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Class During Covid: Paramedic Academy students prepare for new challenge

Published: Jan. 27, 2021 at 7:00 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 27, 2021 at 10:29 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Do you remember when you were getting close to wrapping up your schoolwork and about to start on-the-job training? You were kind of nervous, but you were relieved that things were just about done, and there was this whole new world ahead of you in your new job?

That’s what the Madison College Paramedic Academy students are feeling right now because they are wrapping up their college class work and lab work, getting ready to work out in the field to train with area paramedics on real calls.

Madison College Paramedic Program Director Brandon Ryan said, “They are ready! They’re in class 5 days a week and they have been since September.” He added, “They’re ready to get onto that next step, and they can feel that that end is right there and they’re ready to just be out there doing the job.”

Since September, the students have been learning advanced lifesaving skills in lectures, labs, and some clinical work, but now they will be paired up with real paramedics. The students will be taking the lead on the calls, under the supervision of the certified paramedics.

Student Allie Feys, a Madison firefighter working to be certified as a paramedic for the department, told me, “We’re rounding the corner here in our experience as paramedics and I think people are excited to actually get out in the field and get in an ambulance and really feel what it feels like to go out on these calls….and run these calls. There’s also a lot to be said for what you can learn in the field as opposed to the classroom. So, I think it will be really cool to be able to put that into play and kind of get that perspective on it.”

Feys left a job as an 8th Grade teacher and coach to pursue a childhood dream of becoming a firefighter two years ago. She’s been attending the Madison College Paramedic Academy full time since September, learning the skills necessary to become a paramedic. Feys is looking forward to getting back out in the community. “Once we’re in the field I think it will feel very natural for us, and it’ll feel really good to be back in the community and trying to help people.”

Given all the restrictions inside and outside of the classroom because of COVID, I asked Feys if it feels like the class has gone by quickly or slowly. She said, “That’s an interesting question, because it’s so much content and it’s so much thrown at you all at once that you’re doing in this short amount of time…that it seems like it’s forever! But it also seems like it’s very short because there’s so much being thrown at you so fast.”

Madison Firefighter/Paramedic Academy student Allie Feys and NBC15's John Stofflet
Madison Firefighter/Paramedic Academy student Allie Feys and NBC15's John Stofflet(NBC15)

Ryan, who is a paramedic himself, remembers being in his students’ shoes. “I was so terrified. I was overwhelmed. To be honest, you feel prepared, but then you get out there—it’s like any job, right? You have the theory and the knowledge and the skill set, but everyone presents (symptoms) a little differently. Things throw little wrenches at you, so to speak. And how do you adjust? That’s the on-the-job learning that we try our best to simulate and to provide for our students. But until you’re actually out there doing it you just don’t know.”

Once they complete their field training and then exams, the students will be certified as paramedics, going to work in communities around our area. Ryan said, “Come the end of April, we’re going to have a whole class of registered paramedics, ready for the work force It’s really nice to see them having success…and I talk a lot about that as an instructor. I get a lot out of their success as students.”

Feys is looking forward to the next phase—the additional learning opportunities that will come with on-the-job training. “The body is an amazing thing, and there’s a lot to learn about it. So, the learning definitely does not stop here and it’s going to continue throughout many, many years. I’ll learn many things on the job. I think that’s a really critical part is to kind of take that deep breath and realize, okay, I’m not going to know everything coming out fresh as a paramedic and there’s a ton that I’m going to need to learn on-the-job--that I’m going to get a lot of valuable experiences.”

I reminded Feys she has taught 8th graders, so she can deal with any situation. With a laugh, she answered, “Oh, let’s hope so.”

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