Rita Fadgyasne Nemeth has been a full-time paramedic with Greenville County EMS for the past seven years.
Fadgyasne Nemeth shared with Greenville Journal what training goes into becoming a paramedic, what her daily work routine is, how COVID-19 changed her job and the greatest misconception on what she does.
What kind of training goes into being a paramedic?
I received my EMT certification after a semester of training at Greenville Technical College. This was followed by four semesters of training to become a paramedic. In addition to training in the classroom setting, we rode on the ambulance and did clinical rotations at the emergency department while we were still students.
Is there any routine in what you do? If so, what does it look like?
We have protocols and checklists that are routine. For example, we check the ambulance before every shift, make sure that we have all the equipment and ensure the ambulance’s lights and sirens are working appropriately.
Also, as we are approaching every call, we place the appropriate personal protective equipment on and we check the scene for safety.
Outside of routines, I just have to adjust to each unique situation. This aspect — the constantly changing calls and situations — is the reason I love this job. Every call has different patients, complaints, personalities and scenes. They are never the same. We never know what the next call is, maybe it will just be a low severity call or a life-or-death situation.
How has COVID-19 changed your job?
When COVID-19 hit a year-and-a-half ago, there were a lot of questions. We did not know too much about the virus, so many things were uncertain. Every day, new information appeared in the news, information like how it spreads, what the symptoms are and how we can stay protected against the virus.
Initially, I was nervous. We were transporting really sick COVID-19 patients in a small, closed space in the back of the ambulance. We wore all of the personal protective equipment that was recommended, but there was still a chance to get the virus. I did not want to carry the virus home. I did not want my family to become sick because of me.
Since COVID-19, we are more conscious about disinfecting to protect our patients and ourselves. The most challenging part for me was having to wear the personal protective equipment, especially during summer. Part of our job is outside and it is really hard to wear a mask, gloves and a nylon gown in the hot, humid weather.
What is the biggest misconception about what you do?
Many people think we are just ambulance drivers. I have heard on so many occasions, “Don’t ask questions, just take me to the hospital.” We are trained to evaluate and treat patients.
For example, we are trained to start IV lines and to give medication to the patients. We are able to interpret cardiac rhythms and to treat different heart-related emergencies. We can intubate the patients if their airway is compromised. We are trained, if it is possible, to keep the most seriously injured patient alive until we arrive at the hospital.
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