A Fine Excuse for Scotch and Cigars

Sunday, June 05 2005

Testing is complete. Now we play the waiting game (but as Homer Simpson says, “The waiting game sucks! Let’s play Hungry Hungry Hippos”.)

Ah, the National Registry tests. For those unfamiliar with it, a brief outline:

EMS Providers, at the Basic, Intermediate, and Paramedic levels, do lots of “doctor stuff” for people we literally just met. We are of course not doctors, and so a minor legal problem is created, to whit: “That feller done said he an EMT and pulldied-off mah armbone! Who do I sue?”

That problem divides into two or more parts, the more salient being, 1) How much care can we provide? and 2) Who says so? The parts are interlinked.

Nah, even briefer than that, come to think of it.

It all boils down to, “How much do you think you know, how much can you prove you know, and who’s going to take the blame if you-god-forbid-f-someone-up?”

Different states allow different provider levels to do different things. Within that allowance, each county or region has an OMD who is the “doctor’s license” behind all we do. Some OMDs want you to put ’em in the bambulance and bring ’em to the ER – that’s it, no matter your training. Other (need I add, cooler) OMDs allow field RSI – rapid sequence intubation – where we chemically paralyze the patient to allow us to secure his airway. It all depends.

And so, the National Registry. Their written test is carefully crafted to obscure the answers. You know, you can sometimes take a test and walk out knowing you aced it? Well, not the NREMT tests you don’t, baby. It is Obfuscation, raised to the highest form of art – and it’s multiple-choice. Some keen minds at work behind that biatch.

The practical tests are nightmarish as well, especially for those of us who run calls. We have a certain way of doing things in the field. This is not the NREMT Way. Boo hoo – you fail.

And, do we miss the written or practical tests, we are never told why. “The NREMT is a testing and certification agency, not a training agency. If you fail a test, go see the folks who trained you, we won’t tell you why.”

So: The practicals I did pass, ‘cuz they let you know that on the day you take them. From 07:30 to 17:00, but take them and pass them I did. Had to retake Static Cardiology and Trauma Assessment – I may have got a rhythm wrong on the cardiology but I’ll be damned if I know where I screwed up a trauma assessment – but a single “redo” is allowed on test day and both my redos went well. Or the fact that DTs can look like a Margaret Keane painting and reveal the Pathetic Woeful Creature Within. And I told each of my testers that I wasn’t allowed home until I passed. Just kidding – the folks aren’t heartless but they are very professional, local Paramedics who were moonlighting as NREMT testers that day.

It remains to be seen about the written. Three weeks or thereabouts before anyone hears about that.

If all goes well, a fat packet including a rocker for DTs EMS patch, indicating “I” status, will arrive. After which time does begin precepting for an “I” position – in some counties this can be 12-18 months under field supervision. Good times.

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