Deputies from the Burke County Sheriff's Office will now receive emergency management response training as a way to fill the gap in an emergency response.

Last week the sheriff's office partnered with Burke County EMA to train and certify 19 of 102 deputies as Emergency Medical First Responders. Part of the training included an overview on how the emergency management group operates and how to effectively communicate with medical personnel.

Burke Couty Sheriff Alfonzo Williams said the certification is aimed at increasing numbers of qualified first responders in the county.

"Due to the size of our county and the potential for additional emergency medical personnel, we are going to train as many deputies as possible to become first responders" he said in a news release last week.

Chief Rusty Sanders, director of Burke County EMA who obtained the grant for the training from the Georgia Trauma Commission, said the 50-hour course works as a partnership with the sheriff's office to provide its deputies with "first on the scene care."

"Several months ago the opportunity came up for the EMS service to apply for a grant with the overall objective being to teach the medical responders course," he said. "We applied for the grant and were fortunate enough to get the grant so now we are able to instruct and teach as many deputies as we could to be able to provide first on the scene emergency medical care to any victims that might have sustained injuries, or having difficulty prior to the arrival of EMS Service."

Chief Deputy Lewis Blanchard said the training, which is expected to continue in the next year, is "very valuable" for deputies. He referenced a shooting earlier this month in which deputies' were able to provide care to an injured subject following a suicide attempt.

"While the deputies were there the person actually shot himself and deputies were able to treat the individual and render aide prior to the ambulance and EMS arriving," he said.

Another benefit of the training is that it increases the number of qualified people able to respond should a disaster strike, Blanchard said. This goes hand-in-hand with the growing employment at Plant Vogle nuclear power plant in Waynesboro.

We have an influx of several thousand people each and every day working out there so having these additional resources is positive for the county as a whole," Blanchard said. "So whether it be a natural disaster or an active shooter situation, or anything along those lines we certainly want as many people highly trained as possible."