Amanda Dorough | The Beautiful Journey


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Wrapping Up P-School

P-School aka Paramedic School aka the hardest year of my life thusfar, is officially over, well the school part at least.  I still have my internship to do, and my exit exam, and my national exam…. but that’s neither here no there.  The sense of freedom I feel now that class is over and there’s no more homework or clinicals is absolutely incredible. Incredible I tell you!

For those of you that are blissfully unaware of what this journey was like, well let me try to sum it up for you…

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Ok, maybe that’s being a little dramatic, but it was really, really hard.

I will also take this moment for a public education moment.  See ladies and gentlemen, there is a difference between an EMT and a Paramedic (I know, most of you are probably thinking mind blown right now).  I’ll forgive you for not knowing this fact considering most of the population as NO CLUE and I myself didn’t know there was a difference 5 years ago.  Yes they both work in an ambulance but the real difference comes in skill-level and training.  It took me exactly 1 semester (approx 150 hrs) to become an EMT (in Alaska EMT 1 in the entire country they’re called EMT-Basic).  As an EMT you can do basic life saving stuff and it’s all fine and dandy in many cases.  Paramedic’s on the other hand possess a scary amount of medical knowledge, can do some pretty insane procedures (surgical cricothyroidotomy anyone?), and deal with a ton of medications.  Also, when all is said and done a Paramedic degree is like 2000 hrs or something, and that’s on top of the EMT- Basic hours since you have to have that cert before even thinking of applying to Paramedic School.  So ya, there you have it in a nutshell, EMTs and Paramedics are different.

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Top: My EMT 1 Class, Fall Semester 2014; Bottom: My EMT 2 Class Spring Semester 2015. Alaska has 3 levels of EMTs before you get to Paramedic.

Ok, back to the topic at hand.  I can still remember the first day of Paramedic school last August vividly.  My class of 11 all showed up with our crisp new uniforms and blank notebooks ready to learn.  Fast forward 11 months later and our uniforms are tattered (I seriously have holes in my job skirt aka sweatshirt) and faded, we have dark circles under our eyes, and there are coffee stains on pretty much every piece of paper we deal with.

Paramedic school literally wrecks you.  But at the same time my medical knowledge base now compared to a year ago is insane.  It’s a pretty cool feeling when all of the cogs in your brain click and you suddenly understand why your body does the things it does.

While classroom time was like at least 75% of the program, those hours of lectures were also supplemented with clinicals.  During fall and spring semester we were in class 4 hrs a day M-Th then in the summer semester that changed to 8hr days M-W, leaving weekends, aka what everyone else calls break-time and uses to do fun things, like sleep for example, for us to get a crap-load of clinicals done, and by crapload I mean somewhere around 15 a semester.  I spent countless days riding around with different fire departments, but even more than that I spent what felt like endless hours in places like the Emergency Room, ICU, Cath Lab, OR, Pediatrics and my personal favorite (or not) OB.  Ya that’s right, if I could go through my entire career as a Paramedic and not have to birth any babies I would be OK with it.

Beyond that I think pictures speak the most words for me, so I’ll let some photos from this past year do the talking…

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The UAA Paramedic Program is split onto two campuses, Matsu, which is North of Anchorage, and Kenai, which is where I went. In September we all came together in Anchorage to get clinical orientations at the sites there. This picture was taken outside of a Anchorage Fire Department Station.

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In the fall we spent a lot of time going over airway skills. These pictures are from our “Airway Races” where each of our platoons (our class was broken into 3) completed against eachother.

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In the Fall we got custom shirts made for Breast Cancer Awareness month. I designed the graphic on the back so it was a pretty proud moment.

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In February the Matsu campus came down to work on Cardiac Mega Codes and ACLS with us.

Then summer semester is when things started to get really fun.  We’d been working on medical issues/treatment all year so we finally got to do some Trauma scenarios…

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Working some trauma scenarios in our vehicle simulator outside of the school.

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Learning some high angle rescue skills with the Nikiski Fire Department. This was before we were belayed to 60 ft in the air…

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While we are NOT “Ambulance Drivers” learning to drive the ambulance and get CEVO certified is still a necessary skill.

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Extrication training with Central Emergency Services.  Nothing like using the jaws of life to make you feel like a bada**.  In this pic we’re all sitting in a van we cut the roof off.

So there you have it, like 10 of at least 1000 photos from the year, but I did say summary right?  If not we would be here all night!

Now that we’ve gotten all that out of the way, as I mentioned before I still have my internship left to do, so I’ll be spending 2 months this fall just outside of Houston, TX, putting all my paramedic skills to work and probably dying of heatstroke considering Alaska has ruined me forever.  Then afterwards I’ll come back to Soldotna, take all my final tests and hopefully find a job and actually have money again.  Hooray!

So there you have it, P-school in a very small nutshell.  Thanks for coming along for the ride with me everyone!