Been a fun week so far! We headed up to Shoreline to old station 61, which is SHFD’s headquarters and training center. Quite a few new telecommunicators there, including people from Valley Comm, NORCOM, and even Grays Harbor. A real mix, which is pretty cool. This was my first chance to meet people from other agencies. We’re all about the same place in our training, all pretty much hired in June, and all just about done with our academies.
Our medical training is not so much about treatment as it is about triage, sorting critical patients from non-critical cases and assigning the right resources to the call. While I have an advantage in terminology knowledge, I’m more more adept with dead bodies than live ones, so this was great for me. Taught by a senior dispatcher and Shoreline’s chief paramedic, we’ve gone over all kinds of topics—some review from our online courses, others an analysis of our dispatch criteria, plus lots of questions, anecdotes, and explanations.
Our awesome paramedic (rocking out 28+ years of experience) also arranged for a medic unit and an aid car to swing by and give us the grand tours.
While civilians often lump EMTs and paramedics into the same group, it’s not at all true. EMTs handle Basic Life Support. They’re basically masters of first aid and can handle the majority of medical calls in our dispatch area. Can’t really dole out medicine (that’s a paramedic thing), but they can get you patched up/splinted/stabilized and on the way to a hospital.
Paramedics on the other hand, go through two years of schooling and possess more skills, knowledge, and permission. They handle Advanced Life Support. They can administer drugs of all sorts, which gives them a lot more capability in the life saving game. They also do transport, but for more serious or less stable cases. There are far fewer medics than EMTs in any fire organization.
In my PSAP, we triage so we don’t send paramedics for Basic Life Support calls. EMTs can always request medics, but we don’t want to squander them.
It was really cool to sit and talk with the medics and EMTs. They took some time out of their busy days to help us get ready to work with them and I appreciated that. Never acted like any of our questions were dumb, always seemed delighted by our inquisitiveness, and helped make some of these things real for me, more tangible.
We still have another day of EMD training and a test tomorrow, but so far this has been a great opportunity!