Being happy is something I strive for everyday. To be happy I needed to be actively creating and living the life Im meant to live. After a few failed attempts at finding my purpose after high school I was stuck in a rut. All that was about to change with a simple suggestion. Becoming an Emergency Medical Technician is where I belong. I couldn’t have gotten there without the guidance of a few key people leading me like flashlights in a dark tunnel toward the light.
When I was 19 years old, I was at a place in my life when I didn’t know what my next move was. After graduating high school, I enrolled for the fall semester of community college. I figured that was there next adult thing to do. Once enrolled I found out community college wasn’t right for me.. After my failed attempt at a higher education I joined the United States Navy. Having not succeed n college the Navy was a great alternative to more school, yet gave me the opportunity to spread my fledgling adult wings. Unfortunately, I got discharged from boot camp after for months for not passing my physical agility test.
The day after getting sent home from boot camp I had coffee with my aunt Shelly. To date I can’t remember a time I felt more defeated and disappointed in myself. To say I was at my lowest would have been an understatement. Going to college for a degree when I didn’t know what i wanted to do wasn’t something I could succeed in. When I joined the Navy I thought it would be my career. As far as I was concerned I had failed at being an adult. I had no job and no direction in life. I told my aunt ” I didn’t know what my next step was, I felt like I was at an impasse.” Even though things didn’t work out in the Navy I felt changed. Although I didn’t know what I wanted to do career wise, I knew that four months in the Navy gave my starting push to becoming an adult. Not just the Im 18 and legally an adult type. My time in the service helped me to have a desire to become a real constructive member of society. I had desire to move forward in my career but I didn’t have anything that interest me. That’s when Shelly suggested I look into becoming an E.M.T. She explained that one of her friends son was an E.M.T. and loved it. The pay would be enough so I could finically support myself. Shelly said she thought I would be great at it. I remember thinking how fun it would be to drive an ambulance and help people. I didn’t know exactly what an E.M.T. did, however I was ear to find out.
I decided to enroll in the Crafton Hills College E.M.T. course. The first day of class I met my professor Gary Reese. Gary was a retired Paramedic/Firefighter. He explained to the class that he along with the skills instructors would teach as the basic to becoming an E.M.T. The primary job of an E.M.T. was to assist paramedics on 911 calls. Paramedics were once E.M.T.’s for a minimum of two years and had gone on to take one year of school to become a paramedic. The classes were one day a week for a semester, nine hour days. We spent half the day in lecture with Gary. He would teach us how to respond to medical emergencies. We would spend the whole day learning about how the body works. We immersed ourselves in learning about the respiratory drive, our circulatory system, our organs, and child birth. We learned how to recognize what was normal vs abnormal using the medical supplies that would be in our scope of practice. This in turn we would use to help those patients who the 911 system was used for. In between the four hours of lecture Gary would act out a story so vivid you could have sworn you were there about a call he responded to when he was in the field. The day was never complete with out a long tally of how many times Gary would blurt out his signature phrase “Does A Bear Shit In the Woods?” Gary signature question was uses to get he whole class to acknowledge how obvious something was, or to let us know that something exciting was coming, or just about anytime Gary felt like using it. Along with teaching us the basics of emergency medicine, Gary would stress the morality of the job. Gary explained ” at it’s core our job would be to help people. We were expected as such to adapt and overcome to any obstacles on scene, and provide live saving skills to those in need.
After our lunch break we would come back to class for four hours of hands on practice with medical mannequins. We had skills instructors that had graduated from the program. Theses instructors were paramedics and EM.T.’s currently in the field. In small groups of about five we would perform skills like cardiopulmonary resuscitation, emergency child birth, giving oxygen, bleeding control, along with basic medical and trauma assessments. I got to touch and practice with the equipment used in the field current day. Under the supervision of the instructors we were praised when we got the skill right and corrected when wrong. Seeing what things I would be able to do once I was an E.M.T gave me drive that I had been lacking since getting back from the Navy. I passed the class with flying colors.
After I passed the class and my national testing I was able to work anywhere in the United States as a licensed Emergency Medical Technician. There was just one problem. had too many points on my driving record to be hired by American Medical Response. These points were a result of past speeding tickets and a minor accident. I would have to wait about a year for those points to fall off my Department Of Motor Vehicle report. I called Gary defeated. I wanted to be an E.M.T. badly and was afraid that I would loose a majority of what I had learned if I wasn’t using my skills. I didn’t want tot go back to being stagnant. Gary told be that until the points fell off my record he would let me work as a skills instructor. I worked as a skills instructor for about a year and a half. When I was a student my skills instructors taught me how to become an E.M.T. Once I became and instructor I learned form the students how to effectively lead. Teaching theses students taught me how to get my message across, and problem solve when things weren’t right. I didn’t see it then but secretly Gary was getting me ready to work for the public that I currently serve.
When my points had fallen off of my record Gary tok me into his office. He asked me where I thought apply to. Riverside was where I lived and each time an ambulance went by with the lights and sirens roaring I wanted to be the E.M.T. behind the drivers seat. I told Gary and in his office then and there he picked up the pone and called Jim Price. Jim was the operations manager for Riverside American Medical Response, and just so happened to be an old friend of Gary’s. I listened as Gary told Jim that “American Medical Response Riverside would be lucky to have me… That not only had I thrived in the class as a student, but also as an instructor.” He went on to tell Jim that ” I had the right personality to work well as a E.M.T.” Jim told Gary to “send me down and he’ll see what he can do.” After Gary hung the phone up, I thanked him for the growing recommendation. I’l never forget Gary looking at me and saying “he saw something in me, and was happy to help.” He explained that “everybody needs someone to help them get their foot in the door and he was happy to help me.” At that moment I knew that becoming an E.M.T. was exactly what I was supposed to be doing. I interview with Riverside and got the job. I might have gotten the job without Gary’s call, but not without everything Gary taught me while being a part of the program.
Becoming an E.M.T. is what I was supposed to do. At the time when I didn’t know what my next step was Gary came into my life and helped mold me into a move independent, adaptable, aware, adult. I can now adapt and overcome any obstacle in life and off the clock.