
To apply to Hood River Fire & EMS Resident Intern Program, or for more information, visit: cityofhoodriver.gov/fire/resident-internship/