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Nursing the department along

Ryan Carter

The Burbank Fire department has many firefighters, but it also has

a nurse.

From her office at Station 15, Nurse Educator Susan Hayward


reviews service records, pours over response reports, updates

paramedics on new procedures and briefs the department on new

emergency medical policies. It’s a decade-long, 30-hour-a- week

partnership that officials say has provided added quality assurance


to the department’s paramedic services.

In the early 1990s, Burbank was among the first in the county to

usher in new field treatment procedures for paramedics. The protocols

increased paramedics’ ability to administer medical treatments in the

field. But as the number of policies and treatments increased, the

need for a nurse educator became that much more important, Hayward


“My job is to review all of the runs and policies that the


department makes and to ensure that good care is being provided to

the citizens of Burbank,” she said.

Not every department has a nurse educator, officials said. Some

smaller ones share them. And in some cities, such as Glendale, they

are a fairly new breed because the department’s paramedic program is

younger than Burbank’s.

Hayward works with firefighters and paramedics on more routine

calls, like frequent ones for shortness of breath and heart attacks,


as well as ones they don’t see every day.

“People tend to get rusty. I want to make sure they stay up on the

care,” she said.

That’s why Hayward holds refresher courses on procedures like one

in which a needle is inserted into the neck to open the airway.

Hayward also holds informational meetings, like one last week about

smallpox vaccinations. A refresher on pediatric aid is in the works.

“Susan’s job is important for the EMS program,” Capt. Tom Lenahan

said. “She’s doing this in a way in which she has cooperation from

paramedics, and able to deliver the message without chastising them

by saying ‘You did this wrong!’”