From US volunteer to qualified Paramedic – become a qualified paramedic Brian’s story

Choosing the right pathway to become a Paramedic can often be confusing. Here in Australia, the traditional pathway is to enrol in a 3 year university course and study a Bachelor degree in Paramedic Science.

Or like many others who simply want to experience what it’s like to work in the emergency healthcare industry, start off by completing a HLT41120 – Certificate IV in Heath Care, and for some, the next step is to complete the HLT51020 – Diploma of Emergency Health Care.

For students of the Australian Paramedical College, we like to share stories from around the world to give everyone as many perspectives as we can.

With that in mind – here is the real story of Brian Breithaupt who is a paramedic with the Diaz Memorial Ambulance Service in the state of New York in the United States.

How did you become a qualified paramedic and get into the industry?

“I actually called Diaz Ambulance Service to take me to the hospital many years ago. At that time they were a blended agency with a mix of volunteers as well as full staff members. I lived down the road and thought after that experience, why not become a volunteer.  I began as a volunteer over 20 years ago and am currently a full-time employee.”

“I started as a volunteer driver “

“I started as a volunteer driver working on shifts with a paramedic running calls. Diaz Ambulance is a doorway to the EMS field. Many start their learning here. I learned a lot and this made me want to become an EMT and sparked my interest in becoming a paramedic.”

What did you do for work previously?

I worked at IBM computers until I was asked to look for another career.

What personal qualities make a good paramedic?

I wanted to become a qualified paramedic because I felt I was a caring person.  As a Paramedic, you have to think quickly on your feet and be good with people in general. A paramedic is always studying and involved in education, is medically driven and always wants to learn more. There is ongoing training and certifications to complete, so you have to enjoy learning.

What type of training is involved?

Driving the ambulance (in the USA) is where we start our training, and then the medical training prepares you to start as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).  After I completed that I went into ‘EMT intermediate’ as the next level.

I studied for a full year at the Hudson Valley Community College paramedic training to become certified. This involved comprehensive state testing, and re-certification every three years. There are a lot of other certifications I have to keep up to date; that includes CPR and many state certifications and additional regional testing. I attend medical lectures and learn as much from the doctors when I attend hospitals.

What it is like driving an ambulance?

The most frustrating thing is that people don’t obey the laws or are not considerate of the other people on the road. We are trying to save lives and we are here for the community. Many challenges are involved and sometimes road conditions in the winter can be very dangerous.

What is the best thing about your job?

Helping someone is the best. Seeing that we made a difference in improving someone’s life is just a great day.

What is a not so good day on the job?

Losing a life is always the worst; lots of tragedy out there in the field.

How has the job changed?

There have been many changes since I began 20 years ago, especially in the technology. We began with paper reports and now do electronic reporting. We have gone from bandaging up people to reversing cardiac arrest. I have seen many major technological advances.

Anything else you would like to share?

We paramedics are here for the community. We would like people to be aware that they should have their houses well marked and well lit so we can find them more easily at night. Always dial 9-11 (000 in Australia) and be very clear with the person on the other end of the phone as to your current location and be very specific about the reason for your call.

Gather as much identification and personal information as you can to help us paramedics be more efficient when we arrive on site.

Where do you see yourself ten years from now?

I have been doing this for 20 years. I see myself still doing this. My passion is to serve the community.

Brian’s story reveals the traits of a good paramedic

What a fantastic story from Brian. It paints a picture as to why paramedics are highly regarded in the community. Brian’s passion for his work and dedication to helping others is high on his list of priorities.

Having well-developed inter-personal skills is also one of the most desired traits of any profession, yet paramedics seem to be especially good at this.

Brian described the traits of a paramedic beautifully when he said you need to be a quick-thinking and caring individual; and be good with people in general.

He went on to say; a paramedic is medically driven and is always studying and involved in continuous self-education because of the desire to learn more.

Fine words indeed!

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