The UC Davis Fire Department (UCDFD) is now offering an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) program that covers a basic overview of the emergency medical care system (EMS). The course trains students on how to become EMTs, including patient assessment during an emergency, ethical and legal aspects and patient symptom recognition.
“They learn about dozens of different medical problems, the basic pathophysiology behind them, the signs and symptoms associated with each, and what the proper treatment is,” said Michael McCartney, UCDFD firefighter, EMT instructor and a UC Davis alumnus. “They also learn about traumatic injuries that can occur, from car accidents, gun shot wounds, falls and others.”
This accelerated program runs over seven weeks, totaling 160 hours of lectures and labs. Lectures are taught by UCDFD firefighters themselves, including McCartney, Braden Burrhus and program coordinator Scott Hatcher. All three instructors are also licensed paramedics. Lab instructors come from several different backgrounds, such as American Medical Response, UCDFD and EMT event and club supervision.
“We all have a diverse background of knowledge and experience and I think that’s one reason that makes our program interesting,” McCartney said.
The material taught is based on national EMS education standards and follows Title 22, Division 9, Chapter 2 of the California Code of Regulations and Emergency Medical Technician-Basic. Course credit cannot be earned at this point.
The first round of the EMT program was a success, according to McCartney, running over the summer from Aug. 11 to Sept. 26. Students met three days a week, spending the first half of each day learning lecture material and applying new concepts hands-on in the lab for the second half. The 23 students who completed the course all passed the final exam with at least the required score of 75 percent, making them eligible to take the County of Sacramento Division of Public Health Emergency Medical Services certification examination.
According to McCartney, students take daily quizzes nicknamed “celebrations of knowledge,” in which they demonstrate familiarity with the reading material. The students take cumulative exams every two weeks leading up to the final exam. Final grades also take into account each student’s qualities of selflessness and honesty, which McCartney said are both imperative attributes in EMS.
“The curriculum was already established based on national standards, and our lead instructors tailor each lecture to suit the needs of the students, and to make sure all pertinent information is covered,” said Hatcher said.
Field trips are also an important aspect of the class. Students are required to complete 24 hours of clinical time, split between hospital time and field experience. The program simulates real emergency situations where students practice cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and ride along in the ambulance or with the UCDFD.
“We even got the experience of loading and unloading a gurney [from] an AMR ambulance,” said Raul Carrillo, a third-year computer engineering major and student resident firefighter. “We really got hands-on experience in everything that is expected for an EMT to know.”
Outdoor Adventures has offered an EMT program in the past, but the partnership with the UCDFD further distinguishes the program.
“I thought it would be a good fit for the department and approached [UCDFD] Chief [Nathan]Trauernicht to discuss it,” Hatcher said. “He was supportive of the idea and thought it would be a great opportunity to serve the campus and community.”
The EMT course may be offered again in Spring 2015, and instructors hope to provide it at least once a year. Future offerings will keep UC Davis students’ schedules in mind.
The program’s tuition fee of $1,195 covers the textbook, clinical hours, class time, instruction and student insurance. Although participants are required to have CPR for Professional Health Care Providers certification, the course is open to anyone in the community. Students receive direct experience in the emergency medical field and earn a certificate upon completion.
“I would recommend this course for other students,” said Griffin Barnes, a third-year international relations major and student resident firefighter. “The instructors were very helpful inside and out of class and made themselves and the equipment available during the weekends.”