In Case of Emergency: Call Spencer

Upon returning from Stuttgart, Germany with KO’s Outlook and Voce choral groups, Spencer Schaller ’20 immersed himself at the EMT Program at the New Britain EMS Academy, learning skills necessary to control life-threatening situations or to stabilize non-life threating situations.

Schaller said on the first day of classes his teacher handed each student a daunting 2,000-page textbook of the material they would cover over the next several weeks. -- nine hours a day, three days a week. “Even though I’ve taken AP classes, it was overwhelming to think that I was responsible for learning this much material,” he said. During four hours in the morning, EMS professionals covered two or more chapters of new information and the afternoons were spent in practicals like dressing and bandaged wounds and learning how to provide artificial ventilation on dummies. Schaller preferred the afternoon lessons as they allowed him the opportunity to “fail and learn to try to do things properly.”

Schaller’s interest in emergency medicine began in his scouting days, and last summer he took a wilderness first aid class. Several of his friends at KO are also versed in emergency training. After his class, Schaller prepared for a grueling state licensing process. Although each state follows its own rules, Connecticut's protocol is governed by the National Registry of EMTs. The written section of the adaptive exam is comprised of 70 to 150 questions which become increasingly more difficult dependent upon your correct answers. Like most students, Schaller admitted a case of the jitters in taking the exam. “Even though I felt prepared - when you take a test - you just never know. If the test stops at 70 questions, the way it did for me, it means that you did either very well or you failed miserably.” (He passed.)  

The practical exam is five different stations where the trainee must perform CPR and AD, ventilate a patient and insert airways, provide both a medical and trauma assessment. Additionally, there is a random station where the trainees must either splint or control bleeding. Schaller felt the combination of a practical and written exam serves different students well. “Some people are better hands-on learners, others learn through a book. For me, those hands-on experiences in the afternoon were invaluable to show my knowledge.

In Connecticut, you must be at least 16 to receive your EMT license, but to be part of the national registry an individual needs to be 18. Now that Schaller is 18, he is seeking employment as an EMT on an ambulance Simsbury through a volunteer agency. “I look forward to the challenge,” he said.
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