Emergency medical services offer some of the most critical forms of emergency patient care. Step into this extremely challenging and rewarding career with Rend Lake College’s Emergency Medical Technician programs.
“A person gets into EMS because he or she cares about the public. EMS is necessary for the health care system to work because it is the most fundamental form of medicine. If someone needs help, you go out and help them,” said Robert Hyman, Coordinator of the North Egypt EMS System.
Emergency rooms are available 24 hours a day, but the Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics are the people who come to the patient’s home or wherever the emergency occurs, Hyman said.
Through Rend Lake College, students have the opportunity to become licensed in three levels of EMS: EMT-Basic; EMT-Intermediate; and EMT-Paramedic.
“This career is very rewarding. You see it in the eyes of the patients you care for,” said Hyman.
Students who join the EMS field need excellent written and verbal communication skills, critical thinking abilities, and perhaps most importantly, compassion and empathy.
EMT-Basics study basic life-saving skills, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), controlling external hemorrhage, emergency childbirth, administration of oxygen and basic stabilization skills.
At the next level, the EMT-Intermediate will learn advanced airway procedures, introductory pharmacology and intravenous therapy, and introductory cardiology.
Paramedics, the most advanced level of Emergency Medical Technician, are trained in more advanced airway procedures, such as intubation and transtracheal catheter ventilation; advanced IV therapy; advanced cardiac procedures; and the management and treatment of most major medical conditions.
“EMS is a critical resource,” said Hyman. “You don’t stay with it for the money. You stay with it because you love it.”
The EMT program is administered through the Allied Health Division at Rend Lake College in cooperation with St. Mary’s / Good Samaritan Hospital-North Egypt EMS System in Mt. Vernon. All classes are approved by the North Egypt EMS System and are overseen by Dr. Scott Roustio, EMS Medical Director. Students studying in the EMT-Paramedic program have the option of earning either an Associate in Applied Science Degree or an Occupational Certificate.
Graduates of RLC’s program will be eligible to take the Illinois Department of Public Health EMT licensure examination for Basic, Intermediate or Paramedic, depending on their programs of study. Graduates also have the option of sitting for the National Registry Examination, which grants reciprocity in most states in the country.
Many paramedics go on to higher levels of health care. Some become instructors or administrators, and it is not unheard of for a paramedic to return to school to become a physician.
Is it possible to make money being a paramedic? Yes. How much money is the question. According to EMS Magazine, emergency medical services (including private ambulance companies, volunteer services and fire-based EMS systems) are not known for making medics rich, although a few have made a lot of money. This does not include those individuals who work more than one medic job or who work overtime shifts. Cross-trained providers (firefighter, rescue, industrial, flight paramedic, etc.) may have higher base salaries than those of other paramedics. Salaries can vary substantially between EMS systems and geographic areas.
There is good news for medics who want to work overtime or work a second job. Some EMS agencies’ schedules will allow medics to work on the side. Per diem or part-time jobs abound in the field of EMS, if arrangements can be made in scheduling.
Unlike 25 years ago, paramedics are no longer restricted to working on the streets in an ambulance or fire truck. Career options include teaching, becoming a critical care or flight paramedic, consulting and starting a business on the side. Some paramedics move into management positions. Industrial companies often hire paramedics, and sporting events and movie companies also use paramedics. Want to ski? Become a ski patrol paramedic. Want to teach Advanced Cardiac Life Support and Pediatric Advanced Life Support on the side? Get instructor certifications. Paramedics also can transition into corporate healthcare positions. The career opportunities are there if a medic can find a niche.
Hyman applauded the efforts of his fellow instructors, as well as Dr. Sharon Beasley, Allied Health Division Chair at RLC.
Bill May, a Pinckneyville paramedic, leads the EMT-Basic classes, while Hyman teaches the two EMT-Intermediate courses. Kevin Sargent and Donnie Hayes, both of whom are paramedics, firefighters and fire investigators with the Mt. Vernon Fire Department, head up the remaining two EMT-Paramedic courses.
“It’s difficult to fit teaching into a busy schedule. We are all basically available on evenings and weekends for our students. We try to be there for them whenever they need us,” said Hyman.