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Newly Promoted EMTs and Paramedics Join Team to Train New Hires

REMSA recently announced the newest additions to its Field Training Officer (FTO) program. Andrew Massey, REMSA EMS Supervisor and FTO program coordinator works with Ryan Ramsdell, EMS Supervisor and FTO program coordinator to oversee the FTO program. We talked with Andrew and two of the newest FTOs- Andy Sahagun, Paramedic and Savanah Green, Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (AEMT) to learn more. We heard about the selection and training process for FTOs, as well as what Savanah and Andy hope to give and get in their role as an FTO.

Q. Describe the FTO selection and training process?
AM: Interested candidates apply to the internal job posting for additional responsibilities. Before applicants are selected for interviews, they answer questions related to their experience and interest in the position. During the interview, they are asked about conflict resolution and are required to demonstrate their ability to teach a skill and write documentation on a sample call. Successful candidates are selected based on their performance in the field, as well as during the interview. Once chosen, they attend an FTO and Preceptor class that is taught by an FTO Coordinator and existing FTO.

Q. Is there training to become a field training officer?
AM: Yes! During this daylong class, they review the basics of adult learning and get acquainted with the ethical and legal considerations of being an FTO. We also cover how they fit into the priorities and structure of the organization, how to have successful interactions with trainees, and discuss interpersonal communication. One of the key things to address is helping the new FTOs understand how to use their judgment about what needs to be addressed immediately and what can wait until after a call, as well as how to offer that feedback tactfully.

Q. What are the main responsibilities of an FTO?
AM: FTOs are key to the successful integration of new hires at REMSA. They evaluate weekly goals with new hires and provide hands-on, active guidance (as well as complete a lot of paperwork) related to driving an ambulance, patient care, charting proficiency and skills assessments which can range from knowing how to properly check their gear to knowing how to successfully perform a cricothyrotomy.

Q. How does an FTO know when a new hire is ready to clear?
AM: In addition to them meeting specific metrics, goals and skills assessments, many FTOs will tell you that they know their new hire is ready to be cleared because they would be comfortable with that new paramedic or EMT providing care to their loved one.

Q. How long have you worked in EMS/with REMSA?
SG: I have been with Remsa for three years working in multiple departments within the company, and have been in the field as an AEMT for a little over a year.

AS: I have been with REMSA for three years. I have been in EMS for five years and I have also been an Aeromedical Evacuation Technician with the Air Force for ten years.

Q. What attracted you to work in EMS?
SG: Since a young age, I have wanted to work in the medical field. I thrive in a fast-paced environment so when a friend who worked in EMS would tell me stories about the job, it occurred to me that emergency medicine was where I saw myself. It’s a chance to provide care for a variety of different medical complaints and patients but to do so in a variety of unpredictable locations and situations. Every day is something new, which makes this job interesting and keeps us on our toes.

AS: What drew me to work in EMS was the Boy Scouts – while we were learning first aid, I realized I was interested in this. Then I went to work as a lifeguard and it really became solidified when I joined the Air Force to become an Aeromedical Evacuation Technician. Since then I have done different types of jobs but none as rewarding as EMS.

Q. What’s most challenging/rewarding about working in EMS?
SG: Having to think as you go and adapt treatment plans based on the specific calls and situations you’re in makes the work rewarding. Often, we are providing care to patients in a fraction of the ideal room size with dim lighting and loud noises. It is a challenge in itself to control a scene but to treat and provide care simultaneously it is an incredible task. I think the most rewarding thing about what we do is being able to provide comfort to people who are often having their worst day. It’s nice to be able to help make the experience a little less scary and to be there for patients and their families.

AS: The most challenging part of being in EMS would be not knowing what the day is going to look like but this can also be the most exciting. The most rewarding part of EMS for me would be knowing that any day I can make a positive impact in someone’s life.

Q. Why were you interested in becoming an FTO?
AS: I want to see REMSA grow and succeed and I believe that can start with helping to train the new hires.

SG: I have a passion for training and education and training someone else is one of the greatest ways to grow personally. I have found comfort in the educators and mentors that helped shape me for positions that I’ve acquired, and I love having the chance to be that person for someone else.

Q. What are you most looking forward to about being an FTO?
AS: I am looking forward to moving back into an education role. Education has become a passion of mine since I have been in the Air Force and I want to bring that passion to REMSA as well.

SG: I am excited to see all of my trainees succeed in the field and to what they will go on to accomplish. I’m stoked to hear about their exciting experiences and be there for them if they need to chat – during their training or any time after they clear.

Q. How do you see FTOs fitting into the leadership structure of our organization?
SG: – FTOs can be very influential for new field employees. They are instructors, mentors, and often eventually friends of trainees. I think they are looked up to by others and lead by example, not just by training.

AS: I see FTOs as the first impression new hires have about the organization. Before they work with their partner on the ambulance, an FTO has the chance to make sure they will succeed – that is where FTOs shine.

Q. It’s clear that FTOs have an important role to play in terms of onboarding new hires. Tell us a little about how you plan to approach your FTO role. 
AS: I plan on approaching my new role as an FTO by being an advocate for the community and REMSA. I want to make sure that the new hires I train will provide the best care for our community because we have a very unique community here in Washoe County.

SG: I think it’s important to effectively communicate and create an environment where everyone is comfortable asking questions and having conversations – even if they are difficult. Overall, training should be a positive experience where trainees get a lot of new information and feel excited to learn and grow!

Q. Why do people become FTOs?
AM: As an FTO you are required to be at the top of your game – up to date on protocols, managing paperwork, confident in your clinical knowledge, in touch with what’s going on around the organization and prepared to answer questions and provide guidance. It keeps you on your toes, but you get to influence and shape the future of the organization and out-of-hospital care – and that is incredibly rewarding.

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