I always feel a little guilty when I throw these textbooks onto my reading blog, but they are real books and I read the entire thing; so I do think it counts, even though it's not the usual Cannonball fare that someone else would be interested in reading. EMT Prehospital Care, 4th Edition (2010) by Mark C. Henry and Edward R. Stapleton was my text book for my EMT-Basic (EMT standing for Emergency Medical Technician) class that I took this summer. These days 70-80% of firefighters' calls are medical rather than fire, and many districts won't even look at you as a firefighter until you have at least your EMT-Basic certification. Since I recently decided that what I want to do more than anything is be a firefighter, I took the class as soon as I could afford it.
I would feel ridiculous doing a review of my textbook on this blog. Suffice it to say, I learned a lot and there were many gory photographs. I definitely feel that I would now be better off in an emergency situation, although I do feel that besides CPR, a lot of what I learned is dependent upon having the right equipment, so I still wonder how helpful I could be if, for instance, someone collapsed at work.
It's probably more interesting if I discuss my experiences in the class as a whole rather than go into detail about the book. I loved the practical, hands-on aspect of the class, and it made me more sure than ever that I am making the right decision. Although there are times when I find the law or case I'm working on interesting, most of the time it is a chore to push myself through whatever I should be doing. However, this is not the case with firefighting and the EMT information; if anything I am more interested than ever.
The EMT-Basic class exposed me to a lot of paramedics and firefighters who were our teachers. I also had one eight-hour shift in the Emergency Room and three ten-hour shifts on an ambulance. I thought the ER was very interesting, but I really enjoyed the ambulance rides the most. It is so cool to ride with sirens on and the traffic clearing the way in front of you (at least most of the time). I also liked the variability of the ambulance rides. You never know where you're going next or who you're going to meet.
I did have some traumatic experiences on my first ambulance ride, however. I think the paramedic I was riding with had some major anger issues because he was yelling and then twisting the arm of one drunk/high man who had fallen down some stairs and was being somewhat uncooperative--to me, it seemed very unnecessary and disturbing, and I felt guilty for days that I even watched this happen. It's hard, though, because these are paramedics in the middle of a big city who deal with dangerous drunks day in and day out. But later that night, the same guy got really angry and yelled at some poor father whose son had fallen and hit his head. I thought the father was being perfectly nice and reasonable, and I couldn't understand why my paramedic, my teacher, was being so volatile. It made me very uncomfortable because I was definitely in no position to challenge him. That experience actually sucked all the fun out of my EMT class for awhile. I didn't want to be a part of a group that was full of bullies, and for the first time I thought about the scary amount of power paramedics hold over their patients in the field. I felt better after I talked the whole night over with a friend of mine and told the coordinator. Fortunately, my next two ambulance rides were with some very nice paramedics and I didn't have that problem again.
One other worry that came up once I started having more communication with the fire department is that some/many male firefighters do not want to work with women firefighters. It's weird that firefighters are behind almost every other profession when it comes to accommodating women, even the military. I think the combination of the physical requirements and the living arrangements stalled equality in that area for awhile. The tradition of firemen is big, burly and full of testosterone; I can see how having a woman on their truck would kind of ruin that image. Different fire departments, and even different fire stations within departments vary pretty drastically when it comes to accepting women, but it's weird that it never really occurred to me that I might have to stand up for my civil rights in this day and age. Of course, going hand in hand with that is the fact that I want and need to be as strong as I possibly can. If I'm weak or wussy, it will just confirm the negative people's views that women shouldn't be firefighters, and my actions will probably reflect on all the women that come after me. I feel that I can only defend my right to be a firefighter if I can really keep up, and I am already feeling the pressure. Anyway, the class and the book were both worth it, even though they mean that I'm probably not going to be successful in the Cannonball Read this year. I'm okay with that, though; sometimes more important things come up.