In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

September 2, 2014

Paramedics in Training Meet Case in Point

By In the Loop

The new paramedic training program at the Mayo School of Health Sciences is training the next generation of emergency medical technicians. On the first day of class, students in the new Emergency Medicine Paramedic Program at the Mayo School of Health Sciences will meet someone who is living proof of the importance of training programs such as theirs. Dan Anger, coordinator of the new program, will introduce his best friend and the person who convinced him (through his experience) to resign his position as an EMT and move to a full-time role as an educator. His goal: to ensure the next generation has the same opportunities and skills he's had.

Anger's friend, Rick Schacht, is a 53-year-old national racquetball champion from Rochester. In 2013, he collapsed from cardiac arrest during a tournament match in suburban Minneapolis. Before an ambulance rushed him to a hospital, he was revived through a series of shocks from a defibrillator and six minutes of CPR, thanks to paramedics who responded to the incident.

It came at a time when Anger was torn between his job with Mayo Clinic Medical Transport, where he had spent his entire career, and the idea of becoming a full-time educator. "I took that as a sign," Anger says. "Someone trained those paramedics to do what they did." So, in December 2013, Anger resigned as flight paramedic manager with Mayo One helicopters and Mayo MedAir fixed-wing aircraft to train folks equipped to fill his shoes.

The 10 students in the first class of the Emergency Medicine Paramedic Program will be happy to find that they are already in demand. "Through attrition, there is a constant need for new paramedics," Anger says. "People retire and move on to new positions ... We now have a shortage of paramedics in our area." Gold Cross took the lead in developing the training program with Mayo School of Health Sciences and Rochester Community and Technical College. Read more in the fall issue of Connections magazine.

Most students will have been drawn to the field through personal experience, according to Anger. "People who become paramedics want to help people. They usually have a history -- some type of event that steers them into this," he says. "Either someone close was saved by a paramedic or there was an emergency, and no one was able to help." And through the program, they'll learn to tackle those real life emergencies themselves, getting past the excitement of sirens and chaos "to strategically care for the patient.

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Tags: Education, Medical Education Stories, Medical Transport, Paramedics

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