Tzu Chi University is the only university in the nation that has emergency care course available. Ever since its implementation in 2008, the course had trained 241 students who went on to be certified as entry level emergency medical technician, or EMT-1. Five of them became firefighters, and many more became firefighting volunteers, or the official title: phoenix volunteers. In 2015, the Hualien County Fire Department First Corps Ziqiang Branch has the addition of ten TCU phoenix volunteers and five interns.
The course includes 3 credit hours of first aid, 2 credit hours of fire service internship, 8 hours of voluntary service, as well as physician regulations and medical ethics, said Professor Hsieh Wan-Hua, the emergency care training instructor. “Once the students acquire the rescue techniques, they will need practice,” Hsieh said. “Through voluntary service, they can acquire onsite experience, work with colleagues who share the same passion, and hone their skills to save lives.” Zhou Kui-Xue, a TCU alumni, was a phoenix volunteer when he studied at TCU, and is now the deputy branch head of Meilun Branch. Over seven years of experience and thousands of fire awareness lectures, Zhou is definitely a role model.
Because the Ziqiang Branch locates directly in front of TCU, many TCU students chose to volunteer at the branch. Lin Yu-Jie and Tian Yi-Xian both took emergency care during the spring semester of their sophomore year out of the passion to save lives. They interned at the branch for 15 days, during which they saved a life together with the branch firefighters. They continued to volunteer after the internship, hoping one day to become an official phoenix volunteer. “All the senior volunteers at the department are friendly and passionate. Everyone is eager to help others.” said Tian.
Although TCU students are certified with EMT-1, they lack hands-on experience, said Branch Head Wu Chia-Chi of Ziqiang Branch. As a solution, in addition to two group training sessions per month, he would have these students to sharpen their skills by assisting with situations they often encountered in their jurisdiction. The Ziqiang Branch, for example, is located by the main road, and the situations they most often encountered is automobile accidents. In these scenarios, adding a splint or carrying a stretcher are techniques that the students have to be familiar with. Wu was grateful for the voluntary service of these students sharing their workload. In the event of an accident, they always deploy as a two-person team, Wu said, and with the assistance from volunteers, the duty assignment becomes much easier.
Qiu Zi-Qi, a TCU alumnus, was assigned to Ziqiang Branch this June as a firefighter. He took emergency care while at school. When serving in the military, he was assigned as a firefighter, and took pride in what he did. That was why he applied for the firefighter examination after leaving the military. Many people regard firefighting as a risky profession, Qiu said, but the professional trainings are available for firefighters to assess the risks, make the right call, and save lives while staying safe.
Text: Lee Chia-I
Translated by Fang Kai-Ping