One of the clear benefits of doing practicals in class is that it gives us a chance to learn from our mistakes. And overall.... as EMT students, we make lots of mistakes.
Most of them are small, like not thinking to put a sheet down on a Reeves stretcher to make it easier to move a patient to the ambulance stretcher later one, or tying bandages in such a way that the un-padded side of a splinting board ends up against the patient.
But then there are the big mistakes. The deadly ones. The ones where, as a student, you sit at the end of the exercise wondering "Do things really go bad that quickly in real life?" [The answer, by the way, is unfortunately 'yes'].
The bad news, unfortunately, is that all these scenarios represent real-life situations that various instructors have personally faced. As one told us, "After 25 years as an EMT, I still learn something new on just about every call."
I saw the picture above the other week, and it has stuck with me....
While the EMT course can be a lot of work, my push to excel is driven from within. Coursework and certification alone won't make me a good EMT.
What will make me a good EMT is never settling for giving my patients anything less than my very best efforts.
[Thanks to @insomiacMedic for the image]
As we come to the last few weeks of the EMT course, it seems that we are also coming full circle, revisiting early class materials on the lifecycle of human development.
One of the more interesting aspects of our current study is the process of childbirth, and the EMT skills that support it.
Needless to say, this has made for some humorous practical skill sessions,mostly involving EMT students trying not to laugh as their peer is arm deep in the abdomen of the mother (delivery) mannequin, trying to emulate the birth process by pushing the baby mannequin out (with appropriate grunting sounds made entirely by accident in most cases).
Having just wrapped up the third exam, it feels like a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders. With a little more than a 40 hours remaining (a month of weekends, in my case), the end of the EMT coursework is within sight.
Most of our remaining classes are really going to be review, helping us to fine tune our skills at patient assessment and interventions for both trauma and medical emergencies. In talking with some of my fellow students, everyone seems to be more comfortable than we were just a few weeks ago, having recognized that by breaking down how to approach patient care in to a logical and consistent manner, we've grown both comfortable and confident in our own skills and ability to handle many different situations.
Of course, the instructors aren't going to just make it easy for us. The scenarios and situations they're starting to give us are more complex, often involving a mix of injuries and medical conditions, and requiring us to build upon our index of suspicion skills and determine which are serious life threats to be dealt with quickly, and which ones could have little or nothing to do with the situation at hand.
For example, just because a patient presents with high blood pressure and is known to be diabetic doesn't necessarily mean that either of these two conditions are linked to an underlying issue that we must treat. Where our initial scenarios were clearly set up so we could demonstrate an understanding of diabetic emergencies (and associated treatment options), instructors now want us to be able to treat our patients holistically, and not get overly focused on one specific piece of information at the expense of something more critical.
And I got a real-life lesson in this just the other week....
Jon Alperin, one of our MFAS volunteers, shares his journey to becoming an NJ certified EMT.
from the Start
Here is Jon's journey, presented in time order: