Devoting space in this column to EMS work always seems to bring positive feedback, and I suppose it’s especially on my mind this holiday season because my three-year EMT certification expires on New Year’s Eve and I’ve been focusing on getting all the paperwork in for recertifying.
There are two ways of recertifying as a Basic EMT in New York State. You can attend part of the original course combined with “challenge” tests, or you can do the “Pilot Program,” which means attending 46 hours worth of Continuing Medical Education lectures (CMEs) over the three-year period. Both ways of recertifying also include monitored “skills” classes, where your hands-on familiarity with basic-level EMS procedures is assessed by an instructor.
As a person who tests well and is more concerned with keeping my head in the game, I chose the Pilot Program, and I’m glad I did. The CMEs have proven to be very useful and effective from the perspective of a small-town volunteer responder who can go several weeks at a time without personally responding to a call.
Most of the CMEs are held at Elizabethtown Community Hospital, though sometimes they are at the new Public Safety Building in Lewis. They are always well attended by volunteer EMTs from ours and neighboring communities. These monthly two- or three-hour lectures give us a chance to interact with each other and with the gifted professionals who give the classes (usually doctors or PAs from ECH, though outside experts also give CMEs on a regular basis). So in addition to the learning experience you also get to bond with the people you’ll be working with in the field.
I breathed a huge sigh of relief recently when I counted up my hours and knew I’d made the required 46. Of course, I still had confusing forms to fill out and signatures to get and copies to make and deadlines to meet. But I knew I could count on Patty Bashaw, head of EMS for Essex County, and Julie Tromblee, EMS Coordinator at ECH. It wasn’t the first time I’ve relied on these guardian angels for help and I know that I’m not alone. So on behalf of ambulance squads throughout the area, a special Happy New Year to Patty and Julie. Thank you for being our guardian angels!