Everything you read here should be considered fiction. Patient rights will always be respected. Any resemblance to persons living or not is purely coincidental.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Paramedic "Base Camp" Part 1

So it's been a while.

I've missed sharing my stories with you, gentle reader, and it's time to get caught up.

I spent almost a year struggling through the didactic portion of my paramedic program.  We began with somewhere around 35 students in the class.  We met twice a week online for three hours of lecture.  If we missed a lecture, we could watch the recording later.

I love numbers, so here we go:
80 Lectures
x 3 hours per lecture
= 240 hours of lecture

Book pages read:
7000 (give or take)
x 3 min per page
= 350 hours reading

Studying (not including reading)
1.25 hour per day studying
x 300 days
= 375 hours studying

Grand total: 965 hours for didactic (about 40 days!)

Now on to "Base Camp"

As I said, we began with somewhere around 35 students.  23 showed up for Base Camp.
I'm going to call it Base Camp from now on, because it really was that.  To paraphrase our lead instructor, people pay tens of thousands of dollars to be guided by an expedition up Mt. Everest.  Even though they make it as far as Base Camp, they can still be turned around by the group leader if he feels they aren't ready.  Because lives are on the line.
That's what the two weeks of Paramedic Base Camp were all about.
Instructors were evaluating us every step of the way.  We practiced and practiced our skills.  Rotated through 6 lab stations per day.

Typical day:
0630 wake up, make coffee, get dressed, study
0730 shuttle from hotel to school
0800 open skills lab practice
0845 morning info/meeting
0900 3 labs till lunch
1200 lunch
1230 open skills lab practice
1300 3 labs till done
1700 close-out meeting/more skills practice/shuttle back to hotel
1800 shower, order food or cook something in the microwave, maybe go outside for a walk
1900 enter day's skills into computer skills tracking system
2000 study
2400 fall asleep with lights on, face in book, drooling

0630 repeat...

Some people didn't make it.
Around day 4 we were surprised to learn that one of us had left.  She "didn't want to be a paramedic anymore" and left without saying goodbye.

I was stressed out.  Exhausted.  Freaked out that I could fail. 
And fail I did.
I failed a couple of skills stations.  Just went blank during testing.  The first one was Trauma Assessment.  No, really, trauma assessment.

I lost my shit and had to go for a walk.  Here I am, thinking I'm doing fine.  Thinking I can survive and I fail TRAUMA ASSESSMENT????  Yep.  Found myself sitting at a bus stop bawling my head off wondering if I can get this done.  Why had I failed?  Should I just call a cab and go home now?  Well, they gave us a 'new' methodology which didn't quite gel with my old mnemonics and I lost my place.  I'm not used to this type testing.  Give me some time to think, to prepare, to mull it all over.  But that's not EMS.
So I visualized.  Over and over.  In my head, moving hands.  Classmates laughed at me as I talked to myself in the hall with earplugs in.
Final test came.
Yah, I effing nailed it.

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