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What should I do after high school to become EMT?

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Hey y'all! I've honestly been stressing over this. So, I'm a Senior in High School and I graduate In May. I plan on going to school for EMT! I know that for a fact but I just don't know where to start. I know probably community college but I also want to do things during the summer even though class starts in the fall. I was thinking about volunteering at local fire or rescue squad. I live in Tarboro, NC! 3 weeks ago, I did a ride-along with EMT and I absolutely LOVED IT! Guys, if you've been in my shoes or anything please help! I have no idea where to start.

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It's good that you want to become an EMT but you shouldn't be stressing over this.  Why are you stressing over this?  

You should get an anatomy and physiology course over the summer, that would give you a good understanding of the human body and why it does what it does.  

A good english composition course would be a good idea, if you are tasked with writing reports you will need good grammar and spelling skills, not what you have been taught in college unless you've been through college level composition courses.  

Next I would think about working your upper body and lower back strength.  You will need to be able to lift very heavy patients and sometimes you may just be with your partner.  

Conflict resolution skills and basic self defense skills are a must in this line of work as well.  

That's what I would do during your summer break.

See, nothing to stress about.  

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I haven't posted in awhile and I am hesitant to jump back in...but here goes my thoughts. Take them with a grain of salt but realize they come directly from my heart~~

  • First off, ask yourself "why". Why do you want to be in EMS?
    • If it's because you rode with an ambulance crew one night and got to see some cool things like dramatic car accidents and maybe a real rescue of one sort or another where the person 'almost died' but they saved him/her then that reason isn't good enough...
      • The majority of EMS calls are not the high adrenaline, high stress calls that we see on TV. Sure, those type of calls are mixed in there and occasionally we do get the one person that maybe wouldn't have lived had we not done what we did....but the majority of our calls roll into a ball of the same call presenting in various degree's over and over again~~the drug addicts, the alcoholics, the chronically ill who can't or won't take their medications (diabetics, psych patients, liver failure, etc.), the nursing home that refuses to let a resident die in privacy in their own room and calls for them to be transferred out hours before death, the chronically ill patient on multiple medications with multiple doctors whose history is more like a rubik's cube or a puzzle....
    • If it's because you love medicine and enjoy a rubik's cube or puzzle now and then...
      • Great!! We need more people like you!! People who will realize that everything they are taught in their certification classes is the least amount of information they will ever need to hopefully not kill someone and that from the moment they step outside that door with that shiny patch in their hand, their responsibility is to keep learning, seeking and even asking the 'dumb' questions from time to time.

Another thing I always talk to my new students about now is their mental health. Are they ready to possibly see some of the worst things that mankind can do to one another and are they willing to accept that 'those' stories may or may not become a permanent part of their life? I make it clear to my students that reading about something in a book and looking at 'gory' pictures is nothing like they will face in the streets where they are going to get the full blown 3D effect. Is that something they are mentally prepared for and do they have the proper safety net set up in advance?

Do they have the resiliency and coping mechanisms they are going to need if they want to be a part of this world for any amount of time without becoming a zombie needing assistance themselves? Do they want to put the time in to building a strong foundation for themselves before they become a safety net for John Q Public? If they still do at that point then I stand behind and beside them every step of the way from there on out....if they don't, I still stand beside them and support whatever decision they make~~I just want them to know ahead of time some of the things that I never knew.....whether it would have kept me out of EMS or not, I doubt it, but I may have been more prepared had someone sat down with me and explained some of those things.... :) 

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If Turd watch or Rescue 911 or even Emergency showed what we really did on a day to day basis, then they would have only lasted one episode.  

If those reality shows on right now showed what we really did on a day to day basis they would be on for 1 episode

People don't want to see that we may spend the entire day taking dialysis patients and nursing home patients back and forth to the hospital and their houses on one day and then spend one day taking care of a heart attack victim and a couple of sick kids and then the rest of the shift we sat on our butts waiting for a call.  

 

People want to see that we are out saving lives, fighting the big 5 alarm fire, saving kids, doing field amputations and delivering babies.  Throw in a water rescue and a lady completely covered in Ice in her basement with just her mouth and nose protruding out of the ice and saving her life and then top it all off by going down into the sewers and doing a hand stand defibrillation on a guy in a  flooded sewer all the while your partners are holding on to the pipes on the cieling of the sewer.  Damnit that's what the public wants to see.  And what's really cool to top it all off, everyone of those people, wouldn't you know, we save em.  Nobody ever died on Rescue 911.  

But to be completely honest, the last couple of shifts that I worked prior to pulling my arms and legs into my turtle shell and moving on to my IT career where I don't have to do hand stands, I sat on my rear end and binge watched the walking dead until the last call I got was a transfer from the ER to KU medical center for a post MI patient who honestly was healthier than I was and really could have walked to KU.  

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Welcome.  There are a lot of seasoned providers who contribute to these forums.  This should be made clear up front so as to avoid any misunderstanding: Just because you don't like what you're reading/hearing doesn't make that information wrong or incorrect.

Please seriously consider the posts above and the questions posed.  While there is certainly excitement to be had working in EMS there is also a lot of physical and emotional stress involved in the job.  The job is physically demanding.  It is emotionally draining.  Some self reflection and having a good idea of your motivation for becoming involved is going to be a good idea.

That being said please consider this in addition to the above:

It's ok to not know what your motivations are at the moment. 

It's ok to not be sure if this is really something you want to do.

It's ok to get excited about the prospect of everything in which you're thinking of becoming involved.  That excitement, however, should not be your sole or even your primary motivation.  It should be an added benefit.

It's ok to get involved in your local rescue squad to see if this is something you'd like to further pursue.  It's ok to decide you like it and want to continue.  It's also ok to decide you don't like it and walk away from it.

This is a professional endeavor.  Your patients, their families and other medical staff with whom you'll interact will expect a level of professionalism that you may not have yet experienced.  This won't be high school (although station antics may have you questioning that from time to time).  Be ready to be an adult.  Be ready to see and experience things that will shake you more deeply than you could have ever considered.

Education is important.  The biggest problem facing EMS in the US today is education or inadequate education.  Learn as much as you can.  Never stop learning.  No matter what people will tell you taking college level coursework (anatomy, math, history, writing, bio, chem and more) will help you become a better provider and a better person.  There is nothing wrong with being educated. 

So where do you start?  Find an EMT course.  Register.  Getting into an EMT class and successfully completing the course is your first step.  Start your college coursework.  In the meantime if you can become involved in your local rescue squad start the process.  Keep an open mind.  Learn when to ask questions then ask them.  Or ask us.  Someone here will have an answer for you.

Lastly, don't stress about this.  You're young.  You're excited.  You're motivated.  You'll get there.  Just take a deep breath and take that first step.

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Terrific answer Paramedicmike....I think there was a tad bit of role reversal going on in the above posts~~I got to play resident cynic and you tempered it with hope :) Can I plus 2 your comment? 

Nice to see some of the tried and true are still here and still willing to lend a guiding hand~~hope I have time to visit more often~~

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That's a loaded question.

Despite what some, or even many, would argue fire and EMS are two different topics.  Yes, many EMS agencies operated as part of a larger fire department.  Whether they should or not is part of a larger discussion.

A better question to ask, and ask yourself, is do *you* want to be a FF?

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Yes, the question is do you want to be a firefighter?

If you're asking if becoming a volunteer fire fighter first would be a leg up my answer would be a big fat NO. I guess that could be different in your area. There is a line between fire and EMS that is difficult to be on both sides of. It took me YEARS and lots of effort, to gain respect of firefighters in my area, but now they are some of the best friends I have.

Here in Texas you do have to be an EMT to be a certified firefighter, but that may depend on your state. 

Fire and EMS are 2 different services, different passions. 

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To be this excited again. Research my old posts. I was too! 

I love being an EMT, most of the time. Rarely is it ever too exciting. I've had calls where the patient had diarrhea and didn't want to poop in their car. So they called 911.

i have had calls with people growing fungus up their legs and I didn't have Vicks in the rig so I smelled it all night. 

In the end, if you still feel like you are helping people and enjoy it after holding bags of puke, getting screamed at because they believe they are the King of Hearts and you didn't bow or kneeing down on the floor, realizing you just knelt in human feces... it might be the life for you.

As for becoming a volunteer firefighter, that is up to you. I provide support, but I'm terrified of fire

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