Monday, August 30

Taking the Next Step in EMS Education

I have signed up to take a “medic” class which starts in September and runs through May. It will be interesting to see if I can balance the class while I perform my “real” job at full tilt.

The decision to take the medic class was difficult as it will put a strain on my family and me. I also know that if the world were a perfect place my community would have full time paramedics who have extensive BLS backgrounds and who run dozens of calls a day. Our system is not even close to perfect. Our agency is woefully short of ALS providers, as are most of the surrounding agencies, and by performing my clinical and ride time in a nearby urban area I hope to continue gaining valuable BLS experience as I gain ALS skills. All of the ALS providers in my agency, as well as my chief, have told me that I will make a good medic and that I am ready to take the class.

In many parts of the country, “medic” means Paramedic. Around here, there is middle ground between EMT Basics and Paramedics, and these middle ground providers are called medics. This system allows volunteers to bring ALS into communities where without this level there would be BLS only care as paramedic training is difficult for many of us to obtain while working a professional job. The differences between “medics” and paramedics primarily have to do with medical direction, invasive procedures, and the age of patients they can treat. “Medics” need to get medical control permission to perform actions that paramedics often can do at their discretion, “Medics” can not put in chest tubes or perform other types of emergency surgery or facilitated intubation, and lastly, they cannot intubate anyone younger than 8 years of age. In my area, the drugs medics can push include acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin), adenosine, atropine, bronchodilators, 50% dextrose, diazepam, epinephrine (1:1,000), epinephrine (1:10,000), furosemide, lidocaine HCL 2%, morphine sulfate, naloxone, and nitroglycerin (this list varies by agency and region). Given most of our ALS calls are adult traumas or cardiac related events, you can imagine how having medics around would help the community.

I am taking the medic class in a small city thirty minutes away from my home. There is a class closer to me, but given my lack of EMS experience I wanted to take the class where I could get considerable clinical and field experience. If I took the class locally, I would ride with an agency that gets, on average, a little over a call a day. The agency I’ll ride with for my field time gets at least a call per hour for each ambulance they have on duty. In addition, they routinely see patients and emergencies that we rarely see in my area (e.g., patients that do not speak English, shootings, etc.). It should be an education.

The state curriculum for medic classes requires between 175 and 225 Hours of classroom and pratical lab time, between 50 and 75 hours clinical time, and between 75 and 100 hours field time under a preceptor. I should be a busy man over the next academic year!