I was reading a thread in an emergency services forum recently and noticed someone had asked how they could get more clinical training or “ride along” sessions during EMT Basic, before getting certified. Ride along sessions are for observation primarily, the trainee accompanies the emergency services team during a call, but without participating. They are simply “along for the ride” and to while learning how to become an emt. For many new EMT trainees, the hands on clinical time is the most exciting aspect of the training, for obvious reasons.
There are several things EMT-B trainees can do to enhance their education and make the process of getting certified much easier. Extra clinical time is one of them. Depending on the emergency service team in your area, some will allow students/civilians to ride along without participating, but most likely the call will need to be low priority/routine, nothing too critical. Most EMS programs require a minimum of 16 hrs ER time and roughly 12 hrs ambulance time. But requesting more ride along time or obtaining an internship and getting over 100 hrs more ambulance time will prove invaluable. The more calls that you can go on, the better, it doesn’t matter what your role on the ambulance is.
If your local service company doesn’t allow ride alongs, most likely they want to avoid any legal issues, Sometimes they may make you sign a waiver to go out on a call. However, before knocking on doors to inquire, make sure you know how to take and give a full set of vitals before you go. Sometimes trainees are allowed to do assessments and take vitals if they are comfortable as long as the call isn’t a critical.
Another opportunity to get more face time is to do an observation ride with a 911 service. Many newbies request observation ride alongs to make sure becoming an EMT is what they want to do. There’s no better way to make a career choice than to witness those who are already fully entrenched in the profession.
TIP: If you are given a choice of whether to go on a day or night ride, make sure you choose the daytime option, many EMTs tend to get grumpy on night shifts which will make the experience much less fulfilling and useful.
I suggest you be as active as the agency allows you to, but don’t open liability for the company by doing something they asked you not to, even if you already performed that in class and know how to do it.
One last option for obtaining more clinical time during EMT school is to join a volunteer department. You can join as an attendent/cadet before becoming certified, which will offer a lot of experience and knowledge while going through your training classes. You’ll also be able to work as much or as little as your schedule allows. Many volunteer EMTs only work a few days per month.