Another EMT Recertification Gone By

I spent this weekend in classes recertifying.

When I first joined the squad on 10 March 2003, I had no certifications, no knowledge other than a lot of reading and was completely new to Emergency Medical Services. But it sounded amazing and neat and we'd moved into this area the previous October and I had a little too much time on my hands.

The first night I rode, we went out on a "smell of smoke" standby and watched in the cold air as the firemen methodically put holes in the house to determine if there was a problem. After about 90 minutes, they gave up and had the heavy rescue guys come out to board it up. As we were released from that, we were called out for a bug on a kid's back. On the way, we were diverted to something else.

It was exciting.

So a month later I went to Chilton to get my first CPR/AED training. It was eight hours and fascinating. I learned a lot and realised that is the first of three levels of training that I could take. I love learning.

In October 2003 we hosted a First Responder training class. It was three weeks long and was 40 hours of training. We had it on two or three nights a week and I learned a staggering amount of things. They teach the basic knowledge as well as the little pearls and tidbits and they told war stories (in all honesty, there were a few too many war stories, but I enjoyed it). There were a lot of practicals and tests, but that is a good thing. I passed that and signed up for the EMT course in January 2004. I knew what I was getting into at that point and was ready - I had my CPR and First Responder certs and I had been riding for 7 months.

In early January I went to the first of many, many classes. The introduction was on a Thursday night, and they laid out the whole program: 13 Cores or modules and heaps of practice, ten hours of emergency room time and books and books and printed sheets to write out. There would be no bullet points and no partial phrases. Everything had to be filled out as full paragraphs detailing and outlining the whole process of whatever they asked.

The book to read along with the long lectures had all the answers (I have the book still) and the work book along with the Xeroxed sheets had to be done each night. That Thursday had sounded daunting. If we did not pass a test at the end of each mod, we had one time to retake it. I scored high on all the mod tests except pediatrics, with all the weird numbers that kids in different age ranges have. It isn't the practical side of it, it is the numbers - infants (age 0 - 1) have one set of numbers, toddlers (age 1 - 3) have a different set, and preschoolers (age 3 - 6) have another. The numbers become much like adults at age 8, but the guidelines at that age for dealing with peds patients are different. Adolescents are different, too. Their stats are completely like adults but how one talks to them and deals with them is different.

The first time I recertified, it was work but it was good - it's the skills you don't use that get you. The numbers for using the traction kit? Once every ten years. How often do we use the epi-pen? Almost never. But we have them. Good thing we have to refresh this stuff. It won't get easier.

This time was even easier. I'm surprised at that. I get the feeling that passing people is more important than actually make sure that we have the skills to do this. Hopefully not. I'd like to be wrong on that.

However, I loved the instructors. I met some wonderful people and learned weird little factoids, like: The crook in the arm is the antecubital area. The use it for venipuncture because the blood vessels are tied down where they need to bend for the elbow. The area is called the antecubital area because it is the front (ante) of the cubit. The biblical distance from your elbow to your hand.

How cool is THAT?

And: When I was 12 we were driving my cousin home and as we passed her neighbors house she said that the little girl who lived there had leukemia. I asked my dad what that meant. He said it meant that she is going to die. The book on the human body by Isaac Asimov that I'm reading was written in 1963 and it just said that leukemia is invariably fatal. Isn't it amazing how far we've come in 40 years.

Isn't it?


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