By Sierra Hobson
In the last several months senior Megan DalSanto has been a student trainee at both Kaneland High School and more recently, Presence Mercy Medical Center in hopes of one day becoming a paramedic. Through DalSanto’s off-campus experiences she has been able to jump start her educational career. A common quote she has heard around the paramedic and EMT field which has inspired her is, “Always remember that it’s your voice in the darkness that gives hope to those who really need it.” I was able to speak with DalSanto about both her Fox Valley class and what she hopes to accomplish through this incredible opportunity.
- Why do you leave school and go to Kaneland every day and what do you learn about while you’re off campus?
A: “I am involved in the basic Emergency Medical Technician (EMT-B) course at Fox Valley Career Center. I leave after first block on a bus with other students and return to Batavia for B lunch and a skinny gym period, and then I have a normal fourth block. The class is a college accredited course, meaning it will transfer to the college I decide to go to. EMT-B involves everything starting from step one. We have learned about the history of EMS, medical terminology, anatomy/physiology, airway management, shock, medical emergencies, and we will continue on to learn about trauma, special patient populations (for example pediatrics), and EMS operations (like patient extrication and ambulance operations). Everyone in the class was CPR certified in our first week. Another fun part is that we respond to calls as medic crews of three or four students in class going through different scenarios that we could see in the field. We go from introducing ourselves to the patient, providing on-scene care, and then getting them strapped down on the cot and transporting them, if needed. It’s great preparation for the future.”
- What is your goal or purpose for taking this class? Are you planning on making a career out of this class?
A: “The great thing about our EMT class is that at the end of the year, qualifying students can attempt the national or state exam to earn their EMT-B license. This makes us eligible to get out in the field and start working for private companies, fire departments, and even emergency rooms. My goal is to pass that state exam, earning my license and then start my career, and advance further from there and go to paramedic school. So yes, I hope to make a career out of this class! My friends and I joke around, ‘Be nice to me, I’ll be your paramedic someday!’”
- Can you tell me about the clinicals you go to? Can you walk me through a typical day at the hospital?
A: “Our class has a requirement of 20 hours spent in an emergency room observing and participating in skills and patient care. I have already experienced this at Presence Mercy Medical Center and I enjoy it a lot. A typical day includes finding someone to shadow, introducing yourself as a student to the patients, and mostly observing what the doctors and nurses do for them. However, I take numerous sets of vital signs, assist with EKGs, help with wound care, and serve as a set of extra hands when treating patients. For example, I have gotten to help put a shoulder back into place, make a plaster cast and splint an arm by myself, take patients to X-ray and CT scan, and other cool things like that. A typical rotation for me is anywhere from 5-8 hours.”
- What inspired you to take this step in your education/future career?
A: “I always knew I wanted to do something in the healthcare field, although I never knew what. Every time I would see paramedics when I was younger, I thought they were the coolest people ever, out there saving lives being the first ones on scene. I decided I wanted to try that out, so that’s what inspired me to take EMT. By taking it as a senior in high school, it gives me a jump start, too.”
- What have you learned/advice you’ve received through class and clinicals to keep you grounded/keep going on “bad days” you may have in your future career?
A: “Bad days are going to happen. Things are going to go wrong. A chapter we covered in the first month of class was ‘Wellness of the EMT’ because it’s very true that this profession can be hard on a person. We are the first ones on scene. There’s no one there before us to clean up. We’re going to see bad things. We will deal with family members, stressful situations, and our own safety. Advice that I have received is to have something that you like to do, which for me is running, and always get adequate sleep. The people around me who aren’t involved in EMS may not understand what I’m going through, but it will be important to talk to them and explain how I’m feeling. By having a support system around me and taking care of my physical and mental well-being, I can keep going through those bad days.”
- As funny of a question as it sounds, what would be your dream case/job you could possibly experience as a paramedic?
A: “If things go as planned, I would like to advance to the paramedic level and eventually possibly even become a flight medic in a helicopter. There are a lot of cases I would like to see in the future, as bad as that sounds, but the opportunity to take care of people on one of their worst days is what I look forward to doing. I want to be there for them medically and emotionally. I haven’t done CPR for real yet, but I look forward to the day that I can save someone’s life with it.”