“Everything you encounter in EMS as a paramedic is black and white,” writes NREMT Paramedics Samuel Adams and Christian Adams in “Life And Death Matters: Professionalism and Decision-Making for the First Responder.” “There is no gray, only indecision. Indecision causes you to think that unfolding events are muddled or convoluted. Indecision causes you to think there are more difficult choices than there really are. Looking at situations and believing that things are gray is really just an expression of indecision. You just lack the decisiveness to act.”

To address this indecision, EMS students are trained not only in the classroom, going over lecture notes and PowerPoints, but also by leaving the classroom and going into hospital emergency rooms and ICUs where they can apply what they’ve learned in the classroom in real world situations, says Billy Whitson, EMS Outreach Program Manager at Texas Health Plano. 

When COVID-19 pandemic hit erupted in March, the clinical training portion of the program shutdown abruptly. Limited on Personal Protective Equipment, hospitals weren’t allowing them in. “[It was just] adding another person and another set of gloves,” Whitson says. 

As time went on, Whitson met with Josh Floren, president of Texas Health Plano, and Scott Flockhart, the ER manager at Texas Health Plano, and expressed that they had a whole generation of first responders who needed to finish their paramedic school. So they set out on a journey to figure out a way to offer the proper tools for students to practice their new craft safely in the hospital, not just for themselves but also for the staff and the patients. 

By early October, they had figured it out, and Texas Presbyterian Hospital Plano released a press release announcing the new Paramedic Preceptor Program, which allows students from Collin College, University of Texas at Dallas, and Elite EMT Academy to complete 48 hours of training in the ER at Texas Health Plano. 

“We are honored to partner with our local EMS providers in their Preceptor on Duty programs as they prepare new first responders to serve our community,” Floren said in the Oct. 6 press release. “We know the EMS students are receiving excellent clinical training from Texas Health Plano staff members who are committed to the highest standards in emergency care.”

texas health plano program
The instructors: naomi paget, er nursing supervisor; kimberly grissom, paramedic; alex hernandez, paramedic; lauren gamache, paramedic; erica miller, paramedic; steve reynolds, paramedic; jose muro, paramedic; amanda mendez, er nursing supervisor / courtesy of texas health plano

Whitson says they’ve already had one group of pre-med students from University of Texas at Dallas complete the 48-hour program. Another EMS group arrives Friday. He says they can expect 48-hour rotations and 24-hour ride outs with the local fire department.

Or as Collin College EMS Program Coordinator Greg Cox put it in the Oct. 6 press release: “The program is essential to an EMT’s training.”

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Christian McPhate

Christian has been working as a freelance journalist in North Texas for more than a decade. His stories have appeared in the Dallas Observer, the Houston Press, and Rolling Stone magazine. He covers a...