By Liz Beck
Pembina County 911 Coordinator
Jan Samson, with the help of many other instructors, Continuing Education Coordinators and volunteers, teaches people from the ground up how to be good EMS responders, and keep them educated so they can provide the best patient care to others.
Jan is the County EMS Education Training Coordinator, and a Paramedic for Cavalier Ambulance Service. She models a high standard of compassion and dependable care, which is instilled in EMS responders who serve in our communities. Responders are volunteers primarily, and contribute countless hours to help those in need, not only during emergencies but with continuing education requirements and as Ambulance or Medical Quick Response members.
Trainers seek to expose students early on through either Ambulance ride-alongs, or an intensive class session where they face real life and death situations. “It takes a dedicated person to become good in EMS,” Jan said. “They can decide whether EMS work is the right fit for them, and are never forced.”
To help students succeed in class, she uses actual scenarios, without identifying patient names or where the patient is from. People learn the critical thinking of what to anticipate in EMS. “You can teach the book, and students can learn it well, but everything is different when it comes to human beings,” Jan said. For example, with chest pains, a man usually has mid sternal pain. A woman may have gastric or heartburn pain that radiates into their back. “Students like hearing the stories, and learning how to think it through, to get where they want to be with patient care,” said Jan.
We’re extending beyond Pembina County
“Six to ten students on average are trained each year, with some starting out as an Emergency Medical Responder (EMR), and some going on to be an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT),” said Jan. This “educational year”, 9 EMRs graduated in November and 13 EMTs are graduating April 2nd. This is a total of 22 new members in EMS. Of this number, 8 are being trained over the remote video training system (Vidyo), 4 EMT’s from Plaza ND, 2 EMTs from Langdon, and 2 EMRs from Walhalla.
The initial idea for remote video training began when Jan participated in training through the North Dakota Interactive Video Network (IVN) in 2012, which was flawless. After several attempts through various channels to see if she could implement a similar training experience locally with limited funding, Cavalier Ambulance Service partnered with her as the EMS Education Training Coordinator, to purchase the equipment, a $20,000 investment. It is a win-win relationship that benefits everyone. Jointly, they were licensed on October 21, 2015 to become a state certified Training Center, and “Cavalier Ambulance – PC EMS Education Training Institute” was established.
“National and State Practical testing can be completed at the Training Center now, instead of needing to travel to Bismarck,” said Jan. Continuing education is more accessible and affordable to the volunteers in our communities and other counties who participate.
Outreach Ambulance Services who remotely train, purchase a big screen TV, webcam and speaker phone that can be muted when needed. Remote sites also have instructors on-site who are hired by PC EMS Education, so that when students practice, trainers guide them.
“Give it a try and see if you’re made for it”
When Jan lived in the country, she used to watch the Ambulance go by and always wanted to be a part of it, but never lived close enough. When she moved into town, Lisa LeTexier, a keen observer from the Ambulance Service, said “we sure could use a driver.” Jan moved from being a driver to an EMT to a Paramedic in 5 years’ time, because “The best place to be is in the back of an ambulance, taking care of somebody.”
“We need people to be involved in EMS, whether it’s because they want to become an EMT and help in the ambulance, or fundraising, or help get the word out about our local Ambulance Services,” said Jan. To anyone who thinks they could help and be an EMR or EMT, she suggests they sit through a class or request an Ambulance ride-along. “Give it a try and see if you’re made for it,” said Jan. “Many people who ride along realize, ‘I could do this, I really could do this.’ ”