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Midvale Journal

UFA fires into the world of podcasts

Jun 15, 2018 10:47AM ● By Aspen Perry

By Aspen Perry  |   [email protected]

What began as a way to provide more training and internal communication for Unified Fire Authority’s (UFA) emergency medical services (EMS) division has plans to venture into the realm of public outreach.

Roll Call Podcast was adapted as a forum for various UFA paramedic-training options developed when EMS Division Chief Wade Watkins, Captain Layne Hilton  and UFA paramedic Chris Middlemiss began bouncing around ideas in regards to the annually required training for UFA’s paramedics. 

“Each year paramedics need to certify in advanced cardiac life support, and we rotate every other year for pediatric life support,” Watkins said. 

After some deliberation regarding the best way to get the message of medical director Dr. Kim Roland out to the department, as well as encourage questions, Watkins and Middlemiss felt a podcast offered the best potential to create an open-forum dialogue.

“I chose a couple street medics and an operations captain, and they could ask any question they wanted to,” Watkins said. 

“Having the medical director there to interact was phenomenal as far as the communication that happened,” Watkins said.

Watkins said the level of outreach the podcast format allotted was significant, given the large size of UFA with 640 employees, including 200 paramedics.

“They could all hear the why (behind procedure), they could hear the doctor’s mindset, and then the paramedics could get answers — and it worked,” Watkins said.

The level of success reached from the first attempt at the podcast led to more possibilities, including case reviews to broaden the knowledge of positive outcomes throughout the EMS division. 

“Let’s say paramedics go on a call that rendered good results for a patient,” Watkins said. 

“We’re going to take those paramedics and talk to them, so our other practitioners can hear that, embrace it and learn from it.” 

In addition to receiving firsthand feedback from division directors and in the field methods for success, Watkins said the podcast forum was beneficial as a means for expediting the learning process for new paramedics. 

For Watkins, the conversational style of a podcast also lends to a natural mode of learning through dialogue. 

“I love the conversation — it’s easy to (understand) a conversation where it’s okay to be wrong, and learn from (that dialogue),” Watkins said. 

In addition to Roll Call discussing training and community issues, UFA has recently started exploring micro-learning episodes, ranging from 10–15 minutes on topics such as drug of the month, which could serve as a tool for citizens to understand community issues, as much as the intent for UFA education. 

While the majority of Roll Call podcasts at this time are geared toward furthering the education and training of UFA staff, the knowledge can also be used by civilians to better understand why UFA operates as it does today. It also provides lessons on both the successes and challenges facing the men and women charged with saving lives. 

In May, Watkins hosted a special public safety podcast for Holladay City with UPD Chief Don Hutson. During the podcast, Hutson and Watkins discussed wildfire risk and prevention, as well as laws of golf cart usage — a frequent resident complaint — on Holladay City streets. Residents can access this podcast by going to and searching “Roll Call podcast Holladay City public safety.” 

Watkins has plans for a two-part episode this summer covering wildland firefighting, in which he hopes to include not only best practices for local and national firefighters who tune in, but also address concerns of the average citizen. 

For individuals who prefer watching interview conversations, Watkins, Hilton and Middlemiss recently started filming podcasts with a virtual reality (VR) camera so viewers can feel as though they’re in the room and part of the conversation. The VR video recording of the fourth podcast — part 1: CVA, EMS review with 104A — is available to view via YouTube

The Roll Call podcast is available for free on iTunes, under the category of “Science & Medicine” for any civilians interested in familiarizing themselves with UFA happenings.