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July 13, 2021

When life is on the line: Crewmembers training for critical care

When life is on the line: Crewmembers training for critical care

Five LifeLine crewmembers are preparing to finish up a year of intense training. These EMTs make up the first class of the LifeLine paramedic program.

By IU Health Senior Journalist, T.J. Banes, tfender1@iuhealth.org

She started her emergency training as a volunteer fire fighter. That flame was fueled by her desire to help others. Four years ago, Regina Kayser became an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).

She now works for IU Health LifeLine in Blackford County. For the past year, she has joined four other EMTs in the first LifeLine paramedic program. The group will graduate on August 5.

“After being an EMT for several years I decided I wanted to do more for my patients. I can’t pick just one instance that stands out for me with the paramedic training - it’s the program as a whole, getting to know other people in different situations and feeling comfortable helping my patients no matter what situation,” said Kayser, 34.

Like others in the program, it’s a strong desire to be available to respond to any emergency that drives Kayser.

LifeLine began offering the training in response to a nationwide shortage of paramedics. Many emergency responders are affiliated with fire department-based services where they see the potential of expanding their careers, said James Christopher, a paramedic trainer who has worked with LifeLine since October of 2019.

On average, most Paramedic courses are 12-14 months, said Christopher. “The training encompasses all of the EMT curriculum as well as advanced airway management, pharmacology/med administration, advanced life support in medical/trauma emergencies both in adult and pediatric populations,” he said. Additional sub courses can include advanced cardiac life support, advanced pediatric life support, advanced medical life support, pre-hospital trauma Life support, and tactical emergency casualty care.

Erica Rothe has a bachelor’s degree in geo science. She worked in an engineering company before becoming a LifeLine EMT three years ago.

“When I worked in engineering it was the same thing every day. With EMS there is always something different,” said Rothe, 30, who works at the Gasoline Alley LifeLine base. “I chose to become a paramedic to further my skillsets. So far, the best part is learning the problem solving. Say you are working on someone who has a fever, fast heart rate and is lethargic. You pull all those things together to try to figure out what’s wrong and how to respond quickly.”

Like Rothe, Phillip Kirkwood, who works for LifeLine in Morgan County wanted to further his skills. He’s been an EMT for 10 years and joined LifeLine three years ago.

“I work around a lot of great paramedics and I enjoy pushing myself and challenging myself,” said Kirkwood, 30. “I’ve gained a lot of confidence through this program.”

Jane Feutz, has a degree in health science and has always had a goal of becoming a flight medic. She has been an EMT for nine years and works out of the LifeLine base in Indianapolis, Ind. “I always knew in high school I’d be in health care. I was actually in a nursing program but prefer the out-of-hospital setting,” said Feutz, 27. “I think my favorite part so far is learning more about cardiology and interpreting EKGs.”

With a degree in biology and forensic science, Elizabeth “Liz” Schneider switched from working in a research lab to a career in emergency care. Five years ago she became an EMT with LifeLine working from the IU Health Arnett Hospital base.

“It’s been so gratifying to help others and this training takes it to the next level,” said Schneider, 32. “Being a paramedic gives you more tools in the tool box. It gives you a greater scope of patient care from administering pain medications to stabilizing them. I like the idea of being able to go to a scene and giving people the reassurance they need that I am trained to help them.”

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LifeLine

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