EMS paramedics train for challenges of new arena

As they lowered volunteers — or "victims" they joked — down the steep stairs of Intrust Bank Arena, Sedgwick County EMS paramedics learned Tuesday how to maneuver among the unique challenges of the new venue.

New equipment will help. "Stair chairs" with brake tracking systems and "med sleds" will help paramedics get music and sports fans to safety.

Paramedics took turns using the new equipment during a training session Tuesday. They were the fourth group of paramedics to go through the training. Paramedics who want to work at the arena must go through the specialized training.

With Tuesday's session, 60 paramedics have gone through training, said operations manager Scott Hadley.

The stair chairs — which cost $3,200 each — are relatively new equipment for EMS. The county has one chair for each ambulance, about 30 altogether. The med sled is on loan from its manufacturer as the county tests it out to see whether the equipment is helpful at the arena.

Paramedics would use it on people who are unconscious, can't maintain their own airway or may have a spinal injury. The device, which straps the patient in tightly, has a spine board and "sled" that surrounds the board. It's lowered by a safety line that resembles a seat belt.

Paramedics use carabiners to fasten the sled to handrails as they lowered it slowly down the stairs in the highest section.

"Hopefully we won't have to use it that often," Hadley said.

How many paramedics will work at the arena will depend on the event's size. For events such as the Jan. 9 Brad Paisley concert, eight paramedics will work the arena, Hadley said. One crew will work in the first-aid room, and three crews will roam the arena.

The first-aid room will be staffed at all times when the arena is open. It's located behind Sections 123 and 124.

Lt. Lyle Webster was one of the paramedics who participated in Tuesday's training.

Besides the opportunity for overtime, he said he was interested in the "unique challenges" of working at an arena that can hold up to 15,000 people.

Just like any other job, everyday tasks as a paramedic can become routine, he said, so the arena presents a change of routine.

"And I think most of us are interested in the overall community needs," Webster said.