What Have I Been Up To?

Since moving into my house just before New Years, I’ve almost as equally moved into my car. In addition to a healthy commute, I’ve added a commute to an EMT class two to three days a week. Long time readers of this blog might remember that in spring 2012 I took an EMT course. Unfortunately, in all of my travels and tumult, my NREMT certification lapsed long enough that to get it back, I had to re-take the course. I figured, at once wisely and dumbly, that it would be easiest to just keep pushing forward with my crazy life and get it done with before returning to regularly scheduled hiking and exploring programming.

This has meant very little time for running or relaxing. (Twice a week, I leave home at 6:20am and get home about 10:15pm.) When I am home, I have homework to take care of and sleep to have. On top of class and teaching, I’ve still been pulling some shifts at my side hustle for that extra cash infusion.

Winter was kind of non-existent around these parts but Sprocket and I did get to do one really cool thing: one evening when we got about 8-10″ of snow, we left to do a 5 mile cross country skiing from our front door!

Having a house to come back and shower at has made it easier to grab those chances to run when they arise. Sprocket certainly appreciates having a warm place to wait for me to come home but even more I think he likes having a warm place to recover from snowy swims in the river.

I have another three weeks left of class and we’re both pumped to have a summer full of adventure!

NREMT Exam…Passed!

Yesterday, F and I headed to Coeur D’Alene for some errands—most importantly the National Registry of EMTs written exam. After some running around, we found ourselves at the testing center presenting two forms of identification and our NREMT testing letters before being escorted in to the testing area. If you’ve never taken a test at one of these centers, they seriously asked me if they could check my socks before I went into the test.

You get two hours to answer somewhere between 70-120 questions (according to NREMT).  The test doesn’t ask everyone the same number of questions; it’s computer adaptive which theoretically means that if you get easier questions right, it asks you harder questions. This is supposed to mean that everyone thinks the test is difficult.

My testing station shut off at 70 questions. Forrest’s shut off at 74. As we walked to our car, we discussed the questions we’d gotten and how they were different than we expected. Forrest thought there were a lot of questions about positioning patients. I had a ton of questions about childbirth. We concluded with that few questions we either passed or failed spectacularly.

They don’t tell you if you passed on the spot (I assume so you don’t go postal on the poor test proctor) but when we got up this morning, our results were available online. I logged in to check Forrest’s first, passed! Then mine! Passed! Two passed tests! On our first try! They don’t give you an actual score, probably because the computer adaptive nature of the test means that everyone falls on a range of questions asked and varying proportions of difficulty but I assume since we both used so few questions that we did very well.

This morning, we filled out our background check requests, input an affiliation request on the NREMT website, and have our state affiliation forms ready to get signed by the ambulance service. Here’s to plowing through the administrative requirements and being licensed very soon!

EMT Class: Passed Our Practical!

On Saturday Forrest and I took the EMT practical exam. (Also known as the “psychomotor exam”.) We both passed!

F and I in Florida (April 2010)

I was more than a little bit nervous after Forrest had already found out he’d passed all of his stations. I’m a wee bit (ha! A LOT) competitive and did not want to do worse than he did!

In the end, we both passed. I’m so proud of us both! We’ll be taking the written exam on the 29th of May. After that it’s just a matter of taking care of some administrative steps and we’ll be licensed EMTs in Idaho!

EMT Class: The End

Tomorrow is our last day of EMT class. We passed the final. I’ve been checked off on all my skills. Forrest only has medical assessment to be checked off tomorrow. This is the biggest relief ever. Especially when we start to see forecasts like this:

Looks like class is ending just in time so we can be outside in the afternoons now and not sitting in class. (This lovely weather should also do wonders for snow melting!)

I really enjoyed class for the most part. As we moved into the skill section, it really slowed down and sometimes that 3 hours can realllly drag when 20+ people are working through assessments with only two instructors. I learned a ton  though (yay! learning!) and in the end the driving was probably worth it. You should probably check with my handsome chauffeur on that account though.

Saturday is the practical examination through the State of Idaho and sometime next week we should be taking our National Registry examination. So close!

EMT Class: The Final 3 Weeks

As I’m not going to class on Friday, I only have nine class meetings left in the EMT course. It’s getting down to crunch time!

I’ve started feeling a lot better about the practical skills exam in the last week or so. I practiced a trauma evaluation in front of the class yesterday and it went pretty well. I made some mistakes but nothing I can’t easily correct and walked away feeling much more confident in my ability pass the test (and perhaps perform in a real world situation).

Next week, I’m going to start really buckling down to review the medical chapters in preparation for our classroom final (May 7th, coming up fast!), the practical exam (May 12th), and the NREMT the written exam (to be scheduled after we pass the practical).

We’re both super excited to have my life back, get some sleep, and start summer!

EMT Class: Medstar Helicopter

Last Monday we rushed back from Oregon in time for EMT class. It was a little bit different than our usual class and we covered Landing Zone procedures for a medical helicopter rather than a chapter of trauma response. The classroom portion was taught by a man who has spent his whole life around helicopters; first as a pilot in Vietnam and then flying medical helicopters. He’s retired as a pilot but stepped into the education role for NorthWest Medstar, the helicopter service that responds to our area (based out of Spokane).

After we were done with the classroom portion, the helicopter (or “bird”) flew in so we could talk to the crew (a RN, a respiratory therapist, and the pilot). I have a softspot for things that are set-up “just so” and the inside of a medical helicopter is certainly like that.

(Thanks to Jesse for the pictures. I forgot to take my camera out for the landing.)

I slid down a fire pole!

Yup. I slid down a firepole. Multiple times. The tones went off, the EMTs headed down the pole so I did too. It was awesome.

As part of our EMT course, we are required to do two ride-a-longs with the Coeur D’Alene Fire Department. Forrest and I asked our instructor to schedule us on the same days (Forrest at one station and me at another) so we could ride together…and then the instructor even scheduled us for one weekend so we got to ride on back to back days.

I really enjoyed riding along. It was nice to have some emergency response experience as it really helped me to actually process what was happening rather than being overwhelmed. The EMTs and medics were all really awesome to me. I got to take blood pressures and lend a hand wherever I could.

It was great to get a taste for a larger size department (Coeur D’Alene’s population is about 45,000) and have a stream of calls coming in. It was even better to remember that I am good in an emergency situation. In “real life” I’m not the most observant person in the world and don’t always see the little things I can do that would be helpful (I’ve tried to help Forrest a million times and just wind up frustrating us both) but somehow in the emergency setting I see little ways that I can help. I can process the scene happening in front of me and can be a pair of hands that open packages for medics, hold IV bags, help family members move their coffee table out of the way, and start oxygen flowing.

We got back home last night really tired but I was really proud of myself.

Back to class tonight…keep on learning!

P.S. Did I mention I slid down a fire pole? SO COOL.

We’re going to be EMTs!

Life got a little more busy for Team 3Up last Wednesday—Forrest and I started an EMT course over in Coeur D’Alene! Now we get to do the 130 mile round-trip three days a week…yay?

Back when we were living in Oregon and volunteering with the fire department I avoided showing up to medical calls (an unfortunate situation because medical calls made up the large majority of all calls to the department). Eventually, I ended up on a call for a potential stroke. We’d had a short training on filling out patient care reports and I found myself in that role. There I was writing down medications, incident history, and vital signs freeing up our EMTs to assist the patient.

At home that night Forrest told me he was proud of me (he’d been on the call as well). I’d been mulling over the experience in my mind. I’d liked it. I wanted to be more helpful. I wanted to know more. Unfortunately, the department’s requirement for taking the EMT course was committing to a year with the department after getting your certification and I was not going to be able to do that.

Fast forward to Mullan. We have what is believed to be the last free ambulance service in Idaho. But, in the same problem that plagues a lot of small towns, we don’t have very many EMTs (I believe the current count is four). This means that it can take a while to track down a Mullan EMT or, worse, realize that one isn’t going to be able to make it and have to call for Kellogg Ambulance Service. Fortunately, the department was able to obtain funding to send Forrest and I to get our certifications.

It’s spelling a bit of craziness for us but we’re both really excited to be learning new things and preparing to help the community in a new way.

So forgive me a bit if my posting is a little haphazard for a bit. I don’t have tons of non-work time to keep you posted on!