2/17/19: Life, Death, and Free Trips to the Hospital

Howdy Band-Aiders,

I could patronize you all with another apology for being gone so long…but I won’t do that to you all. You don’t need another platitude from another stranger in your life haha. It’s been a busy few weeks. Between learning pharmacology, first skills training labs, and my first few ALS ride alongs, it’s been a mad house for me. The school I attend expects us not only to learn the National Registry standards for paramedics but I also have to keep up with the San Diego County protocols that tend to be different fro NR in a lot of ways…fun. But school is school. Drugs are a bear to learn, which I believe is the experience of pretty much every medic student who’s ever existed. IVs are cool but I felt like a complete asshole when I blew through my friend’s vein on my second attempt. Batting .500…like Barry Bonds with a drug box but significantly less cool and significantly less paid. All in all, I’ve found a rhythm for school that I think will take me through to the end of it…or so I hope.

The main thing I wanted to talk about today though is the real world experience and how important I think it is for people to find someone they can talk to about the crap we see. Now for the sake of HIPPA, I won’t be going into the details of any of the calls I’ve run (please don’t QI me SD County), but I will give you some take aways from them. The Fire Departments I’ve been running with have been amazing at integrating me, teaching me, and giving me the chance to grow out of my BLS shell by starting to run calls. I can’t say enough how grateful I am to my fire medic preceptors and the other firefighters who are vesting their time in me becoming a good medic. In these last three weeks, I’ve seen a good majority of the gambit from sepsis to seizures, to trauma and to psych patients. People are interesting and it’s an honor to be invited in to do my best to make a crappy situation better. I think that’s something we have to remember, no matter how tired or beat down you are, we are there to make things better. Sometimes that’s the whole gambit of drugs, tubes, and IVs…and sometimes that’s just holding a hand, giving a smile, and talking to people like you give a damn about what’s going on with them. Sometimes all that little old lady needs is someone to talk to them because their family doesn’t anymore. Sometimes that homeless guy just wants someone to not treat them like a piece of garbage. Sometimes that demented 90-year old wants someone to not just write them off as a piece of meat on death’s door. Sometimes people just want you to be nice….I don’t ever want to forget that.

Equally important to me now is the need to be able to offload the things you are feeling somewhere. We work in a high-stress world where you are expected to be professional, to put your personal feelings on the back burner and be strong for your patients. All of that is right and good; wouldn’t do anyone good if the medic on scene broke down and cried when someone’s life/livelihood is on the line. But we can’t just keep it all bottled in. I’ve come to understand that you need to take care of yourself in order to help others. That means taking the day off away from the books and the drugs and the charts. That means exercising, eating right, and keeping it to one beer. That mean’s finding someone you can talk to and cry to if you need it. It means when all the tubes and monitors are put away and you take off your gloves to walk away from the CPR you just did on young woman who shouldn’t have been hanging in her garage in the first place that you recognize that these things don’t go away. Talk to somebody. It’s not weakness to recognize that these things affect you. You are only human after all. Life is fragile and death is only a step away from us at all times. It’s a sobering thought but for me it also is a motivating factor. It makes me want to be the best medic I can be in order to give everyone I’m called to care for the best fighting chance they can have to cling to life and crawl back to us. I recognize that not all people are going to be saved…but if it’s my skills that will make the difference, then I will be damned if I won’t be ready for it. For them…WE are here for them.

And for any of my fellow EMTs/Medic Students/Medics out there ever need to talk…feel free to message me through here. If not me, please reach out to the folks at the Code Green campaign, they will always be there for you.

Till next time…be safe out there everyone.

1/27/18: “But You Gotta Have Friends”

Depending on how old you are, this tittle either brought Bette Middler to your mind or Shrek…don’t worry…I won’t tell anyone which one you thought. Anyways, howdy band-aiders and I hope all has been well. This week hasn’t been as stressful as the first one going into our big BLS protocols test, but still a lot of ground to cover. For any of you that have taken an A&P course and data dumped it like I did…go back and review it like your life depends on it! Ok not life, but your grade will depend on it. And for those of you about to take A&P prior to school, take REALLY and I mean REALLY good notes so you can review prior to starting school…trust me…it’ll help. Crash Course on Youtube (not endorsed…yet) really helps along with Khan Academy and A&P for Dummies. Whatever it takes, brush up really hard. We have our first block exam mostly on A&P…A&P…ok I think I’ve said A&P enough………..A&P.

Well today’s lesson from me is you gotta make friends. Even if you are the world’s biggest introvert dispatcher or something (why you would be in medic school is beyond me but hey different strokes for different folks), I strongly believe you cannot make it through medic school alone. Part of understanding my own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to academics, I ALWAYS function better when I’m learning in study groups. But beyond that, there is always going to be someone out there smarter/better at something than you are. News flash kids…you aren’t Heath Ledger…I mean Superman…yeah superman. Form study groups early and put in the extra time. Seek out those in your class who are better at certain subjects than you are. Suck at A&P? (Ahhhh there it is again) Find the guy like I did who has a bachelor’s in Human Physiology. Can’t stick an IV? Find the gal who can get blood out of a rock (or Shmitty the heroine addict down the street…don’t try his product but he might be able to help teach you how to get it since he can give him self an EJ no problem). My point is you have to keep your ego in check and learn as much as you can from not only your instructors, but your fellow students. Everyone has different strengths. Plus, you will get the chance to shine and teach others from your strengths giving you a confidence boost and further solidifying your abilities. So find your friend or make some friends and wade through this nightmare together (make sure to toss the ring into the fire when you’re done).

Good night band aiders. Be strong, be safe, be brave…don’t die. I hope all of your shifts are nice and QUIET.

1/21/19: Will Thoust Endeth Me Now?

I think I’ve been working at this white board for so long that I’m starting to grow roots. Howdy band-aiders! I apologize for the the week absence of posts but I am now officially in the full swing of medic school. And with that has come an intense workload right off the bat. That being said, I may have to change this to a weekly blog and recap all the things that have happened each week. The amount of studying is enormous and has so far left me exhausted at the end of each day. My creativity jar (don’t ask why it’s a jar) is pretty empty. So that’s my new promise (I know I suck at keeping these blog promises), weekly posts.

Now how did this first week go? Well…it was like getting smacked in the face with a bat…and that bat was swung by Barry Bonds in his prime…on meth…with a rocket propelling device to help accelerate the arc…with spikes…

You get the idea.

I will say this one more time for the people in the back…BE SURE YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY READY TO COME HERE. Our opening week started with a 120 page chapter that was a full review of Anatomy & Physiology and were informed that we would be having a fill in the blank test of EVERY SINGLE BLS protocol in the county. So for my aspiring crazies…make sure you start NOW with studying all of your BLS protocols verbatim. Start reviewing your A&P every day if you can. Consider going back to school to be a banker…you know…the basics. Our instructor staff has so far been pretty awesome on an uplifting note. Our first nurse educator is funny and has made our classes go by less painfully than they could have gone. Lots of technology involved in this process too. For those who are unaware, the NREMT requires all medic students to build a portfolio of every skill they train on throughout the duration of school. Luckily we are having all of this digitally recorded instead of having to walk around with 4in binders full of hundreds of forms…

All in all, it’s been a heck of a welcome to medic school and I’m looking forward to sinking my teeth into pathophysiology this coming week. Have a great week y’all and feel free to shoot me questions anytime. As always, be strong, be safe, be brave…don’t die.

1/14/18: Calm Before the Shitstorm

Howdy band-aiders, and when I say howdy, I mean howdy to the like 4 of you that actually read what I put here. I apologize for the break in posts (sincerely this time). Between family and then being sick for nearly a week straight, I’ve been pretty much out of commission. But! Things are about to get started so back to regularly scheduled programming…

Welp…here we are…the night before the first day of medic school. Not gonna lie, a little nerve wracking to be completely honest. I have everything straightened out. Uniforms? Check. Books and other school supplies? Check. Boots shined? Check. Existential questioning of my life choices? Check. Tomorrow is going to be interesting. I keep imagining that things will be terrible from day 1. Massive exam on BLS stuff first thing. But it can’t be that bad right?


Welp, we shall see. Stay tuned Band-aiders…about to be turbulent for a while.

1/2/19: Disorientation Day

Howdy Band-Aiders! Happy New Year, New Me Resolutions that will be broken in 2 weeks season. I hope you all had safe and enjoyable holidays and aren’t in crippling, life-altering debt. Personally, I’m so thankful the holidays are over…driving a 3 hours round trip multiple times in a week to see family was getting pretty old. Plus family, as much as I love em, can be exhausting. Anyways, its good to be back and writing for you all (or at least for myself) and to be getting into the swing of things.

So today was orientation day for my medic program. The moment I got there, there seemed to be a nervous energy in the room; probably from all my new classmates contemplating the reality that medic school is about to fall on us like a piano from Tom & Jerry (Gen Z, if you don’t know who those two are you need to GTS right meow.) The nice thing about my school is that they encouraged us to bring along our loved ones/supporters so they can see first hand what we are getting into and not assume we have become some neurotic shut-ins mumbling about med dosage calculations and rhythm strips. Had us all line up to turn in our prerequisite paperwork and then hand us the mother of all paramedic texts, Nancy Caroline’s “Emergency Care in the Streets.” Throughout all the college courses that I’ve taken thus far in my life, I’ve never had one that required a text book that comes in 2 FREAKING VOLUMES. Saying this book is thick is an understatement. Gonna have to be careful to not knock it off my desk or it might go through my floor and take out my neighbor’s cat or something. Jeez man. Aside from that, it was the usual signing of paperwork this and that and getting uniform orders and what not. I did learn a lot about the college I hadn’t know from my short time in EMT school there; pretty cool to know the back story to how the school to where it is. Following that, we sat for a long presentation by Captain G (more on him to come in following posts but he is the coordinator for the program) all about how we are gonna hate our lives for the next 14 months. Looking around the room at my classmate’s faces I got my visual presentation of medic school before it has even started. A bunch of people were exhibiting the classic signs of mild panic attacks…hell one kid looked like he was in full blown shock. This is an intimidating process for sure, but this is why I recommend for any one of you crazies thinking about coming down this same rabbit hole to do your research and learn what you are getting into. If you’re not ready for 11 major exams, 2 final exams, daily quizzes, and grades SIMMS, which is all just the first block of school, then I suggest you wait and gain more experience first. If you haven’t read it yet, go on Amazon and order Kevin Grange’s “Lights & Sirens.” He illustrates his time in paramedic school in LA which will give you a general understanding about what is involved in the making of a paramedic.

Once the presentation was over, we were dismissed and allowed to go cry ourselves to sleep for the next 13 days before this nightmare even starts. One thing that stuck with me though from Captain G’s presentation is that you have to be prepared to make the necessary sacrifices to be successful in this program. I am. I will not fail; failure is not an option. I’m gonna come out the other side of this thing. Bruised and an anxiety-stricken mess for sure but out the other side none-the-less. As Kevin Grange said, “the quickest way out is through.” Let’s do this.

12/21/18: Mentorship/Leadership and a Word About Those Trippy TAH/LVAD Patients

Ok, only 3 days in between posts; getting slightly better at this. “The title of this one is pretty boring compared to the others.” Yes, I know, something about fatigue and holiday shenanigans/obligations is wearing down my creativity I guess. But, you didn’t come here to listen to me whine…but it is my blog so in the eternal words of Lesley Gore, it’s my party and I’ll [whine] if I want to.

One thing I’ve always enjoyed about the military and now the first responder community is the fact there is so many opportunities to grow and develop as leader and/or a mentor. I’m holy unashamed to say I’ve messed up a lot along the way to where I am today and I still have a long way to go to get to where I want to be. The reason I have managed to be as successful as I have has been in large part to the mentors and leaders I’ve had along the way both good and bad. Well all know the good leaders; those bright men and women who have shown us what it looks like to be effective practitioners of our craft. They take the time to develop us as we go along with both kind encouragement and tough love. They make us want to be better not just for our patients, but for them and ourselves. Then there’s the leaders we all…well we all would like to take a long walk off a short pier. Unfortunately, we all have to deal with those people. I’ve noticed that EMS, just like the Marine Corps, has a predisposition to promote people who have simply been there long enough. You know those people, the ones who always bitch and moan about their job, but they never seem to leave or improve themselves to find ways to move to a different position. The ones who are not terrible but not great at their jobs, who never find joy in any of the work they do and always find a way to try to do the bare minimum. In most industries, these people would stagnate or be fired eventually. But in EMS, due to a myriad of factors, a lot of great EMTs and medics eventually make their way off to bigger and better leaving those who simply have held on long enough to eventually take leadership. This not always the case but is unfortunately seen wayyyyyyyyy too often. Now, instead of punching these people in the face (not recommended) or tearing them down verbally till their souls are left raw (entertaining, but also not recommended), I suggest learning from these people as well. “But Panda! I want to throw Bob out the back of the patient compartment on the 5 free way doing 80 every day! How am I supposed to learn from him??” I know, I know, trust me…I know the feeling. But there is a lot you can learn from Bob. All the things you don’t like that he does, from him showing up late, to how he talks to the probies…learn from him…and do your damn best to not be like him. I’ve learned almost more from leaders I didn’t like than from leaders that I did.

Now all that being said, YOU can start being a leader today. You don’t even have to be an official leader with a title, a badge, and a overlarge coffee mug. The largest hurdle, arguably, in medic school is internship. From my understanding, by that point we are expected to be well tuned technicians in applied medicine and are developing our scene management and leadership skills. Start now! Show humility and seek out leaders in your organization or life and talk with them about what works for them. Read books from past leaders. Teach and mentor the new guys/gals as they come onto your service. Step out and become a teaching assistant or instructor at an EMT program. Volunteer at your EMS explorer’s post or other youth programs. Leadership is like a muscle, you have to exercise it. You can even do this in your own social circle. Reach out to your friends and see how they are doing. Be a leader in your family and plan an event. Whatever it takes for you to get comfortable in wearing your big boy/girl pants and take charge of a situation. Medics are the medical leaders on scene and back at the station. Strive to improve this skill set as much as you do your technical knowledge of drugs and EKGs and whatnot. It will pay dividends later.

Final word for the night…total artificial hearts are freaking gnarly! *Nerd Alert* I came across the subsection in my protocol book about this growing population of patients and man I was fascinated today. I lost many precious minutes on Youtube and Google looking up everything about these things. Super trippy and awesome that science has come so far in searching for ways to save people’s lives. It’s gonna be an interesting day when I finally have one of these patients. No palpable pulses, no blood pressure readings, “humming” heart sounds, and low O2 sats…as if this job wasn’t hard enough…

Till next time band-aiders! Be strong, be safe, be brave…don’t die…

12/18/18: Christmas Musings and Whatever Happened to Johnny Gage and Roy DeSoto?

Man does time fly by. Here I thought I was on a streak of daily posts and then BAM, like 4 days goes by like that. Well, I’m back. Sorry? (Not sorry.) Between working and studying there never seems like enough time, or energy, in a day to get all the things I want to get done, done. Oh and family too because holy crap Christmas is back. Has anyone ever noticed that the Christmas season is like a scale? On one side of it you have the happiness and joy of being with your loved ones and giving thoughtful gifts (or Visa gift cards because I have no idea what cousin Joe wants.) And on the other side of the scale you have crippling debt from all the gas money or plane tickets and presents that is going to be paid off just in time for another December to roll around. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas. But I can’t help but laugh at the now very apparent financial undertaking it is now that I’m supposedly an adult. I want to be a kid again…

Anyways, for anyone that is in EMS or Fire that has never seen the show Emergency!…stop reading this and go enlighten yourselves ya heathens. I’m a younger guy but that is hands down still the best EMS show out there. Now, there are a bunch of first responder shows out there these days. Everything from Chicago Fire, to Nightwatch, to Paragods (highly recommended small series; think Office Space but EMS), and to 9-1-1. That last show is the worst of them all and I’m gonna go out on a limb and tell you to not even bother…just trust me it’s bad. I watch these shows and I think back if these ever shaped my impression of what being an EMT would be. Personally, I don’t think so because I’ve never been a huge TV watcher and there wasn’t many of those shows out there (only medical show I watched was House and no amount of “but that’s not real” will ever get me to not like House…fight me.) But with the dirth of shows that’s out there now, I wonder how many kids are getting into this profession with the starry eyed superhero dreams playing in their heads. Now all of you seasoned readers know that EMS is 40% dialysis, 40% toe pain, 500% paperwork, and like 0.001% heart pounding save the day stuff. I wonder if we are doing a good enough job in our basic schools of properly setting expectations for our students.

Now, I shall turn to the new EMT students out there or new EMTs. If you haven’t gotten this from anyone else, then I hope my words can at least fill in the gap a bit. I hate to break it to you…but we don’t save lives. “But Panda! What about CPR and major trauma victims and and and..????” Yeah yeah I got it, I got it. But even those cases we really are only bringing patients to a viable, stable enough condition to where we can transport them to the real life-savers: the MDs, RNs, and other hospital personnel that are going to take this barely stable patient you just delivered them and return them to as good as new as they can make them (trust me, there are plenty of gripes that we can make about before said professions, but that’s the honest truth). That’s our job is stabilization. Well, in reality most of our job is to try to make someone’s crappy situation a little less crappy while they are in our care. Most of our job is mostly to smile, talk, laugh, be NICE to our patients while we are running our 10th dialysis transfer of the day. Remember, YOU are young, able-bodied, and working. Most of those people we write off as just another transfer would kill to have some of those qualities back. Most of this job isn’t about guts and glory and heroics. Its about getting called into people’s most private of places, on the arguably one of the worst nights of their lives and giving them the compassion that they deserve. If you haven’t done so already, I would pick up Thom Dick’s “People Care” and give it about 100 reads. Learn the soft skills of our job. All the drugs and fancy air way stuff and needles and what not don’t mean a damn if you can’t be good with people. I”d rather take the bottom of the class joker who needs to be drilled up on medicine but can make Mrs. Jones laugh and smile even though she broke her hip as my partner over the class valedictorian who comes off like a robot to everyone he meets. This job is about people; people helping people. Sure there will be a day when you are running chest compressions, tying tourniquets and one day pushing drugs. But most of the time, you’ll be holding hands, flashing a smile, cracking jokes, and listening to stories. That’s what you really need to get good at.

Ok enough of this sappy crap. Hope everyone has a peaceful, QUIET Christmas week and till next time band-aiders…be strong, be safe, be brave…don’t die.

12/13/18: Of Grumps, Books, and Pee in a Cup

Hey look at that! I’m actually doing a back to back day. Aren’t y’all lucky? But just like bathroom breaks in the middle of calls…don’t get used to it. Anyways, today’s topics are going to include my medic school drug screening (because nothing was more exciting today than that…) and study areas/tips for preparing for day one.

For some reason, every drug screening I’ve ever taken, from the Marine Corps to past jobs, has always been performed by some grumpy Filipino guy with thinly-veiled contempt for his job. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Filipinos. Y’all make some awesome food and are great people to party with. But for some reason…I always get the one guy that just absolutely hates the fact that he’s a lab technician yet never leaves his job. Funny thing is, this is the same guy I had for my Casino EMT job drug screen…so I almost laughed when he was the guy who checked me in. Felt like being back in the Marine corps. Stand here now, wash your hands now, everything out of your pockets now, pee in this cup now…aye aye sir. Overall, not a bad experience, just comical in my mind. Now for all of you looking to go to medic school, this is another step you should be aware of ahead of time. You aren’t allowed to go to clinicals or even start school if you can’t pass a drug screen. I hope none of you do hard stuff on your free time…lord knows you can’t afford it as an EMT. But if you like to partake in the Devil’s Lettuce (Haitian Oregano, Mary Jane…insert your favorite weed name here…Devil’s Lettuce makes me crack up) and are thinking about going to medic school…I suggest you take a break from the stuff starting soon so your body can clean out. I’m not judging you if you do (as said before “do you boo boo”), frankly I don’t care. But I want to give you a heads up so that some of you don’t have your dreams crushed by something that can easily be avoided. So take a break till school ends (and probably after your job screening), then you can light up all you want or drink like the rest of us degenerates.

Now if you think that studying for medic school starts on day 1 of school, I’d kindly submit that you should apply firm, sudden pressure to the center of your forehead with the palm of your hand. If you have any inkling of going to this school some day, I suggest you start now. According to Earl Nightengale, “If you spend an extra hour each day of study in your chosen field you will be a national expert in that field in five years or less.” Now obviously none of us are ever going to be true experts in the prehospital arena. The science and methodology is constantly changing ever year it seems. However, you can start now in your preparation for what’s to come for you. At the end of my EMT-Basic school, I asked my mentor what I should be doing if I’m aiming to become a medic some day. He told me as I told you yesterday to take my time. He also immediately told me to start studying higher level texts with an eye to familiarizing myself with the concepts before hand. I don’t care if you have zero experience, one year experience, or whatever…start studying now. Learn your anatomy and physiology the best you can. Yes it’s an enormous topic (literally everything we study is) but there is plenty of resources out there from A&P for Dummies books (check your ego at the door) to A&P Crash Course on Youtube. Youtube University is the best school out there in my opinion. Get Dr. Galvagn’s ‘Emergency Pathophysiology’ text and start learning what actually causes the diseases we run into. Find a book like ECG’s Made Easy and begin to learn what the different rhythms look like. Buy a med math book and start crunching out math problems (holy crap mom…I actually am using algebra after high school). Finally, delve into that NYT best seller, page-turner you call a protocol book and read it from cover to cover. Both BLS and ALS. You SHOULD be a master of the BLS side by the time you get here; they expect it of you. But you should also strive to learn all the boring procedural protocols (like what happens when a podiatrist shows up on scene claiming to be Dr. House) and familiarize yourself with all the ALS protocols, skills, and drugs. I’m not saying you have to have it all memorized by day 1, but you should be familiar with the concepts. Trust me, make life easier on yourself and start now. Plus it makes you a better EMT now and who knows…maybe you’ll get a sweet promotion or better slots along the way because you look like a hotshot (probably not but it’s a nice thought). 

Well band-aiders, that was my uber exciting day (can you taste the sarcasm?). Thanks for joining me as always and I hope you gained something from my rant. Till next time. Be strong, be safe, be brave…don’t die.

12/12/18: Hustling, Wallet Suicide, and Tip #1

Ok, so I’m already losing track of days, so I guess I shall just use dates with witty titles to keep a track of where I am. Also, I said semi-daily, which is already proving to be not every day…I’m not apologizing. Anyways, we are gonna cover a three points today: financial preparation for medic school, the hidden fees along the way (like a damn phone contract or something), and my first of probably numerous tips about preparing for Cirque du Witchdoctor.

I guess those first two topics go hand in hand…oh well. So I’m sure many people out there, like me know that medic school is by no means cheap. Depending on where you go, the costs will vary. Most community colleges are gonna average out to around $6,500 all said an done at the end of the course. If you are like me, and opt to go to a private college, the price tag is gonna go way, and I mean wayyyyyyyyyy up. Like…$12,000 up. That’s a lot of up. Now to be fair, I am in a unique situation. I’m a veteran and as such I have the GI Bill to help me financially through this process. I guess 4 years of miserable shenanigans did pay off in the end. However, if you’re planning on making this life-altering, game-changing, potentially soul-crushing decision, you need to take financial considerations into hand. I chose the school I did purely because I have the financial means and it has the most available access throughout the week for me to practice and seek help as I go through school. You get what you can pay for. Community colleges, while cheaper, come at the cost of less access. But, if that’s what you can afford, then so be it. I just find myself to be fortunate enough to have been dumb enough at 19 years old to sign on the dotted line for Uncle Sam and Mother Marine Corps in exchange for an IOU that I’m finally able to cash. So as a wise man once told me…do you boo boo. Pick what’s best for your financial situation and run with it. Just know this…NO ONE IS SUCCESSFUL IN MEDIC SCHOOL IF THEY ARE WORKING FULL TIME. Just what I’ve been told 5 billion times by now. 

Second…like a damn phone contract, there is a bunch of hidden fees built into this process. From the background check, drug screen, TB test, health records, vaccines, health insurance…you name it, its probably there. So you should know that going in. If you don’t have a job or need something to supplement your income to pay for all the fine print, there are plenty of options out there. I’m not ashamed to say that I’m professional Postmate right now. In fact, delivering Taco Bell 5 times in one day is kinda zen…like a spicy, grade-d meat form of meditation. My mantra at this point is “whatever it takes.” If you’re getting into this, that the kind of mentality you need to have. Whatever it takes to finance this, pay the fees, and still make time for study and good health habits. If you want this bad, you’ll figure it out and go to be exhausted. The quickest way out is through…or is it?

Finally, here’s my first tip for all you foolhardy EMTs out there considering taking the leap up to ALS. TAKE YOUR DAMN TIME GETTING HERE. I recently ran into a student I had helped teach last semester while I was prepping for a class. Usual hand shakes and camaraderie and chit-chat about his budding career. Truth be told, I don’t remember much of what he said. But what struck me is that he told me he was planning on going to a school that allows you to attend medic school with only 6 months of experience. I’m going to put this in as gentle terms as I can on what my opinion is about this…DO NOT FREAKING DO THAT. I remember my level of comfort and competency at 6 months…I would not have survived in a medic program. I was barely confident in my BLS skills let alone moving to ALS and all the things that comes with it. Hell, i wasn’t even ready at 1 year. What I’m saying is, take your time. There is absolutely no rush. There’s no reason to pay an arm and a leg for a program that you probably wont pass, so take your time as an EMT. Become confident in yourself and comfortable at being a HUMAN with your patients and not some assessment robot like all rookies are. Explore if you really like this job or if this is just a stepping stone in your life to something else (medical school, nursing school, fire, or hell even a cop). You got to LOVE this to want to do this (Stockholm Syndrome comes to mind). Once you are comfortable in the field, I highly suggest going out and teaching. If you are comfortable enough to be a Teaching Assistant for an EMT program then you are probably ready to go to the next level. Don’t rush this thing…you realistically only have one, maybe two chances at medic school. Make sure this is absolutely what you want and you are committed to the insanity of it all before you click submit on that application form.

Well that’s all for now band-aiders…till next time. Be strong, be safe, be brave…don’t die.