So you want to be an EMT?

Local educational options available to help volunteers get required training

By Jacob Mahaffey
The Budget

Have you been feeling the urge to help your community? Do you want to give back but just haven’t figured out how yet?

You may want to give EMS or Emergency Medical Services a try. When an emergency happens, every community looks to trained personnel to help them. However, those trained personnel are becoming few and far between as the numbers of trained Emergency Medical Technicians are dropping.

People’s lives often depend on the quick reaction and competent care of emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics. Incidents as varied as automobile accidents, heart attacks, slips and falls, childbirth, and gunshot wounds all require immediate medical attention. EMTs and paramedics provide this vital service as they care for and transport the sick or injured to a medical facility.

In an emergency, EMTs and paramedics are typically dispatched by a 911 operator to the scene, where they often work with police and firefighters. Once they arrive, EMTs and paramedics assess the nature of the patient’s condition while trying to determine whether the patient has any pre-existing medical conditions. Following medical protocols and guidelines, they provide appropriate emergency care and, when necessary, transport the patient. Some paramedics are trained to treat patients with minor injuries on the scene of an accident or they may treat them at their home without transporting them to a medical facility.

EMTs and paramedics may use special equipment, such as backboards, to immobilize patients. Emergency treatment is carried out under the medical direction of physicians before placing them on stretchers and securing them in the ambulance for transport to a medical facility. These workers generally work in teams. During the transport of a patient, one EMT or paramedic drives while the other monitors the patient’s vital signs and gives additional care as needed. Some paramedics work as part of a helicopter’s flight crew to transport critically ill or injured patients to hospital trauma centers.

At the medical facility, EMTs and paramedics help transfer patients to the emergency department, report their observations and actions to emergency department staff, and may provide additional emergency treatment. After each run, EMTs and paramedics replace used supplies and check equipment. If a transported patient had a contagious disease, EMTs and paramedics decontaminate the interior of the ambulance and report cases to the proper authorities.

EMTs and paramedics also provide transportation for patients from one medical facility to another, particularly if they work for private ambulance services. Patients often need to be transferred to a hospital that specializes in their injury or illness or to a nursing home.

Beyond these general duties, the specific responsibilities of EMTs and paramedics depend on their level of qualification and training.

EMTs and paramedics typically do the following:
– Respond to 911 calls for emergency medical assistance, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or bandaging a wound
– Assess a patient’s condition and determine a course of treatment
– Provide first-aid treatment or life support care to sick or injured patients
– Transport patients safely in an ambulance
– Transfer patients to the emergency department of a hospital or other healthcare facility
– Report their observations and treatment to physicians, nurses, or other healthcare facility staff
– Document medical care given to patients
– Inventory, replace, and clean supplies and equipment after use.

The EMS field has three different levels of EMT’s; Basic, Advanced, and Paramedic. In order to start a career, you have to start at the Basic level.

Buckeye Career Center in New Philadelphia offers courses for Basic EMT and Advanced EMT. The Basic course has 150 classroom hours and 10 clinical hours, five of those are in the hospital and five of them are on an ambulance.

While 150 hours may seem like a lot, they can fly quickly in the classroom. Buckeye Career Center instructor Dana Miller likes to vary the class time. “I like to do a bunch of hands on,” she explained. “So, we do three or four nights of lecture and then hands on.”
Even with the hands on, there is still a lot of classwork to be done. “There’s a lot of homework,” Miller stated. “You are learning a career.”

However, for many, EMS is far more than a career, they describe the work as rewarding as the actions and knowledge of just one person can be the difference between life and death for someone. That’s why Miller stresses the course work. “You have to be solid in your skills and confidence level,” she tells her students.

The clinical experiences are done out in the field, working in the same atmosphere one would experience on the job. Buckeye Career Center works with several fire departments and ambulance companies to make sure their students have a good experience. They work with Baltic, Sugarcreek, Dover and New Philadelphia Fire Departments as well as Smith, Tri-County and Stark Summit Ambulances.

For the hospital clinical time, they only work with Union Hospital and their Emergency Room. Union Hospital has a unique set-up that many hospitals don’t offer. Buckeye has one nurse who their students do time within the ER, Danielle Goedel. Goedel is an EMT herself. “It gives them (the students) a really good experience,” Miller explained.

Buckeye understands that most of their students are not of the traditional variety where every waking moment can be dedicated to studies. “Our classes are evening classes,” Miller said. “You have a job. You have to keep a roof over your head. You have a life.”

It’s not unheard of for Miller to cancel class because of holidays because she wants her students to be focused on the class. Miller even recounts of a time when a student had to bring her daughter to class. “She had nobody to watch her, so, I told her she could bring her as long as she wasn’t a distraction.”
Even though the class tries to cater to those who work and have families, there is still a level of dedication needed. “You have to dedicate yourself to studying,” Miller added. “It is hard.”

At the end of the class, students will have to take the FISDAP which is the final exam for the class. It is designed to mimic the test every potential EMT student must take to become certified, The National Registry. The National Registry tests candidates on all knowledge obtained throughout the course of the class. This includes both hands-on skills and written questions. Even though it can be daunting, Miller strives to give her students the best chance of passing. “One of the things I do is offer study sessions,” she explained. “I will sit and study with them. I’m also at class an hour early every night to be able to help them.”

Once an individual passes the National Registry, they are a certified EMT-Basic. It is at that point that they can then begin to serve neighbors and community members as part of a Fire and Rescue or EMS company.

Several area fire departments offer options to pay for the training if an agreement is reached in advance concerning service after the certification is received. Based on interest there are options for classes offered at local fire departments depending on certifications needed.

For more information, feel free to visit the Baltic Fire Department, Sugarcreek Fire and Rescue or East Holmes Fire or your local fire department. The next class at Buckeye Career Center begins in February 2019.

This story originally appeared in the October 31, 2018 edition of The Budget. For more news, pick up a copy of this week’s edition available Wednesdays at area retailers. Better yet, subscribe and the news will be delivered to you each week. For more information, call us at 330-852-4634.