Thread: Trying To Get Hired At 18
08-20-2006, 08:57 PM #1
- Join Date
- Aug 2006
Trying To Get Hired At 18
Whats up Guys my names vinnie an 18 year old EMT-B and a brand new just outta school firemen.. My life time goal growing up was to do somthing huge and somthing that would make an impact out of life. Well I think I made a huge step by getting my EMT before graduating High school. I live in south Jersey and work fulltime as an EMT at a squad that dose EMS, and Rescue Services. I have decided that I am going to take this year off and attend medic school in the fall of 2007. But in the mean time try to get hired at a Fire house. Any tips would be awesome I am in the running to take the nj firemens test. Once again thanks.
08-20-2006, 09:15 PM #2
- Join Date
- Mar 2006
- Atlantic City, NJ
Whatsup Vinnie, I see that you realized how great being a firefighter is. I think I recognized you at the 4H fair with Hammonton Fire Dept. I was in your EMT class. Anyways, I am in a similar situation as you, except I am going to college instead of Medic school. To tell you the truth, it is going to be difficult to get hired really anywhere in South Jersey. It is good that you are going to get your Medic because it will make you very martketable, and you will golden to departments that run EMS as well as Fire.
In our area, our choices are limited to pretty much the shore towns (AC, Brig., Margate, etc.) which all have residency requirements and P'ville, which I am not sure on their requirements. You have until August 31 to submit your application for the State Fire Civil service exam. I would highly reccommend this, because most departments hire off of this list. There are some departments in Camden & Burlington County which have some Chief's tests, but you would need to look into when each city is testing.
I would reccommend looking out of state as well, if that is something that you would consider. There are many departments in Maryland that do not have residency requirements. I am in the process right now with Montgomery County, MD. They are hiring a **** load of firefighters in the coming years, and they are giving another test sometime in the coming year. I would highly reccommend this b/c they are a good department and being that you will be a medic, you will be golden to them.
Good luck. I can't believe you guys lost to Weymouth by the way. LOL
If you have any more questions, or there is anything else I could help you with, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
08-21-2006, 12:26 AM #3
- Join Date
- Nov 2005
Before you rush into Paramedic school I would encourage you to take the time to learn to be a good EMT. Become proficeint in your skills and then think about going to PM school.
While you are working on the EMT squad I would encourage you to take fire science courses and build your knowledge about the fire service.
While many will tell you that being a paramedic is the ticket, I run into many candidates who fail out of school. It's extremely difficult. I have attached an article about medic school for you to read so you may make an informed decision.
Good luck and congratulations on your career choice.
What to Expect From Paramedic School
Tom Rollins, a graduate of the Daniel Freeman UCLA Paramedic program, wrote the following article. Rollins has agreed to share his experiences with future firefighters, so that they may make an informed decision when deciding to go to paramedic school.
The decision to go to Paramedic School is one that should not be taken lightly. It will be one of the most challenging periods of your life, and to jump into it without serious thought, preparation and planning could spell disaster to your goal of becoming a firefighter. With that said, it can also be one of the most rewarding periods of your career in the fire service.
I thought I was ready for paramedic school when I applied a few years back. I was working as a reserve firefighter in a very busy part of Los Angeles County and ran multiple 911 calls every shift. I had already attained an A.S. Degree in Fire Science at a local college, put myself through a fire academy, and was working one 24-hour shift a week as the fourth person on a very busy engine company.
The final straw was when I spent two nights in line to get a job application for a local fire department. The first night of the line up, a battalion chief walked the entire line with a handful of applications, handing them out to anyone who could show him a paramedic card. The rest of us stood in line another 30 hours. By the time I got to the front of the line, they had run out of applications. Instead of taking tests with 2000 of my closest friends, I told myself that this was going to be the last time I slept on a sidewalk just to see the job go to a paramedic. I was convinced that the next natural progression to becoming a firefighter was attending paramedic school.
I was overly confident in my abilities as a student because I had sailed through the courses toward my college degree with very little effort. In addition, EMT classes were a breeze for me. I had completed some upper division college classes at the state university level in Biology and Pre-Dentistry (I had aspirations of becoming a dentist before I realized my true calling was in the fire service). I was actively instructing first aid and CPR classes for about eight years prior to applying. Little did I know what lay in store for me. I came to find out that my story was quite typical of my future classmates as well.
This brings up a good point. Are you going to paramedic school just to be able to check a box on your job application? Or are you going because you have a real desire to learn more about pre-hospital care? I saw many ďbox checkersĒ fail out of the program because the effort it took far exceeded the desire to have a ďPĒ nailed onto the end of their EMT card. If you are hired as a firefighter/paramedic, you will be expected to work as a medic probably for quite some time. If you donít like being a medic to begin with, itís bound to show. You are going to be a very unhappy person who is being scrutinized on every call. Itís hard enough to be a rookie firefighter without the pressure of being a paramedic at the same time. So give some serious thought about jumping into paramedic school if youíre not ready or not really willing.
To get into a paramedic school you have to meet some basic requirements. Since they vary greatly from school to school and state to state, I wonít go into them here. After these requirements are met, a typical program will require you to take a basic EMT-1 level test. This is the first weeding out process you will encounter. My school had a minimum acceptance level of 85% to go on in the process. After that you are invited to take basic math, reading, writing, and comprehension tests. The third step is an oral interview similar to a fire department oral board, where they ask you a few situational questions and your reasons for wanting to become a paramedic.
If you are accepted, you go in for an orientation and receive your books. I suggest bringing a large backpack and parking as close to the front door as possible. You will most likely be assigned some study material before the first day of class. The first morning you walk in, expect a quiz. The instructors are testing your ability to follow directions. If you donít score well on your first quiz after having weeks to prepare, the instructors will have a nice one-sided conversation with you in which you do most of the listening. ďHow are you going to keep up throughout the program with only hours of study time instead of weeks, and score above 80% on every quiz?Ē
On the first day of instruction a doctor spoke to our class and told us that he demanded excellence in us. We were going to learn at a pace that was similar to a first year medical student, and would be expected to perform at that level as well. If anyone didnít think that they could hack it, he invited them to quietly leave at the end of his address, no questions asked, and receive a full refund of their tuition. He said that for the rest of our lives (yes thatís right, the rest of our lives) we would remember paramedic school and what we had to endure to graduate. And I can assure you, truer words were never spoken. You will always remember your time spent in medic school.
Itís not that the subject matter is all that hard; if given two years to prepare and study, Iím sure that most people could graduate. The problem is that many programs teach the course in six months. Talk about putting a ten-pound chicken in a five-pound bag! So as you can probably see, medic school is all about mastering a vast amount of information in a short amount of time.
A paramedic program is typically broken up into three phases: didactic (classroom), clinical, and field internship phase. I was tested every day with written quizzes or skill stations. The minimum passing level in my program was 80%. No grading curves, no excuses, no missing classes, and no sleep. OK, Iím joking. I was able to sleep 1 to 3 hours on most nights during the classroom phase.
The following suggestions will help you prepare for and get the most out of each phase of school. Through planning and preparation you can increase your chances of graduating and getting your paramedic license.
Before even applying to paramedic school, I suggest you take a semester course of Anatomy & Physiology (lecture and lab) at a local community college. In fact, many programs are starting to include this as a prerequisite. This is a good foundation class and you should work hard in it. Keep in mind that most paramedic schools demand at least 80% to pass; you should be in the upper 90% in every pre-paramedic course you take.
Next is a basic EKG (Electrocardiogram) course. You donít need to master 12 lead EKGís yet, but it wouldnít hurt. Basic EKG courses are taught in 3 days or less. Know every cardiac rhythm taught to you and know it well. Be able to read a rhythm strip at a glance, not with five minutes of debate with calipers in one hand and flash cards in the other. Your field internship instructors will expect you to know this cold.
A course in medical terminology, ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support), PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support) and any other course that you can think of that will expose you to pre-hospital medical training are all feathers in your cap to help you get into paramedic school and succeed. If your basic math skills arenít what they should be, make sure you do whatever you must to get them there. Pharmacology is all about fractions, decimals, and conversions factors. Study up on your metric system, paying particular attention to volume and mass measurements like milligrams and cubic centimeters.
Many programs are now offering a paramedic prep course to help students be successful. All these courses count when it comes to admission time. Many people apply to paramedic school, and the competition to get in is growing every day. If you can show that you are better prepared than the next person, chances are you will get the slot and not end up on the ever-growing waiting list. The school wants you to succeed.
Another good way to prepare for a paramedic program that is often overlooked is to become the best EMT-1 you can be. Let the paramedics that you work with know you want to prepare yourself for paramedic school. I bet they will let you do some patient assessments and run through some patient simulations. I spoke to a paramedic program instructor who said patient assessment skills are severely lacking in his new students. Your field internship will go much more smoothly if you have actually done a few patient assessments and not merely acted like an IV pole on all of your 911 calls. The key is to get in there and get the experience.
Some fire departments insist that their rookies do ALL the primary assessments prior to the paramedics taking over with the advanced stuff, so you might as well get your hands dirty. When the medics are doing something you donít understand, ask them after the call why they chose that certain treatment. Get to such a level of competence that you can predict what medication is going to be admistered and why. You will be doing the same thing in the near future, so pay attention.
A huge leg up in preparing for paramedic school is knowing your drugs. There can be over 100 pre-hospital drugs to learn, and most of it is just rote memorization. You donít have to know what the drug does to memorize its dosage, indications, and contraindications. By knowing this prior to the first day of class, you will buy yourself some much needed time to study other subjects (or sleep) while everyone else is struggling with pharmacology. Visit any paramedic school and they will gladly sell you the most current pharmacology handbook.
You can also use this visit as important face time. Speak with an instructor or sit in on a lecture if you can. Talk with some of the zombie-like students and ask them how you could be better prepared for your class. When it comes time to take the oral interview, you may see a familiar face on the other side of the table.
Another way to get experience is to volunteer for some of the simulation stations at the school to which you are applying. Often the school is looking for mock patients for the current class. This will give you an opportunity to see how the students are tested and what constitutes a pass or fail in a skills station. You would be surprised how often the program needs volunteers. And again, this is more face time for you to talk with the instructors and get information that other applicants will not have. The competition for that spot in the next class is high; all the above things will hopefully tilt the odds in your favor.
When you do get that acceptance letter you need to prepare both mentally and financially. In my paramedic class we lost right around 40% of the students by graduation. A lot of these students were trying to work a job while in the program. If at all possible, do not try to work while in paramedic school if you are in a full-time, six to eight month program.
The didactic period will last from 9 to 16 weeks depending on the school you attend. This is usually a Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule. But that is just class time. Next you have to drive home and eat and then study. You must explain to your family and friends that you are unavailable to do anything for the next 9 to 16 weeks. No nights or weekends off; these will be spent studying. All free time will be spent studying material, working on your assigned project, or preparing for the next test. All of your loved ones will have to excuse you from any other responsibilities during this time. If you fill your plate with anything other than paramedic school, you will most likely fail. Class failure rates in the 30% to 40% range are not uncommon.
The next step in the program is called the clinical phase, during which you will spend about 180 hours in a busy hospital emergency room. A lot of this time will be spent starting IVís and generally angering your patients in the process. You will also get the chance to practice your patient assessment skills. Do as many assessments as you can. If you donít show any aptitude, the nurses will be more than happy to forget about you and move on to someone who is more interested in becoming a better paramedic intern.
Some people use the clinical phase to coast and relax before going out to the field internship. Donít become one of these people. When a paramedic comes in with a patient, listen to how he or she gives report. Ask the medics what drugs were administered in the field and why they gave them. Listen to incoming 911 calls if you are in a base station hospital, and ask the nurses for pointers on how to talk on the radio. When a patient needs to be intubated, make sure you volunteer for it. Sometimes the doctors forget that this is in your scope of practice and will do it themselves, but they might let you do it if you speak up. I got to do a number of intubations this way. When a trauma or full arrest patient comes in, make sure youíre not off doing something else less important. Get in there and practice your mega code skills and listen to how others run the code. Take notes as soon as possible after the code and write down everything you didnít understand or were confused about. Go over the code with the nurse and ask questions.
The field internship is the 3rd and probably most challenging portion of your schooling. You will be riding out with a busy paramedic unit for at least 20 Ė 25 shifts of 24 hours in length. Many paramedic programs have a difficult time placing students because the paramedic preceptors are taking you on as a favor to the school and/or program in general. Keep in mind that your preceptors get no extra pay for accepting you into their lives, and they are doing you a favor! All they get out of the deal is more paperwork, more hassle, and more headaches. In return they get to mentor new paramedics, and this is why they really do it. If you are lucky enough to be able to do your internship at a municipal fire department where you will be working with highly experienced and knowledgeable paramedics, the whole crew is taking you under their collective wing. Treat this opportunity as you would a rookie firefighter position, because you may be one at this department if everything goes well.
I highly advise trying to find your own internship before you start paramedic school. This way you can get a good internship in a busy fire station and get the most out of your time. Itís better to be graded on ten calls per shift than two. Imagine the upper hand you would have on an oral board if you were a paramedic intern at that department. Need I say more?
No paramedic internship goes perfectly. Your preceptors donít expect perfection on your first shift except in one area - pharmacology. You may have remembered that I mentioned this at the beginning of the chapter. In your first shift it is common for the preceptors to question you on drug dosages, indications and contraindications to get a feel for how much you have prepared yourself for the field internship. If you canít rattle off all your dosages like a 4th grader recites the alphabet, a whole new can of worms may be opened up, and they will start questioning everything you learned. Not a good way to make that first impression. Know your drugs, know your drugs, know your drugsÖthere, I said it three times.
Keep a positive attitude at all times when you are in your field internship. When you mess up a call, and you will, learn from your mistakes and move on. Visualize your next call going perfectly. When your preceptors tell you to change or add something to your patient assessments, do so immediately. Never argue with your preceptors or disagree with them in the middle of a call. There will be plenty of time to discuss the run on the way back to the station. During your internship you should never tell your preceptors how you will deal with patients in the future; just keep your comments to yourself and try to learn as much as possible in your 20 shifts.
The assessment form that your preceptors fill out every shift has a section in it that grades your ability to take instruction and criticism. You will be amazed at what seems like a stupid idea on shift number 5 makes perfect sense on shift 18. A sure way to fail is to argue, disagree, or not follow instructions. The valedictorian of my class failed his field internship because of his inability to take instruction.
Make sure the rig you ride on is the cleanest, most well-stocked rig in the city. When the next shift comes in and checks out the rig, everything should be fully stocked and in its place. The scope is clean and shining with a new roll of printer paper. The EKG patches are overflowing out of the pocket and the leads are wiped clean. The drug cabinet has no expired drugs lying around in the dark hidden corners. (A nasty little trick preceptors like to do is hide an expired drug in the bottom of the meds box.) The drug box is scrubbed to a shine and all the brass on the clasps is polished.
When you come back from a call, restock any item that was used on the patient. Never let the scope batteries run low, or an audible alarm will sound off telling everyone on the next call that you are slacking. Empty out a compartment and wipe it clean, throw out any trash, and put everything back in its proper place. Make sure you donít leave any oxygen bottles empty. If you find any medical equipment that you donít understand and canít give a drill on with ten minutes notice, ask your preceptors.
When you have nothing to do, your nose is in the books. Every firefighter who sees that rig will know a paramedic trainee is on it because it will be shining when it comes down the street, and every paramedic who works on the rig will not have to lift a finger when it comes to restocking it. If you work hard at everything you do in your 20 or so shifts, you are showing everyone how much you want to be there and do well. A good trainee acts a lot like a good firefighter rookie.
08-21-2006, 01:42 AM #4
My biggest advise to you is stay out of trouble, I am not saying you get into trouble or anything to that effect. Just keep your nose clean. A lot of solid people that would have probably made good firefighters get washed out just they went out one night had too much to drink or whatever and ruined their dreams. Also stay away from drugs, I don't mean to sound like a D.A.R.E. commercial, but there again causes a lot of problems especially if your polygraphed and they ask you about past drug use or even if they don't poly your past drug use is almost a 100% going to come up in a background investigation, which by the way those people are trained to find dirt.
Think about the service, I know right now may not be a popular time to go in, however your serving your country and military service is always a step above the rest.
Your entering one of the most competitive fields you'll ever work in so you have to always try and stay one step above the rest.
03-20-2012, 11:03 AM #5
- Join Date
- Dec 2011
- Austin, Texas
While it's good that you're gung-ho about this, you really might want to get more life experience before you rush head-long into a fire career. For instance, do you know what a homeowner is going through when his/her home is on fire, or what their concerns are...if you've never been married nor owned a home? Or what a mother is going thru when she and her toddlers are in a bad car wreck?
It might be a good idea to do a tour or two in the military to get some accelerated life experience.
In my EMT-B class, our instructor told us that our county (Williamson, in central Texas) doesn't like to hire 20 year olds (or similar age) who went straight thru paramedic school starting at age 17 or 18 because they have very little life experience and can't relate to what the people they serve are going through.
Incidentally, there's an 18-year-old in my EMT-B class who will have his EMT-B right about the time of his high school graduation...so it's not that unusual. Now what would REALLY be huge is USING your EMT skills to help people!
This may not make much sense to you now, but it will after you've lived more of life.
Last edited by HDIron883; 03-20-2012 at 11:07 AM.
03-20-2012, 11:48 AM #6
- Join Date
- Sep 2011
He's about 24 years old right now. He made the post in 2006
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