The duties of a volunteer firefighter go beyond putting out fires and rescuing animals from trees. In reality, volunteer firefighters perform a multitude of important tasks to keep others safe, maintain equipment, and ensure the department can continue serving the community.

"Along with running fire calls and medical calls our volunteer firefighters perform public education at our local schools, churches and day care centers," St. Amant Fire Chief James E. LeBlanc said.

In Ascension Parish, LeBlanc said, more than 80% of the calls are for medical assistance. "It is important that our volunteers continue to train and keep their state certifications up to date in the medical field" he said.

Volunteer firefighters often administer first aid or CPR to individuals hurt in fire, accidents or other types of emergencies. "When seconds count, we want to make sure our volunteers have the confidence and the skills needed to save a life here in Ascension Parish," LeBlanc said.

During a recent medical training session, volunteers from St. Amant and 5th Ward performed and evaluated two-rescuer CPR; one-rescuer CPR; obstructed airway technique for the adults, children and infants; adult/child Automated External Defibrillator; pocket mask; and bag valve mask skills.

The volunteers were able to evaluate basic first aid skills necessary to care for the ill and injured until an ambulance service arrives.

"Becoming a volunteer firefighter is one of the most rewarding and selfless decisions you can make," LeBlanc said. "Volunteer firefighters prevent and put out fires and administer first aid within their communities." Today, volunteers make up 55% of all active firefighters.

"Our volunteer firefighters don't just battle blazes. They also serve as medical first responders on the scene of accidents, natural disasters and other emergencies. To handle the job's technical demands and stresses, volunteer firefighters need specific training that goes well beyond instruction at the fire academy. Volunteer fire departments look for firefighters with the medical background to handle any crisis that may occur.