Thursday, May 10, 2012

Wilderness and Urban EMT

Since the last few months have been a whirlwind of activity, I never had a chance to really write up anything about my Wilderness EMT class from January-February. I spent about a month in the Washington North Cascades at the North Cascades Institute attending the WEMT/MPIC course from Remote Medical International. Those who have read my previous post know that RMI is who I've done most all of my emergency medical training with since WFA back in Feb. 2011. I've talked to a few other friends who have taken or are taking the WEMT since I finished my class about what to expect, and the easiest way to sum it up was just how the instructors put it to us the first day of class: Drinking from the firehose. I really can't begin to remember all the details of the course, just to say that it was a tremendous amount of information to absorb in a short period of time.

Thankfully I'd requested all of the text books a few months before class so I could get a head start on the material. Good thing, the AAOS Care and Transportation of the Sick and Injured is 1500 pages, and we covered it all in three weeks. After 25 days of lecture, scenario, study, practice, written tests and practical tests, I'd finished the course. Next step was to take the National Registry test, then to get involved with my local EMS. Timing was perfect, I passed National Registry around the same time Philomath Fire & Rescue was accepting applications for new volunteers. One thing that sets them apart from many other departments is having medical only volunteers. At most departments you start as a firefighter first, or you enter the fire recruit academy after taking either an EMR or EMT course. PF&R decided to allow medical only volunteers in the department a few years back. I applied, passed the background check, and was invited to begin the EMS recruit academy. The program was simply medical drills and department trainings over a month long period, during which I applied for my Oregon EMT license through reciprocity. Simple process, since I attended an out of state course and tested for NREMT, I had to fill out an application with copies of my NREMT card, CPR, government issued ID, and then show proof of training in a few key areas. For Oregon, you have to show proof of training in advanced airways, subcutaneous injections, and blood glucose monitoring. I'd trained in the first two, but was only familiar with blood glucose, so the department EMS training officer helped me to take care of the extra requirements and provide proper documentation.

Once my Oregon EMT license arrived and I finished the department orientation, I've been cleared to begin responding to calls. I pick up my pager tomorrow and department shirts should be arriving any time. I'm sure it will be a little intimidating to start, but I've been working toward this for awhile now. I've also enrolled in a five day rope rescue course beginning of June with summer term at college at the end of June. Strange to be sort of starting over 20 years later, but exciting at the same time. I'm marking things off my list, things I meant to do years ago. Better late than never.

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