Jason Hebert, a Natchitoches native with 28 years of firefighting and EMS experience, has joined the Alexandria Fire Department as the new Director of EMS. “More than 70 percent of the calls our fire department responds to are medical calls,” noted Alexandria Mayor Jeffrey W. Hall.
“So it is critical that our fire department personnel have the proper medical training and supplies to be able to respond to emergencies. Jason has the experience and will be a great asset to our department and to the citizens of Alexandria.”
It didn’t take long for Hebert to make an impact.
In his first week on the job, Alexandria firefighters responded to the scene of a traffic accident in which one of the passengers was severely injured. Thanks to his certification as a paramedic, Hebert was able to treat the victim, keeping him alive until Acadian Ambulance personnel arrived. “As a paramedic, I can do more things than someone with Basic EMT skills,” Hebert explained. “I can jump in and start IVs and do other things to help stabilize a patient until they can be transported.”
Hebert comes to Alexandria from Pineville, where he served for 20 years and was also the director of EMS. But really, Hebert has been involved in firefighting and saving lives his whole life. “I have a family history,” Hebert said when asked why he chose the profession. “I had uncles who were firefighters. And my dad was chief in Natchitoches. I used to ride in the truck with dad and sit and absorb it all. So I kind of grew up in a firehouse.”
In announcing Hebert’s hiring, Alexandria Fire Chief Larry King made reference to his many years of experience. “Jason has assisted us in the past with training and knowing his years of experience in the fire service, I knew he would be a great fit with the Alexandria Fire Department,” King said. “Our department is excited to have him and our personnel are looking forward to the advanced training and skills he will teach them. This ensures our citizens and visitors to our city will continue to receive the excellent medical services they have come to expect from the Alexandria Fire Department.”
Hebert’s immediate plans call for increased medical training for Alexandria Fire Department staff and updating equipment to ensure they have the best treatment options available in the field. “I want to do hands-on training, not just a bunch of PowerPoints,” he said. “I want to try throwing them curves and see how they do. That’s the time to make mistakes, in training, not on the street.” His goal is to expand the number of employees with Basic EMT experience and elevate the current staff with Basic to an advanced level just below Paramedic.
New supplies are also on the list. “For example, we’re adding chest patches for chest wounds. And we’re using combat tourniquets,” he said. He is also working to standardize the way materials are placed in the medical supply bags. “We want to make sure all of the med bags are stocked identically, which saves time,” he said, noting that in the field if all the bags are stocked in the same way, with the same supplies in the same pockets, personnel can quickly grab what they need from the nearest bag.
“Little things like that add up,” he said.
Part of Hebert’s emphasis on having the latest treatment supplies and a highly-efficient treatment process comes from his experience with the Region 6 Urban Search and Rescue team. He has also had specialized disaster medic training, where rescue workers were taught how to operate as first responders in a disaster situation. Hebert described the disaster medic training as very intense, learning how to treat victims with severe injuries in very cramped and dangerous surroundings.
While much of that training focused on extreme emergency situations, the disaster training can be applied to treating victims of tornados, hurricanes or other disasters that can happen locally. “It’s definitely great for disasters, and we can include some of that training in what we use on a daily basis,” Hebert said.
Hebert is married to Alexandria native Amanda Hebert and has three teen-age children.