January 22, 2012
1. So, what does EMT stand for anyway?It stands for Emergency Medical Technician.2. What kind of training is involved in becoming an EMT?I'm a basic and for that level of certification, it usually requires about 150 hours of classroom instruction, an eight-hour hospital clinical, an eight-hour ambulance clinical, and I had to pass a written and practical exam. Each level has more requirements. 3. So, how many levels are there?There are first responders, basic, intermediate and then paramedics. Each one has specific training that's required. As a basic, I am trained to respond to respiratory, cardiac and trauma-related calls. When EMTs arrive at a call, they are usually basics.4. How many hours do you typically work?I work for the Perry Township Fire Department and also at a private company. At the Fire Department, as part-time employees, we are required to put in 12 hours a month. You may work up to 32 hours a week. The schedule is broken up into four-hour shifts and you may work up to 24 as a part-time EMT. As a full-time EMT, at our Fire Department you work a rotating 24-hour shift. You must be a paramedic to be full time, which I'm not. The private company I work for there are several different shifts, but I work an eight hour Monday through Friday shift. I seldom get off after only eight hours, but for me, the overtime is nice. I average about 45 hours a week there. A lot of weeks I work over 60 hours between both places.5. What does a typical day look like?At the Fire Department a typical day starts with us checking off our medic [the ambulance]. That means making sure our equipment is on the medic and working properly. We check the fluids, radio, lights and sirens. We also have station chores to fill in the time at the station. Depending on what kind of calls come in makes up the rest of our day. At the private company I work for a typical day consists of first checking off our medic, station chores and waiting to be dispatched out. The type of calls mostly consists of transporting from nursing homes, but we also get some residential transports. We transport them to the hospital, all kinds of doctors appointments, dialysis and radiation treatments. We also have emergency calls, sometimes.6. What are some of your primary duties?Each level of EMT has different responsibilities when we reach the patient. As a basic, my job is to make sure the patient has no life-threatening issues. The ABCs of airway, bBreathing and circulation is first priority. I have to make sure the airway is clear, breath sounds can be heard and bleeding is under control. We take vitals, which is blood pressure, SpO2 [measures the oxygen that is circulating in the blood stream] and pulse. We do a head-to-toe assessment of the patient trying to assess and pinpoint any issues that need to be addressed by us or the [emergency room] upon arrival. As a basic, I'm allowed to assist patients with certain medication. ... We have to be able to administer and regulate high-flow oxygen. If CPR or defibrillation is required, I have to be up on my certification and be able to recognize the time it is needed. There is so much more, but I think I have the “basics” covered.7. How do you deal with the difficult or disturbing things you must see on the job?I repeat to myself, “Suck it up, Heather, and do what needs done and then go home and hug your family.” I always try to keep in mind how I would want my family members treated. That helps me keep things in perspective. I have went home and cried, but really who hasn't at one time or another?8. Has anyone ever thrown up on you?No not yet, but now that I have said that it will probably happen. I have seen my partners get soaked. It is not pretty.9. What's the hardest thing about your job?With the Fire Department, wanting to do more but having my hands tied by regulations. What I do get to do, I want to do it correctly and as quickly as possible in order to move on to the next task or issue that needs to be address. At the private job, the hardest part is seeing some of the patients in the nursing home that call out, wanting someone, anyone to come in and just talk to them. Also, waiting at doctors appointments. I don't sit still well.10. What is the best thing about your job?Talking to the patients is the best part of both my jobs as an EMT — making them feel not alone. I have learned so much from the elderly patients I transport. I like that each day is a new adventure and a chance to learn. I also like to drive with lights and sirens, but really who wouldn't?11. Why did you become an EMT?It's just something I always wanted to do. I had the opportunity to go to school, and I went for it.