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Not sure what to do....What Would You Do?

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Hi!


I'm new to EMTCity and so far I'm loving what I see. It's so nice to have a place for us to come and "hang out" with others that understand.

Let me first mention, that I was an EMT-B for several years and let my certification expire in 2006, thinking I wasn't going to miss what I do as much as I have. So I am retaking EMT-B again and the oldest student in the class! lol I'm enjoying it for the most part and the other part, I wanted to get your words of wisdom about. Or like the Friday night show on ABC, "What Would You Do?" I'm looking forward to getting to know y'all!

I had been rolling a couple of things around in my head since we did our Pre-Clinical Skills day on February 2nd, then after class Thursday night, I thought maybe if I just wrote everything down, maybe I'd feel better. Since the event that occurred Thursday night is really what pushed me to write this, I'll start there.

We were given a quiz to take over the heart valves and vital signs. Several times when our instructor left the classroom, there were a couple of people cheating and one of them even asked me for an answer to a question. I simply shrugged my shoulders as a reply to this person. The cheating also happened on Skills Saturday on the "I'm a drop of blood" quiz, with the same people. In my opinion, the person is taking the answers from another that seems to put an effort into their work. Is that person allowing the other to take the answers? It's a good possibility, since they were talking to one another, but "does it take two to tango"? Maybe it's because I'm the oldest in our class, maybe I'm old school, maybe I'm a snitch...But, I just don't understand how anyone can do this to themselves and their classmates. In my eyes, cheating is showing total disrespect to their classmates, the instructor and themselves and is a form of lying. If a person is going to lie or cheat on something like a quiz, what does that say about their moral character in the long run? Honestly, it angers and frustrates me to know that the grades were better for the dishonest, then for those who did what they were supposed to do.

Another thing I have that's eating at me, is over our skills testing. On my first testing on the one person CPR/AED, I was told I failed due to being off the chest too long to give my first breathes to the patient after my 30 compressions. I was having a problem with the plastic barrier film that we were given to use for the mouth to mask and getting the chest to rise. As I continued through my test and got to the point where I am to tell someone to continue compressions while I set up the AED, that person was "out in left field" and didn't jump in to assist. So instead of setting up the AED, I immediately went back to my chest compressions while I got my "bystander's" attention and asked them to continue chest compressions while I set up the AED, while setting up the AED, I was asked to stop because I had already failed due the 10 seconds off the chest and the plastic barrier device.

When it came to retesting, I was asked to be the "bystander" for another classmate that was needing to retest on the one person CPR/AED with a different instructor. While I was watching and waiting to assist with "bringing the AED and compressions", I saw things that I thought may have been a problem with passing that skill. Incomplete compressions (no clicking noise on the manekin) at least 3 times in each set of the 5 sets of 30 compressions in the one person CPR, "bystander" went through 2 sets of 30 compressions and had to grab the BVM, put the mask on it to give 2 breathes while the tester was setting up the AED, and after shock was administered, the tester did not advise to go right back to doing chest compressions, but instead waited on AED to analyze the patient, advising all to stand clear, at that point instructor states "no shock advised", then the tester stated "you do compressions". I was surpised when this person told me that they had passed this skill.

I have been thinking about these things over the past week and even asked another classmate about their opinion on the AED skills test issue, since I honestly didn't think the cheating was going to end up happening again. Their opinion was to just let it go and see what happens.


This past Thursday night I was truly angry over the cheating issue and I just kept thinking about everything that has happened. Wondering if my instructor or any of the other instructors running the program, that may read this would think I'm just a snitch, crybaby, poor sport, or worse, by being told that I can't continue through EMT-B and ask me not to come back for any further EMS courses because I rock the boat. I'm not writing this to get anyone in trouble, make waves or for personal gain. I am writing this for my classmates and others that may take these courses in the future.


Throughout my writing this, I am worried that if I turn this letter in, that the rules may change on skills testing. I loved that it was kept casual, stress free and I'm almost positive my classmates enjoyed it that way as well. It was a major change compared to what I remembered when I had tested in the past. I can still feel the stress of lining up in a hallway behind a closed door, studying each skill sheet, waiting for my turn to test. Then going into the room with one or two instructors to preform a particular skill, not knowing until a few hours later if I had passed each skill. I am also not writing this for the person for whom I was a bystander for, because I "feel" they did poor on that particular test. While the cheating in the class truly inferiates me, the skills issue is a minor concern more than anything else. The concern is the inconsistancy of the testing instructors. What may fail you with one instructor (ie plastic barrier film) on a particular skill, another instructor may believe that you know what you're doing and allow you to pass on skill.

Please don't think that I am writing this trying to be some sort of know it all or cause trouble, that's not what I'm about. I hope that you would take this as a concerned student that is a team player, willing to help anyone anytime she can, while trying to also be a sort of a role model with a positive attitude. While I may be a little too outspoken and probably should have just let all this roll off my back, sit down and shut up...something inside just tells me to say something, maybe it was just for me to say something by writing this down for myself and getting it off my chest.

I hope you understand & thanks for reading

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Posted · Report post

Cheating is WRONG, no matter what so to allow that to happen is tacit approval that you approve right?

I would go to your instructors behind closed doors and explain what you saw and let them take it from there.

You take the high road and DO NOT cheat and you will be better for it.

You can call the cheaters out in class during the test and let the chips fall where they may or you can let your instructors catch them.

But if your instructors don't give a shit and leave the room during the test then they are giving the cheaters carte blanche to cheat. That's wrong in itself.

Keep your moral compass and just keep on doing what you are doing, don't give in to the cheaters, they will fall mightily at the national registry test or they won't . You know that you passed fair and square.

You can also let their departments know they are cheating if you are a vindictive sort of person which I don't think you are.

I myself, called the cheaters out in the testing situations, I just said to them during the test "Stop trying to cheat off my paper" and that stopped them. It pissed em off but they weren't going to get to use my hard work to skate through class. I didn't make friends in that class except the friends I already had.

I HATE cheaters. They do nothing but make those of us who actually try to learn, look bad.

Keep the faith, it will be worth it in the long run.

My true and honest opinion is to get a list of each of those you saw cheating and give that to your instructor and tell that instructor that these are the ones who shared answers to the quiz or test. I'll bet that will be the last time an instructor is out of the room during a quiz or test. But I could be wrong.

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Posted · Report post

I don't know your institution, but where I work, we have to be very careful about academic dishonesty. I basically have to catch somebody in the act or have them confess before I can take direct action. This is probably for the best as everything else is simply hearsay. Unfortunately, you've probably done the worst possible thing. You waited and watched the cheating occur and only now are you going to say something in the form of a letter without any direct communication with the class instructors. The sooner I hear about possible problems, the sooner I can make changes and watch a bit closer. Unfortunately, there is little I can do when I receive a letter after the fact. Do not take this as a personal attack, only as the truth regarding this situation. Sometimes you have to speak up and go out of your comfort zone, otherwise you have your current situation where you have allowed students to cheat through the entire course. This is probably a good lesson to learn and it will apply to clinical practice as well. Many people will simply stand by and watch another person harm a patient because speaking up takes you out of your comfort zone. Instead of preventing a potential patient care disaster you could end up here talking about a situation where you watched somebody do something harmful. Again, take this post in the context I intended. Make this a learning experience.

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Wow! Thank you for the support guys! I don't know why, but I am worried about people saying that I would be wrong for being a "tattle tale". I usually don't give a flip on what others think about me, maybe I'm more like that when it comes to my opinions or my sense or lack of style. lol For the most part I am an outgoing, fun loving person, that is friendly to everyone. Since we spend so much time together in our EMT-B class, friendships form and we end up going to lunch together, doing study groups together, etc. This whole situation is even more upsetting because I was under the impression that we were new friends. I would have never thought that either one of these folks would be the sort that would cheat or even make it seem like it was a dog eat dog world in class.

chbare: I believe that you thought that I should have gone and said something Thursday night about the situation. We have a VERY small class of 10 people and I was so dumbfounded and beyond ticked off, I don't think the timing would be good. However, they've done this twice now, so I'm pretty sure that it is going to be a common occurance until they are forced to stop one way or another.

What do y'all think about the skills testing issue I mentioned? It was not one of the two that cheated that I was the bystander for during their test. While it's a different concern than the cheating issue, it's still a concern. Or maybe on the skills issue, I should just let that one roll off my back.

Thank you again for your suggestions and opinions!

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Posted · Report post

Well here's a thought, maybe confront the cheaters and tell them it's got to stop. let them know that you won't tolerate it and the next time it happens you will nip it in the bud right then. Tell them that you work very hard on being honest and you don't appreciate cheating and you just won't tolerate it. put them on notice and say "if I see you doing it again I'm going to the instructors"

That might be all that is needed.

But I think you also need to go to the instructors anyway. Even if you don't confront your friends(so called friends) you have done your part in keeping your academic environment clean and honest.

In every class I've ever attended, cheating was grounds for removal from the class.

My thoughts are this, if you know about the cheating and you allow it to continue then you are just as guilty as the cheaters themselves.

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Posted · Report post

I suspect that if these cheaters were to get out into the field hey wouldn't have one another to rely on either when they have to do that med math they cheated on during their exam.

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Posted · Report post

I ran into the same situation in medic school. I reported it, and the offenders knew I reported it. The school did nothing about it, but the cheating in my presence stopped because.. hey.. they knew I would report it.

I don't know why we have a difficult time with these things. I'm reminded of the quote "for evil to triumph, good men must do nothing". Are there reprecussions? Sure. None as bad as looking back on decades of moral compromise and realizing that you have no respect for the person looking back from you in the mirror.

BTW - the cheaters - one passed his national registry, the other one failed.

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Well, I went ahead and emailed my instructor earlier today and later this afternoon he called me. He was not surprised about the situation or who is involved, he had his suspicions.rolling around already. Now that one of us (students) has brought it to his attention so to speak, he's going to thoroughly investigate and go from there. The instructor did ask for me to write up an incident report, was completely understanding and supportive. Thank you for giving me some support on this and encouraging me to say something. =)

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Posted · Report post

Good work jnjplus6. You will have these types of dilemmas and even tougher ones in your EMS career. The more you do the right thing the easier it gets. Kudos

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Posted · Report post

2 words...Hidden Camera. :)

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Ethics is a dilemma .

it seems to me that younger generations learned them differently than folks of my age group.

Right & wrong have different meanings to some.

the instructors have a need to make sure that all are playing the game by the same rules.

Considering that most classes are usually held in close quarters, we used to give out the same test with the questions in different order just to weed out those that might be sharing the answers to the multiple choice or matching questions.

It was always fun to let them know they got the correct answers:: only to the wrong questions.

That usually put a stop to sharing after the prima donnas bombed a quiz or test.

Even had a couple that were texting answers to each other.

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I remember one time when I was giving a quiz, I gave two different versions. The students cheated off each other when I left the room.

When the tests were graded, several had failed. They disputed the quiz results and I let them know that there was suspicion of cheating and I had given a quiz with two different versions.

The quiz was the same questions but the answers were in different order.

I told them that this would be the way things ran from here on out. I would make subtle changes to each quiz and also to each test. That way there was no guarantee that they would have the same test as the next person.

That nipped the cheating in the bud. The students were rather upset but I told them they only had the cheaters to blame.

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Sorry Island, but right and wrong are not different, they are always right or wrong, we just choose to try to blur them to get the outcome we want. For instance: answer this, "If you were hungry, would it be ok to steal a fresh baked pie from someone's window sill, or a piece of fruit from the grocery store ?" Many would answer yes, but that is not correct, stealing is stealing -- just because you have an unusual circumstance in your life does not give you the right to take from someone else (it's like Obamacare LOL). The definition of being a responsible adult ? Doing the right thing when no one is looking ! JNG, you should not feel guilty about turning them in. It is like I have said many a time, if you ask my employees how many people I have terminated in the last 5 years, they would come up with a number (I dont know how many have been terminated). But if you would ask me, I would say I have never terminated anyone in my whole career; the employee terminated themselves by their actions or inactions, I just filled out the paperwork for them.

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I have found that this is not the first time I've been faced with a moral dilemma, that there are probably more that are not following their moral compas and it truly amazes me how it isn't always the young adults that are acting inappropriately.

Over the weekend, when I was still rolling the cheating issue around in my head, I thought I'd ask the youngest 2 children (ages 14 son & 17 daughter) about how they felt about a hypothetical story, which happened to be what happened, I just didn't tell them it happened in my class and that I was the witness. My daughter was at a friend's house, so she was asked about it later in the day. I am proud to say that both of them said that if it happened to them, they would be mad and wouldn't have any problem speaking up about it, whether is was confidential or not. When asked what they thought if someone called them a snitch or rat, they went on to tell me that it didn't matter, what the cheaters were doing was wrong, unfair to the others in the class and it wouldn't make them very trustworthy as a friend in the future. I'm amazed that my youngest 2 weren't worried about any ramifications, yet their mom is a total freak about it. lol

In my defense, I did have to deal with retaliation issues after I reporting my then paramedic partner. It was my first paid job as a basic, and my first time to work this paramedic. She was rumored to be difficult to work with, but I had an open mind and typically give everyone the benefit of the doubt, until they prove otherwise. The first part of the shift, we are checking off the truck and my partner wants to change out the main O2 tank. No problem, so I am trying to get the tank out of the storage area at the station, when my supervisor stopped me and wanted to know what was going on and wanted to know how much O2 was left in the tank on the truck. Since I didn't look at the reading, I wasnt' sure. My partner comes to find out what's taking me so long and proceeds to tell the supervisor that there was 400psi on the tank and that she wanted it changed out. The supervisor reminded her that the service's protocols state to change it out at 200psi, yet she wanted to argue with him and told him 500psi. I just sat back and listened. We ended up not changing out the tank and started taking calls. After lunch, we are dispatched to a call for a patient from a long term/rehab hospital to a major hospital for some testing. The patient was ALS, needing cardiac monitoring, O2 and the hospital also wanted a pulse ox to monitor his sat rates continuously. Our service did not carry a pulse ox on trucks, and that fact was just another bee in my partner's bonnet. The hospital loaned us theirs since we were just bringing the patient back after his tests, so we transport him to the testing hospital a few blocks away. We were to remain at the hospital until the patient was ready to be returned. So we grab something to drink and go out to the bay for our "breathing treatments". That is when my "lovely" partner tells me that she left the main O2 running. My reaction is, okay, I'll go cut it off. She then stops me, tells me that she wants it to run out and for me not to touch it. She then goes to see how much we had left and then makes a phone call to dispatch to tell them that we were out of service, send another truck and we need a main O2 tank because we were out! She even went so far as to lie about how many portable tanks we had and the amount that was in them. Our station was about 25-30 miles away from where we were and there were no other units available to take over our patient or bring us O2. I had never been put in a situation like that before and sadly it rattled me quite a bit on who I could trust at work. I couldn't believe that someone would do something of that nature just to prove a point. The rest of the time working with this woman was extremely uncomfortable and I couldn't stop thinking about the whole thing. Thankfully, our supervisor knew that there was something up with the whole O2 thing and had someone talk with my partner at the same time he was talking to me. Ended up writing a detailed incident report and she ended up fired. We all know that each city's EMS community is pretty close knit, you can't sneeze wrong without another service hearing about it. My partner ended up getting hired by another service, later as an ER tech while she went to nursing school and now an ER nurse. Not only is it awkward to run into her, but she would talk trash to me, threaten to do this or that to me, and basically harass me anytime she has an opportunity. My next shift was a 24, and I went out to find someone had slashed 2 of my tires. I couldn't prove who did it, but always had an idea.

Why is it when someone is doing the right thing by reporting another's indiscretion or wrong doing, they end up feeling worse than the person that was doing wrong? Sometimes it feels like it's such a heavy burden staying on the straight and narrow. I lose sleep when I have a situation like the cheating thing because I think and analyze things, I can't imagine what I'd be like if I was the one doing the cheating. lol

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Luckily our class has never done any cheating that I know of, but our instructors never leave.

The skills testing is a whole different thing. It happens all the time to me. I will fail a skills test for not verbalizing a chief complaint, or for the patient not needing a C collar, or because I didn't tell them the patient had a pulse, even though he was talking to me and alert etc. They have told me I have been in the field so much I forget to verbalize what im seeing or thinking. My assessments are great, I just don't speak what I see. These are failing points.

However, someone behind me can forget to even take my vitals, or apply O2. Or something and pass.

I learned it was what they expected from certain individual at that time. Their capabilities. They want you to get better and better. So pushing me to verbalize, while pushing someone else to just take a pulse.

In the end, we should all equal out.

And they are just trying to make us the best we as individuals can be.

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Team play (and, "leading") for me in those situations is:

  • If the incident is uncritical but wrong: talk to them. In your cheating situation, talk to the cheater afterwards that you don't like the situation he/she brings you in. Let the cheater understand that he is a danger for all involved, because beeing catched during cheating often both parties have a rough time. Warn him/her that next time you will notify the instructors.
  • If the incident is critical as in the O2-situation, make clear that this behaviour shows the partner isn't reliable and you wouldn't accept this and/or getting drawn into it. I would have switched the O2 off before this talk. Warn her, that you will notify the supervisor if she continues.
  • Seeing yourself beeing treated too hard is your point of view. That even may be good, because instructors may feel you beeing a better provider who serves to be held by higher standards - even if this isn't what you want... Get over it, make your test appearance perfect! If there really is a personal case with you and one or more instructors, then try to talk with them or their superior. Things like that happen all the time in classrooms, teaching institutions usually can deal with that. Getting off school is an option, too, but I don't see this in your case yet.
  • Witnessing a malperforming classmate is time to show your partnership and leading skills. Offer tips & help in a friendly manner (and outside instructors hearing range), if they accept it, good, if not, their problem. Don't moan about it.
All of this is needed not only in classroom but in almost any real job environment - and such situations happen all the time. Get used to it. Maybe my rule of "1 warning shot, then hit" is a rule of thumb for you, too. Don't get drawn into semi-legal "buddy issues" and keep a clear mind. In the end, it's your personal career you may risk when your so-called partner does shit. She/he can't pretend beeing a real "partner" worth to be covered when intentionally risking your future.
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Posted · Report post

You know jnj, unfortunately it sounds like you've just been part of a pretty bad program.

Leaving people alone to test not only invites cheating but shows the value that your program places on their tests. They have no respect for them, so few others will either. Of course that doesn't make cheating right, but it's been my experience that the vast majority of those going into EMS care little for education and/or right and wrong.

I too made some waves in my paramedic class, not necessarily based on right and wrong but instead on the basis that I paid a high price, both financially and emotionally to take it and was unwilling to settle for poor when I felt that I could make something better. On my first night in class (college level, 6 semester course) we were playing a Jepardy kind of game. One of the answers was "Oral Pharynx". The person on the other team answered "Oral Pharnyx", in my experience a common mispronounciation. They were given the point, which I could really have cared less about, but I said, "That answer's not correct, right? It's prounounced "Pharynx." The instructor said, "That's ok, it's close enough." I said, "Were in a paramedic class, how can misprounouncing common anatomical terms be ok??" "Let's move on...." was the answer.

A few weeks in the one other student that really cared about his grades and I were comparing test scores, he having beaten me by a few points which pissed me off royally, and a different instructor butted into our conversation, saying, "Oh...you're one of those students that believes that they are going to put your test scores on your patch, right? None of that matters in the real world..."

So I finally went to the chair of the EMS section and complained, both verbally and in writing, about the attitudes of those that I was paying nearly $10k to teach me to become a competent paramedic. I'm not sure what was done, but only that the instructors became pretty chilly towards me for a few weeks, leaning on me pretty hard each time there was a chance. I cared little for their attitudes, as I was solidly a member here at that time so got all of the support I needed at the City, as well, pushing me harder and trying to create more stress is exactly what I wanted from them, so it was a win/win. I got a better education, and I believe that I left the program better than I'd found it.

When I read your posts it sounds to me like that is more what you were looking for also. Not a chance to say, "Look, Bob and Sally were cheating!! Neener neener they should get in trouble!" But instead to create a better program to learn in and to leave it better than you found it. I like both of those things.

As far as allowing weak people to pass skills....that makes me see red. If you can't man/woman up under the pressure of a teaching environment then you will almost certainly be useless when my family calls for your help. And for me, that's what it boils down to. Who will you be, what will you be capable of when my wife or son calls for your help?

I like your attitude a lot...But as you've seen in the past, should you try and be an intelligent provider, should you be willing to stop and say, "This is unacceptable and I'm not going to allow it to happen.", you will rarely be popular.

And last, but not least, what an excellent first post! Thanks for taking the time to participate...

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As an Instructor, I want people to come to me with problems, solutions or ways to make the program better. I want to know what is being done when I am not around.... I think it shows true character. With that said, I agree, that if the quiz was that important, the Instructor should not have left the room, but I can also play Devil's advocate and make a point that when you are the only instructor in the "house" that night, there are often a lot of things to get done or set up in a relatively short period of time.

I think you did the right thing, and I commend your Instructor for looking into the situation.

What a good discussion!

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