Ep 1 – Newbie EMT Fears

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[audio:01_EMT_Newbie_Fears.mp3] (49:05)
Our first episode, recorded the morning before Ron’s first EMT-Basic class. We talk about the fears he has before he ever gets started and Kelly – his Jedi master paramedic – calms those fears with ease.

Those fears are:
#1 I’ll have too weak a stomach to be an EMT.
#2 I’m not emotionally strong enough for it.
#3 I won’t be smart enough.

Other things we cover:
What are good and bad motivations for becoming an EMT? Stories including chicken and horse guts. We get Kelly’s opinion on CISM and the calls that haunt him. As well as how he think you should for studying for class.

Every episode we will also talk about Kelly’s book. This week you’ll learn everything about it and some of the hardcore paramedic stuff the editors thought to dangerous to include.

Lastly we start our section on the Gear a Newbie Really needs. Kelly brings it down to 3 things

  1. A Pen
  2. A Watch
  3. A Stethoscope

Mentioned:
Ron’s Photography site and podcast, Photographer And Model
Kelly’s book En Route

Correction
Ron’s class is actually 12 weeks long and also has 2 5 hour extrication labs.

Definitions:
Critical Care Paramedic – Primarily deals with high acuity patient transfer.
Acuity – from acute; how sick the patient is. The higher the acuity the worst sick they are.
CISM – Critical Incident Stress Management.

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The Post That Started It All

Confessions of an EMS Newbie started when Ron announced he was going to be an EMT on his personal blog. Below is the text of that post and the comment Kelly left on the post.

I’m Going To Be An EMT
I finally got registered for EMT Basic at Lone Star North Harris yesterday.

Took me a little while because they didn’t have proof I had the prerequisites – which were according the adviser HS English and math. I had to request a transcript from my University. (I made a D in Strength Training – really).

I start the second week of June, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday from 6 PM til 10:15 PM. My schedule on those days will be intense, P90x at 7 AM, Work till 5:30, Class till 10:15 then start all over again the next day.

I also have two Mandatory Extrication, which are on Fridays from 5 – 10p, which I just realized means I have to leave work even earlier.

And there is Clinical – which I’ll find out exactly what that schedule is at the end of the first week and will do sometime after the 3rd week. Looking around the web – my school doesn’t have info available – it looks like that will be 1 8-12 hour shift in an ambulance and 1 8-12 hour shift in a hospital.

Why

I keep getting asked why I want to do this. I have a good job and make way more than I could ever expect to make as an EMT. I don’t expect to make a career out of this, though I do think I’ll want to do it on a regular basis. I don’t think you can keep a skill without practice and something like this you only really learn from experience. So I’ll probably find a volunteer fire department to be part of.

Reason #1: I’m doing it because I always wanted to do. When I was in High School (back in 1982) I had a buddy who ended up transferring to the high school for the health sciences because he wanted to be a paramedic. I always thought that was cool. But I’ve never taken the time to do it.

Reason #2: I consider it advanced first aid and that is a skill I want to have. My survivalist leanings are coming through here. Plus I’d hate to be in a situation where I could have done something and didn’t know how.

Reason #3: The girls and the glory. OK, I admit I romanticize it a little. I’ve read enough of Ambulance Driver to know it isn’t glorious, but I can’t help myself. I just seems exciting to be out saving people’s lives. Oh and the only EMT I’ve ever met in person was one of my models. Picture to the right.

Fear

I’ve got some fears going in and I thought I’d write them down so I can come back and laugh at them later.

#1 I’ll have too weak a stomach to be an EMT. The only time I threw up at the sight blood was when my wife went in to placenta privia labor in the hospital. And even then I turned around, blew chunks into a garbage can, and then turned back to her and held her hand as they took her to the OR. She says it is because I was afraid or stressed out, so I’ll take that as true and not worry too much about it.

#2 I won’t be smart enough. That really isn’t it, because I think I’m a pretty smart guy and can do anything. I think is it more worrisome that I haven’t been to school in 15 years or studied for anything. I tell my kids they can do it, so I guess I’ll have to buck up and do it.

#3 I’m not emotionally strong enough for it. Being an EMT will mean I’ll see tragic things happen. People dying, children hurt, etc. Will I be able to take that over time? Guess I’ll find out.

Just writing these down has settled my fears quite a bit. They weren’t really that bad any way or I would have found a excuse not to sign up.

I’m excited and wish it was starting sooner. I’ve realized I hate having to plan things in the future and then wait for them to happen. Wether it is shooting a hot model, going to Vegas, or taking this class. Once it is scheduled I want it to happen tomorrow.

Kelly, Ambulance Driver’s, response

Fears:

#1. When you’re photographing those beautiful models, does your head swim with images of breasts, gorgeous eyes, and long, shapely legs? Or are you too focused on the technical aspects of the shot to be distracted by such things? I’ll bet it’s the latter.

Same thing with being an EMT. You’re too busy with the technical aspects of patient care to be sick. Training can overcome a weak stomach.

#2 They write EMT textbooks at the 8th-10th grade reading levels. That should tell you something. You won;t have a problem with the academics. Devoting the time to practice your skills and assessments until they become reflexive, that’s a more difficult task.

#3 First rule is, it’s not your illness. That said, if you can’t approach this profession with an open heart, you have no business doing it. It’s just like life – there are peaks and valleys. The hardest part will be to remind yourself to look for the peaks.

Good luck, Ron.

In the first episode of the podcast we go much deeper into these fears and Kelly’s advice.