Camelot Neighborhood Association

Paramedic Training in Garland

There are a lot of steps and training that must be completed before paramedics can go on to ride the ambulance in the city of Garland. First, they must complete the process of becoming a firefighter. Different cities have different requirements for their firefighter applicants. Some require that the applicant holds certifications in Firefighting, Paramedic, both, or neither. Others require only a GED or high school diploma while some require college hours. Garland requires that applicants be between the ages of 18 and 35, hold a GED or high school diploma, and have a clean criminal and driving history.

After putting in an application with Garland Human Resources, the applicant is permitted to take part in the hiring process. The City of Garland uses the Civil Service Commission to ensure that the hiring process is fair and holds no bias for any applicants. The first step in the hiring process is the Civil Service Exam, which tests the applicant over reading comprehension, math and equations, applied mechanics, and statistics. Each time Garland administers a test, approximately 800 people take it in the hope of becoming a firefighter. Everyone who gets above a 70 gets put on a hiring eligibility list, ranked according to score. Applicants who hold an honorable discharge from the military get an extra five points on their ranking. The hiring eligibility test will be active for one year from the exam date. If Garland were looking to hire ten firefighters, they would take the top sixty applicants on the list and move them on to the next step in the process, the physical agility test.

The physical agility test is an obstacle course that consists of various simulated fire ground activities. It starts with a mile run to get the applicant warmed up. Then it moves on to an aerial ladder climb. The next step is to walk up several flights of stairs while carrying a stack of fire hose and then to pull a weighted rope up the side of a building, hand over hand. Applicants then move on to the loaded hose drag where they must drag a hose full of water fifty feet. There is a dummy wearing full firefighter gear weighing approximately 150 pounds, which the applicants must drag or carry a certain distance. After that, they must take a ladder off a rack, set it on the ground, and then return it to the rack. The last obstacle is to move a number of rolled hose bundles from the ground onto a shelf. All of these obstacles are timed, and are on a pass-or-fail basis. Applicants who fail any obstacle by incompletion or taking too long will be removed from the eligibility list. The physical agility tends to eliminate several people off of the hiring eligibility list.

The next step in the process is the background check and polygraph. Applicants must write down, in complete detail, their entire work history and any driving or criminal infractions. Their fingerprints are taken, and a full criminal and driving background check is performed. They then get to take a polygraph test where the polygraph interviewer ensures the truthfulness of the applicant in the application and testing process. This process usually eliminates twenty or thirty people off the hiring eligibility list.

Next, remaining candidates will dress professionally and sit before a board of civilians, firefighters, and city officials for an oral interview. The interviewers have a list of Civil Service Commission approved questions which they ask each of the applicants. For firefighter hopefuls, there are no forewarnings of what questions may be asked, and there will be no indication of whether their answer is a good one or not. After all the interviewers ask their questions and receive their answers, the applicant is thanked and dismissed. The interviewers then grade their questions and answers, and the results are shared among the interviewers. Applicants who received low marks overall or had any significant red flags or signs that they would be unfit to be a firefighter or paramedic would be removed from the hiring eligibility list for one year. Everyone else would remain on the final hiring eligibility list.

The final point in the hiring process is for the top candidates remaining on the hiring eligibility list to come in for a chief interview. This is the time where the chief will meet the applicant and make a conditional job offer and start date, pending the passing of a physical performed by the city doctor.

From start date onward, the applicant becomes a Firefighter recruit and is on a probationary status. The probation period means that if the firefighters have any disciplinary, educational, or tardiness issues, they can be let go after corrective steps have been taken. As long as they work hard, arrive on time, and utilize the resources provided, then they will have no problem. The first six months of their employment is spent at the Fire Academy where they split their time between the classroom, learning the basics of firefighting, and out on the drill field where they acquire hands-on experience. After successfully completing the academy and passing the state exam, they will be eligible to become certified firefighters. An additional requirement for becoming a state certified firefighter is to also hold certification in an EMS first responder field. The industry standard for firefighters is EMT-Basic, which teaches the basic life support skills such as CPR, splinting, and bandaging. The EMT-Basic class takes 150 classroom hours of intensive course work, followed by state skill testing and certification testing.

After successfully gaining certification, firefighters are placed at a station for the last six months of their probationary period. They are placed under a captain, who finishes out their field training. They will face rigorous monthly skills and knowledge testing to ensure that they are developing into useful and knowledgeable firefighters. After their probationary year is over, they will participate in a “changing of helmet” ceremony where they exchange their “rookie” yellow helmet for a traditional black firefighter helmet.

Garland requires that all firefighters train up to the level of EMT-Paramedic. The reasoning is simple. If an ambulance and engine show up to a CPR, patients’ odds of survival drastically increase if they have five paramedics working on them versus two paramedics and three EMTs. Sending firefighters to paramedic school can be pretty costly. First, the city has to pay for tuition to the school for each firefighter. Then it has to pay for someone to cover the position at the station so that there is no shortage in staffing. So to minimize the financial and staffing impact, the fire departments send small groups through school in waves. As new firefighters are hired, they are added to a list, and as spots come up for paramedic schools, the firefighters who have been on the list the longest are to be sent.

Paramedic school is roughly three semesters of learning, which equates to forty-two credit hours or 1000 hours of instruction. The classwork consists of anatomy and physiology,
advanced trauma, special populations, pharmacology, and cardiology. The intent is to teach the prospective paramedics about the basic parts of the body, from cellular structure to organ interaction, so they can fully understand what goes on when a medication is injected into the patient or the body’s reaction to major trauma. They are also tasked with memorizing lists of medications that are used on ambulances, as well as their side effects and the list of conditions in which they must never be used (such as allergies or drug interactions). Mega codes are performed every week to simulate a full CPR, lasting for ten to twenty minutes, and with several special situations thrown in to test and challenge the students. Students will also have to practice pharmaceutical math and drug administration skills. They also learn and practice several advanced skills, such as IV initiation, IO initiation, endotracheal tube intubation, ECG rhythm identification, and quick tracheotomy application.

After a majority of the course work is completed, the students will add in hospital rotations. The student is responsible for completing 140 hours of hospital rotations. They will work in the Emergency Room, Intensive Care Unit, Psych Ward, Burn Unit, and Children’s Hospital. Here they will practice their skills and gain clinical experience working on real patients under the oversight of skilled nurses. After their hospital rotations are complete, they move on to their ambulance ride outs. They are required to attend 240 hours of supervised ambulance ride outs where they are taught first hand by skilled medics.

Once all course work, rotations, and ride outs are complete, the student can take the state certification test to become a paramedic. Upon successfully passing the test, the student becomes a paramedic. Of course, just because the state says the firefighter can now operate as a paramedic in the state of Texas doesn’t mean the testing is over. The Garland Fire Department has a Field Training Paramedic Program where the new paramedic attends two 8-hour classroom days of Garland-specific EMS Policies and Procedures. They then complete five 24-hours shift ride outs with senior paramedic trainers to ensure that all skill levels are up to Garland Fire Department standards. New paramedics are allowed to ride the ambulance once they graduate from the Field Training Paramedic Program.

All firefighters and paramedics are required by the state to maintain certain minimums of continuing education. Paramedics are required to get thirty-six hours a year, and firefighters are required to get twenty hours. Garland’s training division ensures that each firefighter and paramedic is trained far beyond the state mandated minimums.

 

Posted by txclogger on 09/21/2016
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Garland, Texas 75044

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