Saturday, May 13, 2017

I've stopped apologizing

This blog is incorrect. Misleading and flat out lying to you. See, no longer is this blogger a highschool EMT student. I am, in fact, neither of those things. As of May 6th, I have finished highschool. As of April 13th, I am a licensed EMT. 

Yeah, I think it sounds weird, too. So will  continue blogging? Absolutely. I started off on this adventure to share my experiences in EMT school as an awkward, hopeful teenager. And I survived! I liked it so much, I'm taking more classes this summer. Any guesses?
If you said Anatomy and Physiology and Medical Terminology, you'd be right. My heart still skips a beat at the thought of freshly sharpened pencils and lots of new faces. It's not just me that thinks that, right? I'm fact, as I write this, I have arrived too early for my first A+P class, and immediately decided to come back and finish up this post. Its hard to reconcile the girl walking confidently into class today, with the shy, clueless senior that tiptoed into class last fall.
Little is the same anymore. But I haven't forgotten who I am, as some people do in highschool. Instead, I have found who I am. Here is where my next chapter starts.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Why dirty hands equal a happy heart

Tonight, my hands are stained with grease, my clothes are littered with dust, and my hair is a frizzy mess. I'm hardly fazed by my appearance, though.  Underneath the dirty nails and wet boots, my heart beats proudly. For a short time tonight, I stopped worrying about college financial aid and dropped whatever else has been demanding my attention. We had our tiny town vol Fire department meeting tonight, something to that happens once a month, and I joyfully count the days on the calendar.
I bring my hopes and ideas to these meetings; tucked away under a ponytail and a shy smile. If I'm dirty, it means I'm DOING. Not seeing, wishing, or trying. I've wished and watched from afar for too long. I take in the rumbling engines and the tables littered with papers, and smile. I've never wanted anything else. Underneath the flashing lights, I have found my happy place.
So when the front door swings open at close to midnight, a thousand things running through my mind; and I can't seem to find my inside voice, it's not gossip to that's burning on my tongue.
It's joy.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

If He Can Do It...

The phrase, "If he can do it, so can I" never held much meaning for me growing up.
In my house, it didn't matter if the whole neighbourhood was doing something; if mom didn't approve, you weren't doing it. End of story. So it wasn't until I found myself in the back of ambulance, listening to the conversation with our patient, that the impact of those words hit me.
I was watching the rookie busily scribble on the tablet after glancing at the monitor. He made casual conversation with the young man on the cot, and I watched with quiet interest.  Everything he was doing, I could do.
The thought knocked me back in my seat. Surely there was something he'd done that I wasn't capable of doing. I looked around, but came up empty.
With no immediate crisis to warrant a higher skill set, he performed very few interventions; perfunctory vital signs even I could do. His skills lied in the off-hand questions and the easy silence.
I'd heard that working in EMS took people skills. It's cliche with good reason. Frankly, because it's true. And I'll be the first to admit it's a struggle sometimes. But it wasn't weird. It wasn't forced. He simply asked questions, and nodded his head at the answers. Besides the fact that our patient was suicidal, it wasn't anything out of the ordinary.

Not yet out of EMT school, those words opened a new door for me. Everything he was doing, I could do. No higher education or years of experience stood between me and the young medic in front of me. He was working with knowledge that I possessed, and skills that I was learning. 

Somehow, seeing this exchange take place, I realized for the first time how close I was to stepping into those shoes. To treat people, and not just patients; because every person that occupies that cot has a story beyond their chief complaint. To walk with confidence, speak with authority, and reassure with sincerity.  They are shoes that I've wanted to fill for so long, and they were finally within my grasp. My heart beat a little faster, and a smile crept onto my lips. This wasn't who I was going to be, this was who I was.

I have a feeling the back of an ambulance holds many more lessons for me. As I await the National Registry test, I'm already learning patience. (That's a virtue, right? ;)
Under 18 and testing? I wish you luck!
Until next post, I'll be trying to contact the folks over at the NREMT, and let them know I exist. And want to take their test.
'Cause that's how you become a REAL EMT. Or so I'm told.

Monday, March 13, 2017

It's A Girl!

The members of Plymouth Vol. Fire Department are now the proud owners of a shiny, 1991 Spartan Tanker. 1500 gal tank, at 100gpm. A huge improvement over the 80's era engine we were running on. Driven home all the way from Carroll County, MD, we are excited to welcome this newest piece of apparatus. Can you believe it actually has 4 working headsets?? :P 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

-January 30th-

Tonight marks the last module exam of EMT Class. We'll never take one again.
The next test we see in class will have 100 questions over 39 chapters, and will decide whether or not we can pursue National certification.

Tonight, we also ran through skills stations. One, for the first time, with a preceptor. First couple stations were combined, with my instructor as the preceptor/patient/assistant. Easy, right?
My hands didn't shake, I breathed slowly, and admitted when I didn't remember something. Yet I questioned every step I took, fretted about the ones I did take, and bumbled through like I'd never before seen the equipment. I could sense his frustration, despite his patient demeanor. I reminded myself that I was capable, smart, and also wired just a bit differently then everyone else.
Somehow, I couldn't assemble the information in my brain into a coherent reply. As I half- heartedly muttered an answer, wanted to shake him, and make him understand just how much I fought to find the right words, and how it felt when I simply couldn't.
I know the skills. I can recite them in my head, and I have no problem performing them. But I was scared to death that I didn't say it right, wouldn't say it right, and so ruined the entire session.
I forced myself to keep a positive attitude as we started over for the third time.
Moving onto CPR, my confidence rose.
I had this down. It was the simple things that got me. Things I didn't verbalize, or forgot to ask.
Didn't check for id. Didn't apply the AED pads efficiently. Bagged my patient too quickly. When I left, he said to write down what I'd missed and review it. With my head down, I told him it'd be a long sheet of paper, and hurried out.
I trotted back to the classroom, wishing I could just out run the anxiety. Why can't I speak right?

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Ready, Set, Go! (And other Christmas shenanigans)

Ready, set, GO!


Clamoring. Excitement. That's what filled the apparatus bay as a dozen Explorers scrambled into their bunker gear. We pulled on hoods, threw on air packs, and firmly strapped on our helmets until we resembled something of a team. Alarms beeped angrily, announcing who'd forgotten to close their air valve. For once, it wasn't me! 
After tangling my SCABS strap, my adrenaline kicked into high gear. Why couldn't I be faster? But my shaking hands did little to improve my coordination. 
My heart raced as I pulled on my gloves and slapped my helmet, announcing my finish. Our advisor spun around. "Minute-forty!" He called out. He held a stop watch on his phone. 
I sighed and slipped off my mask, biting my tongue. Really? A minute-forty? It was my best time. Far under the national standard of 2 minutes, but nowhere near where I wanted to be. Sweat licked my jaw as I unbuckled my coat and set it up to try again. I tried to recall how I'd seen it done, and glanced over at Eric's gear. Eric is an assistant advisor, and younger brother to the post advisor. Both have competed with honors, and now work at the same department, bringing high hopes to our messy band of Explorers. 
I am glad for that, for their excitement. It sees past the now, and sees what we can become. 
"Hey, that's a good time." 
Our advisor walks over to me. I hesitantly meet his gaze. "That's a really good time." 
I nod and stay quiet. It is. For now. 

I'm still learning how to accept encouragement. How to react when people care. It's certainly not something I'm used to! 
I've never seen the passion they've shown to teach, to grow, and to support us. It's amazing.  It's so easy to give up hoping things will change. That people will change. 
It's easier to feel lonely, than to take a chance with strangers. Yet, taking a chance is exactly what I need to do. Yes, I may have lost hope along the way. But our spirit is growing. 
They need me to step out, letting go of any expectations; and show them how passionate 
I am to learn. 
My teammates see in me, a leader. Someone they are trusting to encourage, teach, and prepare them for the challenges ahead. 
How can I accept that responsibility? 
Because someone else is preparing ME. 
If I ask, I get an answer. If I voice my ideas, they are respected. When I need help, all I have to do is humble my pride, and my instructors. are happy to show me. Here, amid the chaos and whirring sirens, the beat of my own drum doesn't sound so different. So weird. 
That's enough to make me think I can succeed. That we can succeed. It takes trusting the person next to you. Scary? Yeah. But I don't do it alone. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Stairs and such

Yay for pictures!

Tonight's class saw us wheeling one another up and down the stairs with the stair chair.
As they strapped in and said a prayer, it took every ounce of self control to keep my mouth shut. Laughter bubbled inside me at their fearful expressions, and I stared intently at the wall until I could make a straight face again. How was it that no one ended up in a bloody mess on the floor?
Of course, I could ask that, from my seat on the landing, free from being chosen to ride the clanky contraption.

Ya know, if I didn't trust my classmates yet, tonight could've been a lot more nerve wracking. But I did. After 4 months of grabbing belt loops, tying tourniquets, and lamenting test scores together, this hardly seemed scary. Plus, I have complete confidence in my ability to survive tumbling down a set of stairs; sharp, crooked, or steep as they may be. How did I aquire such confidence?
Siblings.
We pushed/slid/rode countless staircases, never once fatally injuring ourself or others. Thus, I sat unperturbed, even peering casually over the side, as we rolled down the staircase.
.
Really, having a dysfunctionalI family is great practice for EMT school. It's crazy. It's weird. It's what we can't live without. Doesn't your family ooh and ahh over gangrene? Oh, just mine? Who knew?