A middle-aged woman lay on the ground in pain after her Honda Accord was t-boned by a Toyota Tacoma. Her pelvis was shattered and she was bleeding internally as ambulances flooded the scene.”
On only his second day on the job, Joey Hammer, an Emergency Medical Technician ran to the woman, knocked silly with pain, and began assessing the situation.
“It was the most nervous I had ever been. I was freaking out,” said Hammer, 20, Costa Mesa. “They told me to get a pulse and I was so nervous that I had trouble counting it.”
A former student at Occidental University, Hammer decided to enroll in Saddleback’s EMT program. The E.M.T. program is 6.5 units and consists of 6 hour lectures and skills labs.
Lectures covered topics like standard procedure techniques , anatomy, drugs, and to lessons on how to recognize the symptoms of different health problems. “The lectures were really dense, it was exhausting at times. They were basically six hour science classes,” said Hammer.
The lab portion of the curriculum showed students how to do things like give C.P.R., control bleeding, how to open airways when patients can’t breathe and how to apply leg splints.
“They had actual EMTs come in and teach the classes,” said Hammer. “They broke the class into groups and sent us through stations.”
The groups were generally only six or seven students to one instructor, according to Hammer. “Instructors were really able to take their time with everyone. They made sure everybody understood, and knew how to perform the different procedures.”
After finishing the required classes, a prospective EMT also has to pass the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians test in order to get certified by the state. The NREMT is used, by 46 states, as a means of providing the evidence that you have at least an entry level of competency required of an E.M.T..
“I felt really prepared for the test after I finished Saddleback’s program, and when it came time for the test, I thought it was a breeze,” said Hammer, who passed the test last May.
After passing the test and getting certified by the state, it is time to apply for a job. The EMT hopefuls submit applications and wait, hoping to get a call back in order set up a date for an interview and a skills test.
After applying for five jobs, Hammer got called back by two companies. One did 9-1-1 calls and the other was a private company.
“The interview process was really intense at times. They asked really specific questions that called for detailed responses,” Hammer said. “They asked about how I would react in a bunch of different scenarios, some work related, some not.”
Hammer was asked to demonstrate the ability to complete six or seven different skills after his interview, in the suit he was wearing for the interview, no less.
“I passed all the skills and was offered a job that day,” said Hammer, who, as is standard procedure, was asked to take a drug test on the spot.
Hammer accepted the job from Pacific Ambulance, a private ambulance service. Pacific Ambulance is hired for jobs like transporting patients from one hospital to the next – They even transport patients to mental institutions. After completing the one week training course that all employees had take, Hammer was now ready to work as an EMT.
After about a month, Hammer got offered a job with Care Ambulance where he now does both 9-1-1 and private calls.
“Making the switch was a no brainer. I was looking to become a paramedic, and Care Ambulance was a step in the right direction,” said Hammer, who has worked for Care for seven months now.
The job sends Hammer on jobs as far north as Los Angeles, and as far south as Costa Mesa. “You see some interesting stuff on calls, especially the 9-1-1 calls,” Hammer said. “One time in Huntington Park we had to pick up a cross-dressing prostitute. It was an experience to say the least.”
. The time Hammer helped the woman who got t-boned there was nothing gory to look at, however, the job can come with its fair share of blood and guts and is not for the faint of heart.
Three weeks ago, in fact, Hammer had to assess the injury suffered by the victim of a crow bar beating. “His face was completely mangled. His face – his cheeks and jaw looked like mush,” said Hammer, who was un-phased by the “He kept coming in and out of consciousness, but I just did my job and got him to the hospital.”
Hammer, although a good EMT, is now looking to become a Nurse, and hopes to get hired when the new HOAG hospital opens in Irvine. He is enrolled in nursing classes at Saddleback, and looks forward to the future.
“Everything worked out well with the EMT program, so I have high hopes for Saddleback’s nursing program. Only time will tell though.”