This past Monday, I met with my preceptor and the chief of EMS for the fire department I am doing my internship with. They asked if I could start the next day. It took everything in me to not blurt out, “HELL YEAH!”. I told them very calmly that I could start, no problem. My heart was jumping at this point. My preceptor then grabbed my binder, and grilled me on protocols. I passed. Yay! Then, I had to tell my supervisor at my day job. Last year, I was mandated to take a class called Crucial Conversations. It came in handy. By using the skills I learned, he is an ally, and not an enemy to my goal. Some here at my day job are shall we say,
flat out against less than supportive of what I do. If it were up to them, I would not be able to finish my goal of getting my paramedic license. I had no idea that he really was clueless about my educational goal. But I explained to him what I had done, and that it is a part of my IDP (Individual Development Plan) here at the day job. As a result, he said he understood the importance of completing goals and that he supported my internship. I assured him that my work during my time in the academy did not suffer, and it would not during my internship. Yes, I would be gone in two-day spurts, but not all of those would occur on work days. He and I worked out a schedule that keeps things working, and I started my internship immediately on Tuesday.
Even at 50 years old, I was so stoked! I felt like I was back at the first day of class. Excited, scared, but ready to GO!
I just got off my first 48 hour shift (Yes, 48s) at one of the two fire stations my preceptor works at. I had a fast start to my shift. Literally, I was dropping my gear in a side room (I arrived ahead of time, as expected), as was my preceptor, when a call came in. We switched with the crew that had just returned from a call and would be coming off their shift at that time. My “slow start” (as planned by my preceptor)… nah. Why start slow? We responded to an MVA (Motor Vehicle Accident for those who don’t know) on a highway. My first patient was considered a critical trauma (By definition in protocols). So, I got an I.V. started at 60 MPH while we were headed to the E.R. Prior to this, my preceptor was very concerned that I had been out of school so long, she actually wanted me to put in some more time in an E.R. doing I.V.’s and intubations. After that first I.V., which was on someone who was self-described as a “hard stick”, she told me I’m good. Yes! Those hours would not have counted toward my requirement, and would have been outside my internship, or would have potentially put off my internship longer. I was happy to hear that!
I saw a lot on that first shift. Initially, first shift is more watching than doing. But she let me start doing as I felt capable. I did watch a few runs, and assisted as needed. This was more to see how SHE and the rest of the crew does things on calls, and to learn where things are on the ambulance. Practice finding the stuff, and you don’t think about it when you need it.
The first shift is a HUGE learning curve. REALLY HUGE. You learn the rules of the house, where to sleep, how to set up my room alerts, the way they want things done on the ambulance, where things go (and don’t go), prepping the rig for the next crew, assigned job functions, how alerts are done for calls, how to behave in the house (House rules and behavior change from house to house, even shift to shift), and then there is the medical component. Yeah, the protocol reviews, the reminders of the stuff I learned in school, remembering not to kill the patient (I had 3 separate people tell me that!), being called out for not answering correctly, BLS before ALS, anticipating need, requesting others to do the work I have been doing as an EMT (That is actually hard to do!), etc, etc. My preceptor has made her goals for me clear. I prefer that. I have specific homework for each shift, and I am expected to present what I am reviewing. I have new equipment to learn, especially the defibrillator. It works differently than any other defib I have played with. Thank God for YouTube! Oh yeah, I am teaching how to use the defib next shift also. To people who already know how to use it. This should be interesting.
I may post specific cases as time goes on, but the information will need to be sanitized to protect identities, and possibly approved first. This will be for a learning experience for all, not for any “Hey, dude… wow, check this out!” factor.
For those concerned about my back issues, trust me, my preceptor knows the ugly. As do a few others that are at the fire station on my shift (And at least one that is on another shift). I said I put it in God’s hands to guide me, and he did. I am not saying surgery won’t happen. It just won’t happen now. For now, my internship is on track.