Sunday, February 28, 2016

My Paramedic Certification

Tomorrow, after 19 years in EMS, 14 of which as a Paramedic, all in the paid sector, with some of the best agencies around, and some of the BEST people in the profession,I am letting my NYS Paramedic certification expire.  I obtained my EMT through the EMT class given at Irvington VAC by Judy Mayer in 1997, EMT-I at Phelps with Barry Nechis in 1999, and my Paramedic cert was obtained at Northeastern University in Boston, MA in 2003 (which at the time was the best Paramedic program in the nation).  I've been certified and credentialed in NY, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Texas, and National Registry over the years. I am currently happy in my current career, but I had hoped to work per-diem as a Paramedic, on the side, just because I enjoy helping people, the challenge, and keeping my skills up. Most recently, I worked a 12 hours shift Sundays at Garrison VAC, as a paid EMT, just for some extra money and to stay relevant in EMS, a job I left because of my cert expiring and my role and dedication at my full time job increasing.

With this, New York state is one of the most difficult states to retain your certification. First off, the NYS DOH website is extremely unclear, murky, and outdated.  Even if you complete CME's and Call Audits, you can't do the pilot refresher if you're not affiliated with an agency that  participates in that. Additionally, the class refreshers I have found don't work with my schedule, and require a lot of time to complete and study. Add on top of that, the need to get REMSCO credentialing for each region you work in, and can't obtain it if you're not affiliated, and all that a REMSCO cert requires on top of everything else, . And to have to pay for a lot of that out of pocket. I'd love to continue working Paramedic per-diem as mentioned above, but it doesn't look like that's going to be possible, right now. I even considered refreshing as an EMT, but even that is a lot. Maybe one day an opportunity will come my way to refresh, but it doesn't look like that will be possible.

For comparison purposes, other states allow Paramedics to be licensed professionals, and not have to prove themselves every 3 years. Some agencies don't do the whole REMAC thing, and the agencies protocols and Paramedic direction are usually set by the EMS Physician at a hospital. Some allow you to plain challenge using a computer testing facility.  And with technology today, I could do all of my CME and Call Audits online.

So, tomorrow is going to be a sad day for me. As I said above, I would have loved to go back to WEMS or Empress per diem,  especially to help them when manpower is stretched thin with everything now, but NYS doesn't want to keep pace with EMS recertification trends, and technology, they just want to lump on more and more requirements and changes in protocols without making any type of progressive change to retain experienced providers or recruit new providers, such as truly accepting NREMT-P reciprocity and utilizing modern technology for continuing ed. With this, I think the coming years will see a Paramedic shortage in the state.

Sorry for my rant. I'm probably repeating myself here. I've had such a great experience working in EMS. I was trained by the best programs with the best instructor. I've worked for great agencies, for and with the greatest people, and have learned so much. Bill Rothschild is my mentor and EMS hero and has done tons for my career, along with so many other people. Empress EMS provided a terrific foundation for my career, something I'll always be appreciative and loyal to that agency for.  Stamford Hospital also molded my BLS career. UMass City Of Worcester EMS (MA), Norwalk Hospital Paramedics (CT), and UMDNJ Newark EMS (NJ) were great places to get experience as a Paramedic. WEMS was a great system and area to work in, with great people, and was very challenging. Scott and White (TX) and Williamson County EMS (TX) were great and interesting places and a different world.  I'm actually pretty devastated over this, but accept it. Hopefully I can return one day.

I've been through a lot personally throughout my EMS career, especially during the past couple years, navigating through divorce, serious illness, and homelessness on the streets of Los Angeles for a couple of months. Thank you to Daryn Baia for giving me a shot to restart my Paramedic cert and for my second time around at Empress when I first returned to NY. RWC130 for helping me get back to NY from LA and start again. A shout out to the barrier door hating, Aerialscope loving great friend and big brother who has given me a chance after being homeless, and the stability and resources to rebuild my life, and have a great job at a great place that allows me a career in emergency services. And my mom for all her support and my Dad for helping me from heaven.