The first set of written and practical exams are coming up. I'm not as nervous as I thought I would be for the written portion, as there are a lot of resources available to EMT students in terms of online quizzes, eWorkbooks, and study aid apps for your favorite tablet or smartphone.
The practical portion of the exam is a bit more challenging, as it represents core skills that will be used over and over again, including patient assessment and vitals, airway management, plus lifting and moving skills.
The upside, at least for me, is that my volunteering as a driver with the squad has given me a working understanding of much of this material, and so my focus is more on the mechanics of the process, making sure I don't miss or skip the specific order of actions, observations, or questions that I should be considering.
The course instructors have been giving us specific drills to reinforce all these points, but it's still a lot of material to cover - almost 500 pages of the EMT book, plus lecture materials containing practical advice not explicitly found in the book or online lecture materials.
Mostly, it's just a case of study, study, study....
The first set of tests covers the background of the EMS system, how it's organized, and the legal and ethical considerations we face with our patients. It also covers the basic anatomy, including life-critical pulmonary and cardiology systems (your heart, lungs, veins, arteries and whatnots), as well as an understanding of how shock relates to and impacts the functioning of those systems.
It also covers human lifecycle development to ensure we recognize differences in treating patients of varying ages.
A significant portion of the material deals with the elements of scene size up and assessment, including critical factors in keeping ourselves safe from harm, including contagious diseases and infections.
Practical skills include the aforementioned moving and lifting of patients using stair chairs, scoop stretchers, backboards, even simple sheets and blankets; taking of vital signs, including pulse, blood pressure, assessing respiration and skin color/temperature/condition, and listening for lung sounds; airway management techniques, including providing oxygen through various means, and methods for maintaining an open (or patent) airway using various methods; and ensuring that we fully understand the process of scene size up, primary assessment, history taking, secondary assessment, and re-assessments.
As a result, I'll be spending a lot of time reviewing and taking practice quizzes, and mentally running through the assessment scenarios. But given the foundational nature of this material for everything that is to come, I'm sure it'll be time well spent getting it right.
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: