Becoming an emergency medical technician (EMT)

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Emergency medical services (EMS) are a vital part of emergency medicine, with their dedicated personnel standing at the ready to help to those in need. The profession isn’t for everyone, but for those who answer the call, the rewards are great. One of the first steps to becoming an emergency medical technician (EMT), the entry level of an EMS crew, is to take an EMT-Basic Course. It teaches all of the skills necessary for an individual to provide emergency medical care at a Basic Life Support level with an ambulance or other specialized service. Many Advanced Life Support ambulance services offer this course, Tri-County Health Care included.

“We have an 89-percent pass rate,” Paramedic Renee Miller said of TCHC’s EMT-Basic Course. “We’re cost efficient, and we have local instructors who are dedicated to the success of future of EMS professionals.”

Though it’s not a given, Renee said graduates of the class often come back to work at TCHC. “We can evaluate their skill levels on the trucks when they’re in class,” she said. “We hire a lot out of our classes.”

Gasiem Gonzalez, EMT, took the course last summer before being hired at TCHC in September.

“Working and riding along with everybody here, it was a close-knit community,” he said. “It was easy to get along with everyone. They’re very hands-on. It’s very easy to approach pretty much anybody.”

Before last year, Gasiem didn’t believe he would be a good fit for EMS, instead thinking he would pursue a position in the shipping industry or something similar.

“The ambulance and the hospital scene, I thought it would be too much of a responsibility for me,” he said. “I didn’t know how to cope and deal with the atmosphere, so I never cared to pursue it.”

But then Richie Rexach, paramedic at TCHC, encouraged Gasiem to sign up for the next EMT-Basic Course.

“He thought I’d be a good fit, so I gave it a shot and ended up liking it,” Gasiem said. “It’s not just a job. It’s something that I can use to help other people in their time of need. On the worst day of their life, I get to help make it a little bit better or have purpose.”


Hands-on teamwork

Once a student completes the EMT-Basic Course, they are eligible to take the exam for the National Registry to get certified as an EMT-Basic in the state of Minnesota. After that, they must

Gasiem Gonzalez, EMT

complete 24 (state) to 48 (national) hours of continuing education every two years to maintain their certification. This continuing education can be done at TCHC.

This year, TCHC’s course will feature a primary instructor and implement other instructors in order to expose students to a variety of knowledge and experience.

The overall atmosphere and hands-on attitude of the team are reasons why Gasiem believes TCHC’s EMT-Basic Course is a step above the rest.

“I know from experiencing it here, it’s very close-knit, and you can ask anybody a question, no matter how stupid it may seem. Just ask a question and they’ll tell you, and they’ll generally give you a reason why. You can use that to train yourself and remember it.”

Gasiem also noted that anyone interested in taking the course should focus fully on the class and avoid extra schooling.

“If you’re doing that at the same time as taking your EMT class, you’re going to burn out,” he said. “I’ve seen a few students pass and then felt like they couldn’t do it because they were so burnt out and left. Focus on one thing at a time.”


EMT-Basic course sign up 

The EMT-Basic course at TCHC begins on Sept. 9 and runs through Dec. 19. It will be held every Monday and Thursday from 6 to 10 p.m., and some Saturdays. This 144-hour course includes CPR, Fisdap and skills testing.

Pre-registration is required, and there is a maximum capacity of 15 spots. For questions or for more information, contact Renee Miller at To register, click here.