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Treading Water [EMT Training]

06 Jul 15
Heidi Kumm
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11 comments

I’ve kind of fallen off the face of the internet lately. And oddly enough it wasn’t a planned part of a “screw you internet!” over reaction…it was simply life being life and getting in the way of life. How inconsiderate of life!

I have spent the last 6 weeks immersed in an accelerated 10 week program to become an EMT. Going into this I really had no idea what EMTs did…I talked to a few people who were EMTs but it was a pretty general chat. It wasn’t until the second day of class during a real heart-to-heart that I realized exactly what EMTs and Paramedics did in their day-to-day work life. It is not very glamorous; it’s actually pretty disgusting on the “bad days” and there isn’t always instant gratification; even when you do your job right. Rather than scare me off that realization made me want to work harder than ever to become the kind of EMT the medics wanted to work with.

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A few miles of early morning dirt on the Mathews/Winters trails.

It’s a big change that I am working my tookus off for. I’m studying harder and longer than I ever have before in my life and I never once thought “my gawd, why am I doing this?!”. It’s really refreshing to finally be in a position where I truly want to succeed, for the sake of succeeding. No one else is telling me this is what I need to do and what makes sense in my life, it’s just me. All of my motivation is internal and that’s something new for me. I kinda like it! A lot.

IMG_0721Lynne staring off at the Collegiate Peaks on our way to Paula’s bachelorette party.

Unfortunately running and hiking and mountaining and anything not related to reading a 2,000 page textbook or running through medical scenarios with anyone I can bribe into a conversation has been pushed to the very back burner. I left my desk job with some pretty ambitious summer plans…all of them have been ditched for a spring/summer that has looked something like this:

May: super jazzed to start something new, a lot of limbo with my income earning job/class schedule, running when I wanted to because I wanted to and the carefree ability to make plans with friends on random whims because I had all the time in the world to do whatever!

Early June: minimal sleep + lots of caffeine, a raging summer cold and a overwhelming helping of sheer panic and thoughts of “holy hell, how am I going to learn all of this!” before/during/after hours upon hours of EMT training where my brain was tripping over medical jargon while repeatedly saying “I feel like I’m drowning”

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The sun setting over Rabbit Mountain, near Longmont.

Late June: a tickle of normalcy in my life as I adjusted to my insane schedule that consisted of 32+ hours of EMT training and 32+ hours of “need to pay the car loan” work and a hint of confidence in my growing abilities as an EMT as I survived one scenario after another [although I also bombed a few too, sometimes killing my patient because I forgot to ask simple questions like “do you take erectile dysfunction meds”]

Early July: encouraged by a subtle shift from “survival mode” to “success is possible” after two days of intense scenario testing [including leading a scenario that had me walking into a dark room where two very direct, hardass instructors were waiting to judge how I managed an unsafe scene, multiple sick patients and 8 other EMTs…somehow I survived!] and a very hands-on and educational night in an overnight ER clinical shift

Late July: only time will tell, but I’m liking the trend I’m seeing…it looks like there is a pretty good chance I’ll survive this course [we start trauma training on Monday] and after semester of additional training + EMT internships I just might be able to confidently walk into a job interview and, more importantly, a scene where my decisions + knowledge will save someone’s life.

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Early morning sun making shadows on a trail run near the Boulder Reservoir.

Now, I don’t mean to derail my running + mountain fun blog with a bunch of medical jargon and that isn’t my plan but I do plan to write a fe more posts about this EMT/medical experience. Partly because it’s a huge part of my life right now, partly because I want to remember how I felt through all this and partly because I think there is a lot of interesting stuff that goes on with pre-hospital/ER medical care that no one thinks about! So please bear with me!

All of that said, now that I’m finally treading water in the deep end of a wave pool [which is much more bearable than drowning in an ocean as the tide rolls out] I’ve managed to find a little time to get back in the game of running and I am in the process of planning out some pretty great August adventures to celebrate the fact I survived my summer…so those stories will be popping up randomly too.

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Our view while driving up to the Nederland area for a night of camping with my mom.

For now, thank you for hanging in there with me while I use this blog as an outlet for whatever is going down in my life and if you really want mountain photos + shortly, almost-daily stories head on over to Instagram!

11 Comments

  1. lynne July 6, 2015 at 1:32 pm Reply

    treading > sinking! and as someone who sees you on a pretty regular basis, i have NO idea how you manage to keep yourself in one piece. you’re not just surviving – you’re thriving! i’m excited to see where this next step takes you!!

    • Heidi Nicole July 6, 2015 at 6:09 pm Reply

      thank you — for your kind words and all the listening you’ve done during all my crazy!

  2. Colleen July 6, 2015 at 2:51 pm Reply

    What EMT program are you in? I’m an ER nurse at Swedish– holler at me if you have any clinicals there!

    • Heidi Nicole July 6, 2015 at 5:49 pm Reply

      I’m at FRCC in Longmont — haven’t been down to Swedish yet but I’ll be taking the intern course this fall to get more hands on experience so I might make my way down there!

  3. Jena July 6, 2015 at 4:21 pm Reply

    Sounds intense! I went to EMT school right after highschool – I think it was one semester, and it sounds NOTHING like what you’re going through.. but this was 12 years ago, so, I’m sure the training has changed by now.. did I just say that was 12 years ago, HOLY CRAP, I’m getting old.. wowser.

    Good Luck, Heidi! I know you will do well!

    • Heidi Nicole July 6, 2015 at 5:52 pm Reply

      All the instructors say it’s changed a lot, even in the past 5 years. There is a lot more responsibility put on the EMTs/medics where we’re doing “field diagnosis/assessments” and being able to push some meds. It’s actually a lot more than I anticipated but I’m really glad this is where I’ve ended up!

      [yea, I feel old — I’m in class with a bunch of 19-22 year old kids!]

  4. Jillian July 7, 2015 at 4:48 pm Reply

    You totally got this, but I hear you. I just started college classes again yesterday in an effort to finish my B.S. I have 6 back to back semesters jam packed full of programming, web design, and research all while continuing to work my standard full time job that is also jam packed full of programming, web design, and research. What was I thinking?

    Even if you don’t post anything outdoorsy for the next year, we still know that running and playing outside is a huge part of you so don’t worry. And I for one *almost* decided to be an EMT years ago (was at that starting to study point), so I am really interested to hear all the details. Someday being in SAR or another type of wilderness medic position is not out of the question, so I’m paying close attention!

    • Heidi Nicole July 9, 2015 at 7:30 am Reply

      You were thinking “it’s going to be worth it so I’ll suffer for a while”…and you’re right! Plus, when you’re crazy busy you find a way to truly appreciate your time off! Have fun and enjoy being the crazy person that has every saying “I don’t know how you do it”!

      This all started when I was searching for WFR training classes. When I saw the summer program I thought “aw, no big deal, I’ve done 9+ credits in the summer, I can totally manage this”…then I attended the first week of classes and promptly dropped two days off my availability at work. It is intense! I had no idea EMTs/medics did so much from the back of a fancy short bus! It’s crazy. And really, really cool! I’m sure I’ll be posting more – it’s a whole new world for me.

  5. Laura July 8, 2015 at 5:40 am Reply

    Excited to hear what you’ve been up to! I know the drowning feeling, too – had basically a breakdown last week but the long weekend helped me get a lot done and reset.

    • Heidi Nicole July 9, 2015 at 7:31 am Reply

      How does life get so crazy!? Why aren’t there more hours in the day?! And, more importantly, why can’t the human body survive on less sleep?!

      Glad you made the most of the long weekend — I saw some of the photos, looks like you had a blast!

  6. My 2015… // Heidi Kumm December 24, 2016 at 5:41 pm Reply

    […] with my life I started looking at Wilderness First Responder certifications and stumbled upon the Front Range Community College EMT program…it had a MTWR 9a-3p schedule that my office job did not approve of. Good-bye stable […]

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