EMT Students Train to Be First Responders

Ava Spurgeon, Staff Writer

Every “A” Day, a small group of students commute to the LBJ Early College High School (LBJ ECHS) campus for a double-blocked period of Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training. This class promises a certificate to become a practicing EMT. 

Students must take one year long disaster response class and two years of an EMT class at LASA before receiving their certification. Students who want to receive a certificate must start disaster response their sophomore year, so it’s a three-year-long commitment. Over the course of their training, students learn how to perform paramedic tasks such as diagnosing and treating patients, conducting emergency response procedures, and lifting and transporting people.

Participating students all have different reasons for joining. Junior Ahnsa Campbell signed up for the class to get practice in a realistic medical career, even though she doesn’t plan on being an EMT after college.

“I have a lot of interest in going into the medical field, so I thought this would look really good on my transcripts for college.” Campbell said. “Even if I don’t decide to do that, it looks good to be dedicated to something that takes that much effort and work on a college transcript.”

Similar to her classmate, junior Eva Dollahon said she wanted to learn more about medicine and thought the EMT class would be the best resource for exploring her interest in the field. She also liked the job opportunity that the class would provide in the future.

“I wanted to have a good job in college, so I thought the certificate would be useful,” Dollahon said. “I also am trying to pursue a job in the medical field, so I thought it was a really good start.”

The EMT curriculum is similar to that of a science class in that it is made up of lessons and memorization of medical techniques, but there are also opportunities for students to participate in simulated medical responses. Dollohan explained how students learn how to address a wide scope of problems and address situations as an EMT.

“We learn how to take vitals,” Dollahon said. “We learn how to take assessments of patients, learn how to properly transport and dress wounds, and do a bunch of scenarios and practice, too.”

Although they receive lots of practice, students in training are still very limited to what they can do as they are training to be emergency medical responders (EMR), a job that requires less skills than an EMT. Campbell explained how the class has given her new insight into the role of a paramedic in ways she did not know before. 

 “The biggest thing I think I’ve learned is the scope of practice. I feel like as an outsider when you see paramedics working you don’t really think about what they are and aren’t allowed to do,” Campbell said. “Now that I’m actually doing it, it’s really weird because you aren’t actually diagnosing a person, you’re just doing what you can to best treat what you think could be the problem. EMT’s actually have a wider scope of practice, but right now as an EMR there’s not a lot I can do in very specific situations.”

As previously mentioned, students are in the class for two periods, rather than just one, but the downside of this structure is that students in the program lose another elective, according to Dollahon. LASA has another program similar to the EMT program for students who want to train to be firefighters, but junior Ansh Sarda says the programs are very different. 

“EMT is a lot less manual labor than firefighting,” Sarda said. “It’s more like we learn stuff and have activities.” 

The class is taught in a portable on the LBJ ECHS campus, and contains students from both LBJ ECHS and LASA. The commute every other day sparks a variety of opinions from students in the program, Dollahon finding the situation irritating. 

“Having the equipment at LBJ is a little bit annoying,” Dollahon said. “I don’t understand why we have to do that considering there’s only one kid in our class who goes to LBJ, honestly I wish they would move it to LASA because that would make a lot more sense and it probably wouldn’t have to be double blocked if we did that.”

Although Dollahon does not like the long commute and class being on another campus, some of her EMT classmates have a different opinion. Sarda said he enjoys the fact that EMT classes start later than LASA’s regular schedule since the class follows LBJ’s schedule. 

“The days we have it are actually really nice, because the class starts at 9:05 when LASA normally starts at 8:15,” Sarda said. “I don’t mind going to LBJ, the only bad part is it takes up half of our lunch. Other than that, I don’t mind it. I actually really like the portables.”

The juniors in the program will have an opportunity to continue into their senior year and receive the certification, and theoretically be a certified EMT by the time they graduate. Campbell hopes participating in the EMT program will allow her to receive an internship while in Medical school, while Dollahon hopes to have an opportunity to work as an EMT while in college.