Clarifying reasons for decision

Dear Editor,

After reading the remarks in last week’s paper regarding our decision to hold an Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) class, decided to clarify the reasons.

As the Coordinator for Oroville Ambulance, and after 26 years of experience in EMS, I have seen the transformation of pre-hospital care and specifically the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification intensify to improve the treatment of our patients. Pre-hospital is no longer just a ride to the hospital in an ambulance, we actually provide treatment to our patients and held responsible for Washingtn State DOH Standards of Care! The EMT class has gone from a 45 hour class to a class of 180 hours and along with that goes more skills, ongoing training, and responsibility. It has moved from a volunteer certification to a career certification in urban and some rural areas. The course curriculum is extremely challenging, as is the hours, and demands placed on the student. It is also very expensive.

The Emergency Medical Responder class is a 60 hour class, less extensive, less expensive, yet allows the student to obtain all but a few of the same skills as an EMT. When compared to the EMT class the EMR class is one third less hours and also one third of the cost.

With careful thought and observation of other agencies, Oroville Ambulance has decided to use the EMR class as an entry level position for our agency. This would allow for responders to join our service without the high demands of the EMT class both academically and financially. It would allow responders to test the waters, so to speak, and see if they are cut out for EMS (some are not). After a year these responders would have the opportunity to move up to the EMT level should they choose. Later the EMT will have the opportunity to upgrade their certification to the AEMT (Advanced Emergency Medical Technician), should they desire.

The entry level position and graduated opportunities to upgrade certifications has worked very well in other agencies, and since the demands of the EMT certification has increased. It does allow for those wanting to experience EMS to start out with less demand initially and take on more at their own choosing, or to opt out all together if they find EMS is really not a good fit for them, all without a huge initial investment. The EMR will also be much more prepared to achieve success in the EMT upgrade after responding for a year under the guidance of an EMT.

The economy, busy lives, and small community make it difficult to find people willing to make the sacrifices of joining our service. We are trying to make it easy as possible to increase our responder numbers. The more responders we have, the less demands are placed on the entire agency. With our call volumes increasing dramatically, we also need to increase our responder numbers.

The rewards of working in EMS are huge; there is nothing better than having the opportunity to help others. If you would like to join our agency, pick up an application at City Hall or call (509) 476-4320. We are holding an EMR class starting the end of November.

Thank you and stay safe out there,

Debra Donahue