I recently posted in the ‘status messages’ that I had been accepted into the next medic program that is scheduled to start on 03/24/11. Now that the registration and confirmation process is done, I’ve had time to reflect on just what this all means…
In 1995 I went through EMT-B for the first time. I thought I had the EMS field by the tail because I was able to successfully negotiate any scenario someone wanted to throw at me. The county Co-Medical Directors both came into my class and did ‘guest lectures’ and each scenario they threw out to the class was one more that I handed back to them with the answer they were looking for, (this later saved my ass, but that’s another story for another time).
Twelve years later, I found myself in the position to have to start at the bottom once again, and retake EMT-B. This time around, I was the bane of my instructor’s existence, because I was able to challenge ‘bad information’ and ask the ‘tough questions’ so that my classmates could gain deeper understanding and more knowledge.
When I moved up to EMT-I, I had to buckle down and learn some new material, but still managed to excel to the point that when I sat for my first NREMT test, I smoked it on the first shot. I was comfortable knowing that there was so much I didn’t know, but would gain as I progressed.
I was still in a position to be able to help my classmates through the ‘tough stuff’, and to my preceptors, I was able to ‘jump right in there’ and get the things done that they needed; so that they could attend to the things that I couldn’t do.
Looking back, I see that as an EMT-B, there wasn’t much that I could do, and if I did something wrong; it was an ‘easy fix’ for those who are higher up the food chain that I was. I’m not trivializing EMT-B, but let’s be honest; the opportunities to be able to stop, regroup and start again are plentiful. As an EMT-I, I started getting into basic pharmacology, and the consequences of an ‘oops’ were considerably more serious.
Now that I’m facing medic school, I’ve realized that I’m moving into an arena where an ‘oops’ is quite possibly fatal. Some would say that this realization only points out that I’ll have to study my ass off to be good enough where the opportunity to make a mistake is minimized.
As I contemplate what lies ahead, its hit me square between the eyes that people’s lives are at stake, and I had BETTER know my stuff, inside and out!
Yeah, I’m scared senseless, apprehensive as hell and I’ll probably be a nervous wreck by the time it’s all over. As an EMT-B, I thought I was ‘da man’ and there wasn’t too much that you could throw at me that I couldn’t handle. Now that’s all been snatched away from me, and to tell the truth, I don’t like this feeling at all!
I’ve always watched medics at work, and wished I could do even half the things they do. Now that I’m getting ready to step into their world, I’m like a kid on his first day of school. Part of me wants to just stop right here and stay in my ‘comfort zone’, but I know that I can’t do that. There are too many of you here that have poked and prodded me this far, and I highly doubt that you’ll let me start slacking off now.
Right now, I’m dealing with an overwhelming feeling that I don’t know enough to even set foot in the Paramedic classroom, that I’m not ready for this and that I’m just a ‘washout waiting to happen’….
During my first 12 years in EMS, if anyone asked me if I wanted to go on to Medic School, I would have told them in no uncertain terms that I wasn’t going. I was comfortable as hell knowing that pharmacology (at the Medic level) was something I didn’t have to deal with. I used to joke that if you took an EKG strip and turned it 90º to the right and read it from top to bottom, it looked like something that came out of a seismograph. Now I have to be able to read those ‘squiggly lines’ and know that it means someone’s heart is actually doing things it supposed to; and if it isn’t , I have to know what to do about it. I can no longer dismiss it as that bitch San Andreas throwing stuff around in a temper tantrum.
Pharmacology and cardiology scared the bejeebers out of me (and it still does). I don’t know how all the medics in the field can keep all this sh*t straight in their heads!
I’ve come a long way from ‘putting band-aids on boo-boos’ and the days of high-flow O2 and ‘haul ass’ while screaming for an ALS intercept. I’m now stepping into a world where I will have to be the one answering those cries for ALS. Knowing it’s a long way to the bottom, I’m not sure I’m fully prepared to make that leap…..