Emergency Medical Education Paramedic Program
UT Southwestern Medical Center ’98, ’11
Deputy Chief-EMS, Mesquite Fire Department
Back to School
[Paramedic school] is one of the first things you do when you get hired in the city of Mesquite. You go to rookie school, EMT school, probably are out in the station for a few months—then you go to paramedic school. We probably do about 70 percent of our call volume as EMS calls—fires are the other 30 percent. And we definitely have some trauma with highway wrecks. So as [deputy] chief of EMS in Mesquite, you’ve GOT to be a paramedic. My license lapsed a few years ago, so now I’m coming back to school with the rest of the students. I’ve actually got one from Mesquite in this class with me, so it’s kind of a neat experience. So, yup, I’m going back through it again!
Whenever you start one of these classes, as far as the education part, what surprises me now versus when I went years ago, they’re getting to the hands-on and the clinical rotations a lot quicker than what we did back in ’98, and I think that’s good. You do have to learn all the knowledge, but some of it is muscle memory and starting IVs and intubations, and we get out there and start dealing with patients quicker now. And that helps allay the fears of the medics, talking to patients, getting more comfortable talking with people.
As far as the school is concerned, they work with [the fire department] really well. There’s good communication from the school, feedback on the students, how they’re doing … I actually don’t know of a time when we sent our firefighters to another paramedic school. All the EMS knowledge—they’ve got it when they leave here. The instructors here come from a diverse background, some nurses, some worked in hospitals, in private ambulances, fire departments, so there’s a wide knowledge base that they bring to this program.
A Memorable Call
A couple of years ago, we were called out on a wreck on the highway. As the call comes in, you’re hearing information from dispatch, looking at the time of the day, trying to figure out what could play into the call. As we got closer to the location, we’re hearing that it’s a semi and a car that’s gotten into an accident, and so your adrenalin kicks up a little bit because you’re thinking, “This could be a bad call.” As we pull up, we’re seeing this car where the semi has run over the back half of it, and again, the adrenaline really kicks in. At the time, we only had the driver and another firefighter—we were the first ones on the scene. So, limited personnel and you’ve probably got a pretty bad situation.
A Memorable Call, Part II
We found a child in the back of the car, in a car seat. The mom was in the front seat, and she was bleeding from her head, but talking—that’s a good sign—but we were really worried about that kiddo. Since the car had gotten mashed so badly, it had pushed the car seat all the way up into the front seat, and it was actually elevated the wrong way. The kid wasn’t talking a lot, but was crying—another good sign—so we were able to force the door with the equipment we had and get that kid out. It ended up being a good outcome. Everyone ended up getting to go home, after the hospital of course, but it felt good.
The Last Word
"You have to hit the ground running—you get in here, you’re learning stuff right from the very beginning, but you’re also doing hands-on from the very beginning … whenever our students graduate from here, they’re ready to take the national registry test."