Why I’m Getting My EMT License and Certification

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My colleagues, friends, and family started speculating the moment I announced I was going to school to get my EMT license and certification.  ‘Was I dissatisfied with my job?’ ‘Was I changing careers?’ Even my Dad – and he is one of my best friends – reminded me several times that an EMT makes less money than a Rescue and Recovery Center Director. Things went so far that a couple of my colleagues talked with my boss – the President of Cityteam – about their concern that I was, ‘losing focus’ and becoming ‘detached’ from my role as City Director. Of course, that lead to a intense conversation with my boss during my recent performance evaluation.

I find it amusing, and annoying, that pursuit of a professional certification caused so much consternation.  Had I announced I was going back to school for a Masters or a PhD, no one would have had a second thought.  Had I announced that I was going to Seminary to pursue an MDiv, there would have been little speculation.  Yet, getting a Masters, a PhD, or an MDiv would take more time away from my job and family while costing much more than the EMT License and Certification process.

So, let me put all the speculation to rest – I am NOT going to BE an EMT.  I am pursuing my EMT License and Certification in the State of Oregon and in the National Registry.

Now, you probably wonder why I would go through all the effort if I’m not going to change professions.

I try to learn a new skill set or hobby every year.

My Dad modeled this practice most of my life.  Every year he picks a new hobby, invests in it, and learns everything he can about it.  Off the top of my head, Dad studied pocket watches, model helicopters, firearms, and reloading.

I’ve studied Tae Kwan Do, Krav Maga, Survival, American Revolutionary History, the U.S. Military Special Forces, and GORUCK.  In my mind, acquiring the skill sets behind an EMT Certification and License seemed like a natural progression. I know a lot about self-defense, I thought it would be good to know how to take care of people in the middle of crisis.

Just getting my certification has opened up a whole new world of relationships.  Conversations with EMTs, Nurses, Doctors, Fire Fighters, Police Officers, and Military Personnel are different.  Even though I have no real world experience, I understand the language and have the training necessary to relate on a basic level.  As I begin to volunteer as an EMT, I think conversations with this portion of our community will get much more interesting.  The camaraderie is pretty cool.

I believe I need a ‘Burnout Prevention Plan.’

Everyone waits to treat burnout after they are burned out.  Mustering the energy to dig out of burnout while you are burned out is incredibly difficult.  I think it would be better, instead, to develop habits to prevent burnout.

Compassion Burnout is very real.  In my line of work, becoming desensitized to the incredible levels of human suffering is a danger.  If I no longer care, then I can’t be who I need to be to help homeless and addicted men and women.

Develop a hobby.  Meet new people.  Learn new skill sets.  Have fun.  All of these help prevent burnout before it happens.  They force you to think about things other than your job all the time.  They demand your time and force you to draw firm boundaries.  As a result, your chances of getting burnout decrease.

 It’s just freakin’ cool.

I rode in an ambulance.  I worked in a Hospital Emergency Room.  I’ve learned how to help people in so many different crisis situations.  The other day I got to practice giving shots (Saline, of course.) to my classmates.  I know how to take a blood pressure.  The EMT Certification and Licensing is just two semesters for EMT-B.  The cost is roughly $1500.  I learned to study again.  I have a 4.0 – which is kind of awesome.  And, I’ve met some great people.  What more would you want?

Yesterday, after I rucked for a 3.46 miles under 60lbs, my wife commented, “It’s comforting to know that if something serious happened, you could carry our son to the nearest hospital.”  Someday, my hobbies may come in handy.  Right now, I’m just enjoying the process.

Any questions?

photo by ibison4

2 Comment

  1. Craig Arians says:

    Very cool Paul. I’m confident this will serve useful many times over plus you build new silo’s of relationships. And a 4.0 is very impressive while doing all you do. Hope to catch you in Iowa City this spring. Craig

    1. Paul Watson says:

      Thanks, Criag! I’m having a great time. I also believe my EMT License will help me walk among new groups of people. I look forward to catching up with you as well.

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