Watching action shows where heroic men and women come rushing in blaring ambulances to save the lives of serious trauma and disease was something I grew up watching in numerous Hollywood productions. Never did I think that I would have the opportunity to be that person in real life until It was my senior year of Highschool. Getting an EMT license wasn’t something that I planned on doing for years prior but, it kind of just happened. It fell into my hands, as many things do in life, and I just kept running with it. Because I kept running with it and doing more I have been able to succeed in areas I wouldn’t know how to.
After committing to a Physician Assistant direct entry program my junior/senior year of Highschool, a lot of pressure came upon me to meet all the requirements put forth for the graduate program. This included obtaining a high science GPA, cumulative GPA, GRE scores, shadowing positions, letters of recommendation, and direct patient care hours. Honestly, the most terrifying category of those requirements was the direct patient care hours, and here is the reason. A GPA and GRE score you can work extremely hard to do better and meet the requirements, But, obtaining direct patient care hours doesn’t matter about how hard you work. It matters about the opportunities you come by and the people you know. The smartest and most hardworking person can be a Pre-PA major but, fall short because they didn’t have the opportunity to work directly with patients. This EMT license was like the golden ticket for someone in my situation.
So, my senior year of Highschool, instead of signing up for an AP Biology course, I signed up for an EMT course. It was an extra period long but, I knew the outcome of this decision would be greater than having an extra lunch period in Highschool.
The first couple of weeks of class were interesting, to say the least. There were about 20 kids that signed up for the class (the maximum) and by the end of the first week, there were 16. This wasn’t because of the difficulty of the course but, it was because these people didn’t realize what they signed up for. They didn’t realize they signed up for blood and all of these life-saving techniques that can be used in scary and life-threatening situations. Throughout those first couple weeks, we focused on the law of being an EMT. Things such as how to document properly, what is proper care, what can you do and what can you not do, and basically how not to get sued. This part of the class can be boring at times but, I have used this part of my training more than one might think. I have gotten myself out of some pretty sticky situations in the past (I will share in another blog).
For the rest of the year, we continued to do pretty standard EMT coursework and training. This included ventilating and putting NPOs in practice manikins. The range of things we did was fantastic and the thing I liked most about taking it through my Highschool was that the period we had to learn and practice all of these things was longer. I was able to perfect all of my skills, studies, and training before the exam and before I was set off into the real world. One of my favorite skills to do was blood pressure. It was probably the most basic and least trauma-related of all of the ones we practiced but, there was something about it being so variable every single time that captivated my interest. You always had to be focused to assure an accurate measurement.
From the course, I received a few different certifications. I received certifications from FEMA such as a hazardous materials cert. and I received my first-aid and CPR from the course, all on top of my EMT license. All of these licenses and certifications were rewards of my hard work and provided me with the necessary tools to tackle real-world patients and obtain my direct patient care hours.
To obtain the final license, however, you had to go through a few different testing. First off you had to get better than an 80% on every single test throughout the year to take the county exam. If you reached the county exam you then had to score a 75% or better to be eligible to take your physical and state exam. The Physical exam consisted of about 10 different scenarios ranging from trauma to disease-based patients. In each situation, you had to do conduct yourself in the right manner while getting everything correct. The only way to pass is if you passed all 10 stations. If you passed your physical you can then take the state exam where you need to score a 75% or above and only after you score a 75% or above are you licensed in the state of NY as an EMT.
This process was extremely time-consuming and somewhat difficult but the opportunities and stories that I have gained from it are truly incredible. I couldn’t have asked for a better situation. Everything worked out great for me and if you ever get a chance to do something similar to me, I highly recommend taking the opportunity.