Welcome back to school from your break. We have to move quickly now because the days fly by as we are completing our fire service education. You were selected to serve your community, passed your probation, and completed your first three years as a firefighter. Congratulations, but now let's get back to work!
The elementary school days are behind you and it's time to progress into the junior high phase of your career. Let's take some time to look at the past while progressing toward the future. In the first three years we hope to not let our peers down and blend in to our new surroundings. This is a good place to get comfortable and not progress your career. Today's fire service is a ever-changing business where comfort can get you killed. So once you have reviewed your report card you need to decide if it was acceptable or if it still needs work. Whatever you decide it's time more the next level. Junior high is here so let's get on the bus!
Junior High (Years 3 - 8): The Growing Up Phase
Junior high is a transition phase from a child into a young adult. From the same prospective the junior high school part of your career is very similar. In this phase you have gained the knowledge and the experience and hopefully the respect of your peers. By now you should have responded to a mixed number of responses. So where to next?
Well it's off to further your education and training to prepare yourself for the new challenges that you will be facing. It's time to progress from the bread and butter type runs to the more specialized aspects of the modern fire service. junior high is also the time when you should be looking ahead to high school and choosing a direction to go. For many of us that direction is a fire officer position. So while you are learning remember to start focusing on leadership, team building, and tactics because hopefully soon you will be the one in charge.
Specializing in certian aspects of the fire service is something that each of us should do. I would advise you to choose something that you have an interest in. If you like the medical side you should choose to be a paramedic; if you like ropes then a rope rescue class should be in your future. No matter what specialty you choose, you should approach it head-on just like your early days of fire training, while grading yourself the whole way. So let's choose the paramedic pathway of specialization. Well, you are wise beyond your years. I say that you are wise do to the evolution of the modern day fire service. Fire departments who don't run EMS may cease to exist in the future. Fire and EMS go hand-in-hand and together each will continue to grow the services they offer their in communities.
So with stethoscope in hand, off to paramedic training you go. The first thing to remember about any of these specialized courses is that you need to rely on the study skills from your elementary days. You spend the next one and a half years training on everything that a medic is responsible for. From intubation to intraosseous needles, remember to keep the good grades coming. I'm sure that your instructor's will keep handing them out but don't just stop there. Keep grading yourself on performance from your point of view. Sometimes we can be more honest and open with ourselves. Be fair, but also be stern. Remember that we are trying to be the A student. Paramedicine is a tough specialty that requires a lot of skills so remember that when you choose it, but also remember that as a paramedic you can also help a lot of people.
All the while you are in class specializing in some sort of rescue you will continue to respond to emergencies. Continue to grade your performance, but add one more area of evaluation, leadership. Leadership is a skill that takes time to develop, so this is a good time to develop it. Start by making yourself more aware of your surroundings. Next time you respond to an emergency call put yourself in your officer's shoes and go through it from his or her point of view. When you return from the call go over how you would have handled it. You may even begin to talk with your officer and ask, why you handled that call that way. You may be surprised at their answer and when they explain themselves it may let you in on a whole new perspective.