A good firefighter is a cross-trained firefighter. Members who know how best to be an engine company member AND a ladder company member are imperative to a well-run fire department. Anybody who has donned turnout gear knows this and prides himself on his ability to adapt to whatever task that needs doing on whichever crew. Being assigned to either an engine or a ladder is great, and it is always prudent to cross-train whenever the opportunity is available.
It is difficult to maintain excellence at any task without performing it regularly. The public expects excellence in their fire departments; we have delivered, and will continue to do so. The most impressive thing on an EMS scene is a group of competent firefighters who are adept at EMS. The moments—moments that may be far too long—that a fire crew spends with a patient, his family and friends, or the general public while waiting for an ambulance crew to arrive are best spent treating the patient, not just killing time. Being comfortable assessing a patient and providing treatment does not come from books or lectures—it comes from experience. Doing is far different from learning. Chances are excellent that a week or two of cross-training on an EMS rig will give any firefighter plenty of opportunity to establish IVs, administer oxygen, draw meds, and do some 12-lead EKGs.
One of the most important benefits gained through a fireEMS cross-training program is the improved working relationship between the EMS and fire suppression crews.