More volunteers were able to obtain certification as EMTs recently, with 10 passing the requisite tests for state and national certification after taking classes taught locally.
An EMT training grant from the Apple A Day EMS Agency and money from the Glen and Jean McKenzie Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation made the training possible.
The funding covered both the instruction and the purchase of a training mannequin for students to obtain hands-on experience treating patient. “We didn’t just teach our own volunteers,” said Teresa Thomas, who works as a firefighter and now an ambulance crew member. “We taught search and rescue and hospital staff. I joined the ambulance crew members after the class.”
This brings the number of available volunteers around the area to around 40 people, including trained ambulance drivers as well as those certified as various levels of EMT. The Lakeview Disaster Unit is able to call up on a list of individuals from around the area including New Pine Creek, Westside, Warner Valley and those living along Hwy 395 North.
“We could always take more,” said Thomas, “especially drivers. The ambulance even offers a riding period to see if it’s right for people.”
She commented that the class itself was fun, but challenging. Thomas took the course with no previous medical experience, but estimated 90 percent of those taking it had some medical background. “There were lots of people, RNs, first responders and EMTs with previous medical experience,” she said.
For certification, the students were required to take both a written final exam and eight practical tests. “We were tested on medical scenarios that we would run into as an EMT,” said Thomas.
The group was tested at Klamath Community College, and the tests encompassed both Oregon and National certification requirements.
Thomas stated that the mannequin helped a lot, with enough functionality to make it seem like working on a real person. The group of students had to do things like insert a tube to allow the ‘patient’ to breathe.
“The mannequin had good, functional airways,” said Thomas. “You could see the chest rise and fall, listen and hear the air going into the lungs.”
With her inexperience, she commented that she was originally worried about getting on an ambulance and not knowing what to expect. In this case, she said, the mannequin was very valuable, offering the experience of treating a real patient.