The Florida Association of EMS Educators have presented Marathon Fire Rescue Capt. Joe Forcine the 2015-2016 Preceptor of the Year award. The award recognizes Forcine’s accomplishments as a paramedic educator, as well as his diligence in mentoring new firefighters, a duty he’s loved since arriving in 2003.
“I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished,” said Fire Chief John Johnson. “With Capt. Forcine winning this state award, I think it shows what a small department like ours can do and how we do it. Our department is filled with so many talented and dedicated firefighters, like Capt. Forcine, who serve as assets to the City of Marathon.”
Marathon Fire Department is home to the Southeastern Medical Academy, where Capt. Forcine instructs three levels of paramedic courses. The first is basic CPR and safety aspects of the job. The second is an emergency medical technician course, which certifies students to become formal employees of a fire department. The third, Forcine said, is necessary for those would make it a career, instructing and certifying paramedics for emergency scene work.”
As early as 3 years old, Forcine was fascinated by shows like “Emergency 51,” which he explained was the first EMS show based on paramedics. “As a kid, I would watch it and think ‘these guys are firemen and they’re paramedics…’, and I was just addicted,” said Capt. Forcine.
Forcine began his career after graduating from Ocala’s Florida State Fire College in 1994, then working in Broward County alongside Chief Bill McGrath, who is currently program director of Southeastern Medical Academy, and now his mentor. “I think in life it’s important to continuously find people who can help you grow,” said Forcine.
In three years he quickly gained recognition for his abilities, and by 1997 was tasked to head training. Forcine has instructed paramedic classes for not only fire departments, but also colleges and hospitals.
Capt. Forcine trains local paramedics to be prepared for the realities they face within the district. He takes students on jogs around town to familiarize them with area, and implements strategies like “stress tests” to keep them sharp. (Paramedics are tested physically and then posed questions on, for example, pharmacology.) In fact, Forcine has implemented more training to keep up with the rising number of incidents the department responds to related to medication/drugs. When he noticed that local paramedics faced obstacles very different than their mainland counterparts, he moved to equip Marathon Fire Rescue with more remedies to save lives.
Class sizes at Marathon’s Southeastern Medical Academy average about six to eight paramedics, but they have accommodated as many as 17. Forcine has instructed paramedics as young as recent high school graduates to possibly the oldest graduating paramedic in history, at the age of 76, whom is still working part-time at Marathon Fire Rescue to this day.
Those interested in becoming a paramedic need only visit the Marathon Fire Rescue Department and inquire. Locals are encouraged to do an observation and experience what the daily life of a Marathon paramedic is like. Observation lengths vary, and participants must sign a release.
“You’d be surprised how many people have rode with us, volunteered their time, worked, and they eventually become professionals and officers,” said Forcine.
Contrast & Compare
City of Marathon Fire Rescue calls equal roughly 3,000 a year, divided by the 21 firefighter and paramedics, that 142.85 calls per person. Miami has roughly 95,000 calls per 600 firefighters, that’s 158.33 calls per person.
FORCINE IN ACTION
While the Weekly was interviewing Capt. Forcine at Marathon Fire Rescue, an emergency call came in over the intercom. The majority of the paramedics were at the medical examiner’s office, which left Capt. Forcine and Lanny Woodbury to respond to the call. The Weekly was fortunate enough to ride along to the call, and observe Marathon’s finest administer medical attention to a local man. With calm, compassion, and care, Forcine and Woodbury quickly assessed the man’s condition. Within minutes the condition of the distressed man improved. Shortly after, two more paramedics arrived, were promptly briefed on the man’s condition, and effortlessly took over. The professionalism these men displayed was truly extraordinary and a testament to the tireless work of our local first responders.