Meet… Joseph Itzkowitz

Joseph has been an instructor with Emergency Care Programs for many years and is happy to share some of his history in the field with our students. Let us know if you have any questions for Joseph :)

When did you decide you want to become an EMT?
I've always wanted to help people (I still do). When I was in high school, I didn't know what I wanted to do (professionally) but I would look up to my older brother who was an EMT. I guess I wanted to follow in his footsteps.

Did you volunteer / intern as an EMT before you made it your career?
I took my initial course while in College and was approached by a member of the volunteer squad, I joined immediately. I still volunteer in my community.

What is your Level of Certification? EMT/Paramedic/Lab Instructor/ Lead Instructor?
I am a Paramedic and a Lead Instructor, currently active in both respects.

How do you keep sharp in your own skills?
Constant practice and review. Medicine is constantly evolving and you need to be up to date with information. We also forget things faster than we learn it. I try to review the information I don't utilize as much, so I will know it when I need it (not after). As the old saying goes: "If you don't use it, you lose it".

What is your most inspirational "save"?
A few years ago, a woman stopped me while I was working one day and started to thank me for helping her. I honestly didn't recognize her and she introduced herself and proceeded to describe the situation in which I saved her life. At that moment, it registered in my mind like a switch turned up, and I remembered the entire incident and how I saved her. It hit me then, about how vital our work in EMS is. The importance of not only saving a life, but the impact we have on someone else and their entire life, their family, their friends, all their experiences. It was different from the moment I was able to help her in her time of need so much, she remembered me YEARS later.

How's the camaraderie on the job with your fellow EMTs?
EMS isn't just a job, it is a life. Therefore, my fellow EMS people are like my brothers and sisters. Some are like best friends,s some might not all get along, we may fight sometimes; but at the end of the day I know they'd have my back just as I would get theirs.

What advice can you give others who want to become an EMT?
If you are committed to the field and really want to do this, you have to work at it. The field is not financially worth it, but the greater payoff is worth it. Read, read, read, and study. I also enjoy teaching as it is an every day experience to learn something new and review for those things I may not always get a chance to practice.

How do you encourage others to follow this career path?
The truth: No matter what happens during my shift, at the end of the day (or night) I can sleep peacefully with the knowledge that I made a difference in someone else's life, helped those in need when they needed it most, and touched another human soul in a way, only those in EMS can do / understand.

Words of wisdom for our students / future-EMT's?
Be professional, regardless of the situation or your surroundings, always think first & act professionally. You are better than anything that comes your way.

Are New York City EMT's Prepared for Terror?

NYC is reeling from the shock of Tuesday's terror attack, in which a truck barreled down a crowded street, killing eight. There is no doubt that EMS response prevented further deaths in the twelve victims who were injured, some critically. As Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill said, "[t]he Fire Department and the EMS personnel surely helped save additional lives."

But this incident raises a very important question.
Is the New York City EMS network prepared for terror attacks? A quick look at the facts indicates that they are. In recent years, the FDNY has ramped up equipment and training for such attacks. In November 13, 2015, a few attacks in Paris killed 130 people, including 89 in a nightclub as the shooters engaged in an hours-long standoff with law enforcement. This was followed by the June 12 massacre of 49 people in an Orlando night club. These incidents changed the departments perception of mass casualty incidents, said Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro, because in both cases, it is highly likely that some of the victims could have been saved with prompt treatment.

What prevented quicker EMT response in those terror attacks?
During the terror attacks in Paris and in Orlando, EMTs could not respond to victims immediately because there was still active shooting. They did not have the protective equipment that would have allowed them to enter the scene while it was still a "warm zone." "It was clear the FDNY must train closely with the NYPD to enhance the city's response to these deadly incidents. Our members stand ready to enter dangerous areas -- under NYPD protection -- to quickly remove and treat critically injured patients," Nigro said.

How has EMT training in NYC changed since then?
The FDNY has created five borough task forces, with 75 members in each, who are equipped to respond immediately to terrorist or other mass casualty incidents. Each task force consists of three fire officers, three EMS officers, 12 firefighters, six EMS members, and one battalion chief.

What makes these task forces unique?
Unlike most first responders, these EMS workers will enter a dangerous scene, also known as a warm zone, directly after the police. Because they will be trained and equipped to remain safe despite still-present danger, they will be able to reach victims significantly faster.

What equipment is given to the EMTs in the task force?
The FDNY purchased military-grade protective equipment including full combat helmets and FBI approved ballistic bullet proof vests, which are effective against both handguns and long guns.

How exactly are the task forces trained to enter the scene?
Each task force is broken into several entry teams, each consisting of a fire officer, one EMS officer, four firefighters and two EMS members. Four strategic response NYPD officers accompany each entry team to provide protection while they work on victims with critical injuries.

Has this program ever been tested before Tuesday's event?
Unfortunately, yes. The task forces were first tested during last year's Sept 17 bombing in Chelsea. Considered a warm zone since there was still a threat of a second bomb in the area, the EMS workers were brought in to evacuate the wounded from the area. In addition, a partial 25-member unit is activated for major city events such as parades and New Year's Eve as a precautionary measure.

Reading & Understanding a Textbook

Reading and writing, are usually the first two things we learn when we start school. Hand in hand with these two are their brothers and sister; spelling and grammar. If they are the first and foremost things we learn every year in approximately 12 years of school, then why are so many people so bad at it. I am no expert; in fact you probably will find some grammar and punctuation mistakes in this blog. But, no matter, I will attempt to offer some helpful hints on how to read EMT technical material for all you students out there.
First know that reading a textbook is very different than reading a novel or story.

Starting a chapter

1. Read the preview or objectives first. They will point you in the direction your attention should take and set the stage for serious learning later.

2. Read the summary next. It will tell you what is most important.

3. Skim the text. This step will help you develop a big picture by looking for headings, bold print and main ideas.

4. Pay attention to the vocabulary. Find definitions of new or difficult words now. Is there a glossary? (A glossary is an alphabetized list of words and their meanings) Write them down so you do not forget.

5. Examine charts, pictures and diagrams. Ask yourself why is this important.

6. If you have done all of the above, you are now ready for in-depth reading. This is reading more slowly and following the reasoning of the text, since now you have a pretty good idea of what is important.

7. Take notes while you read. It keeps your brain from getting tired.

8. After you have read a few paragraphs, stop & think about what you have read. If you do not understand, then go back and reread. If it is still confusing, try to google the concept. Sometimes the internet has an easier or different way of explaining things.

9. To be a successful reader and understand what you are reading you need to be awake & alert. Don't try this when you are sleepy, you will drool on the book.

10. Even the best readers must reread and take notes to remember what they read.

11. It is quite acceptable to write or make notes in the margins of your textbook or use bright colors of sticky notes.

12. Instead of just taking regular notes, also make some Mind Maps (grouping related information in a highly visual manner) as popularized by Tony Buzan (Use Both Sides of Your Brain). Two examples are Arrow Graphics and showing Contrasts and Similarities, shown below.

Mind maps DO make a measurable difference in the scientific studies of learning. Some EMT Instructors will try and simplify things and make them for you, others will give you handouts that seem to be more complicated than the textbook. In either case, you should start making your own. It will help you to study and really learn the information.

Well, I hope there were some or all parts of this article that you found helpful. Like all things, reading takes practice. Keep practicing!

Medical Terminology for the EMT Student

Meet...Yosef Travis

Yosef has been an instructor at Emergency Care Programs for some time and is happy to share his EMT history with our students. Let us know if you have any questions for Yosef.

When did you decide you want to become an EMT?
On my second day of college, I walked into the student run EMS squad and signed up. My brother and his wife had both volunteered there, so it was the first thing on my mind. I ended up spending all my time there between classes and held a variety of officer positions.

What 1 event (good/bad/ugly) in life factored into your decision to save lives and become an EMT?
Nothing earth shattering led to my decision to become an EMT. My first job was in human services, so I guess it just made sense for me. I was already volunteering at an EMS squad when I took the EMT course, so I'm sure the peer influence helped too!

Tell me the best way to find an EMT job?
It really depends on what you want to do with your EMT certification. However, many EMTs start in private transport companies and either work their way up or move along to hospital/municipal positions once they have some experience.

What is your Level of Certification? EMT/Paramedic/Lab Instructor/Lead Instructor
I'm an Emergency Medical Technician – Basic (EMT-B) and a Certified Instructor Coordinator (CIC).

How challenging is it being an EMT?
It's challenging because there is a high level of stress that comes with being involved in EMS. It's also physically challenging, so staying fit is an absolute necessity. I encourage my students to think about why they want to be an EMT. I hope that they can focus on those reasons when the work gets tough.

How do you keep sharp in your own skills?
It's actually easier for me as an instructor to keep sharp, because I interact with a whole range of EMTs and I use my conversations with them to constantly improve my own practice. I recommend to all EMTs that they find opportunities to review and improve their skills by reading journals, participating in skill drills, and talking to experienced EMTs who strive to stay on top of their game.

How's the comradery on the job with your fellow EMTs?
There are a lot of truly dedicated EMTs and paramedics who I have met who have helped me and influenced me as an EMT. With these colleagues, there's always the awareness that we are all there for each other and for the same end goal. Sure, there are some who are just "punching the timecard", but much of the EMS community in NYS is comprised of people who really care, about their patients, about their partners, and about the community.

What advice can you give others who want to become an EMT?
Clarify to yourself what your motivation is for becoming an EMT. Seek out mentors who will guide you and offer a listening ear when the going gets tough. And above all, never mock any patient (even among your colleagues), because it's a slippery slope once you stop respecting the people for whom you are supposed to care.

Why do you enjoy teaching your students?
For me, it is truly satisfying to take a new class on a journey through the ins and outs of prehospital care and see them go on to become dedicated EMTs (and perhaps EMS educators)!

How do you encourage others to follow this career path?
Everyone who takes a class with me has already made a decision to become an EMT. It is my responsibility to help them nurture that original idea and develop a strong knowledge and skill base, so they can reach their true potential in EMS.

Being an EMT Student

The first time I walked into the classroom, I was nervous.

Why had I come - was I making the right decision? I wanted to help people, some of my family members had become ill from stroke, heart disease and diabetes and I wanted to help them. They were getting older. I wanted to know what to do in emergencies, like those people I saw on TV or in the movies. They seemed to always know.

Once I got into CPR and bleeding & bandaging, I was hooked. I found a friend who wanted to pass as much as I did. We studied together before and after class.

We made index cards with important facts and flashed them to each other like in Jeopardy. It was hard, but we kept studying and practicing and having a good time. We would compete to see who could get the higher grades and before we knew it the course was over and we had passed our state exams.

I couldn't help it - I loved the flashing lights, the uniforms and working with the medical equipment.

I felt good because I was now part of something much bigger than myself. I knew the city in a way other people did not. I had my fingers on its pulse and knew when it was hurt and scared or celebrating and 'under the influence.' I watched more experienced EMT's and hospital personnel and yes, I continued to study. Emergency care is an ever-changing and evolving field, and I wanted to learn all I could. Then, with my EMT certification and my driver's license I got a job!

Helpful Hints on How to Pass your First EMT Class

1. Find a private & quiet space or corner in your home where you can set up a table, chair and lamp and where you can leave your study materials out without anyone disturbing them.

2. Purchase the book at or before the first day of class. Purchase a highlighter.

3. Post a wall calendar at your study space and mark the dates assignments are due. Look at you class schedule daily. Stay ahead of the reading.

4. Buy a pack of index cards so you can write down vocabulary words or names of medical conditions with the meanings + signs and symptoms written on the back. Carry them around and test yourself whenever you have some spare time during the day.

5. Always complete the assigned reading one or two days before the class.

6. List questions about the assigned reading the day before the class.

7. Listen carefully to the lecture & take notes. If the instructor has not answered your questions in the lecture, then ask.

8. Listen carefully when they review quizzes/exams. Many questions are repeated over and over again.

9. Find a friend in the class that lives near you. Plan to meet before or after class to review notes and test each other on your stack of index cards.

10. During skill sessions, make sure you take your turn at doing the skill. Don't be afraid of making mistakes, practice makes perfect. Sitting there watching others does not develop muscle memory.

11. Attend as many free tutoring sessions as you can. Bring questions, take notes.

12. The book is not a novel (story) and cannot be read that way. Some pages need to be read over and over. Go to your study area every day when you are fully awake and study one topic at a time. Small bites are easier to digest.

13. Be your own coach. Someone needs to make you sit down & study and if mom and dad aren't available any more, then that person is you....READ/STUDY/READ!


CPR & First Aid in your Workplace

If you have spent just one time not knowing what to do in an emergency, then it is time to learn.

We previously spoke about spending a few hours at your workplace learning CPR, so now I must reiterate the benefits of also learning basic first aid skills. There can be hours at the office that turn out to be unproductive time, so why not schedule a CPR and Basic First Aid class for just a few hours before, after or during the work day.

It is knowledge that everyone needs to know so why not do it where you spend the majority of your time. It will not take long and, chances are, it will help you, your loved ones and people around you.

Scheduling a CPR and Basic First Aid Class for your workplace is easy. Depending on how many people you have in your group, the instructor(s) will come to you, bringing along manikins, AED trainers and First Aid supplies so you can practice the skills being taught. All they need is some space. I can remember training groups of people in the hallways, lobbies, libraries or conference rooms of schools, court buildings and even museums. There was never a time when we didn't have fun doing it either. Heart Attacks, Stroke, Allergic Reactions, Diabetes, Choking, Bleeding, Burns, Bites are some of the topics that can be covered. You can also ask that specific subjects be covered if your workplace has a need or an interest. In workplaces dealing with machinery, traumatic injuries can be covered whereas in court buildings with a gym, then medical issues such as heart attacks, stroke and diabetic emergencies would be discussed. We can easily taylor your 'need to know' into a CPR and Basic First Aid Class for your organization, teaching it all in the same day or breaking it up into parts.

Treat your employees to something more important than monthly birthday parties. Allow us to teach them skills that could save a life.

Meet...Todd Rosenhaus

Todd has been an instructor with Emergency Care Programs for many years and is happy to share his EMT history with our students. Let us know if you have any questions for Todd ?

When did you decide you want to become an EMT?
It all started because of the TV show "EMERGENCY" that I watched (and still watch) when I was growing up.

What 1 event (good/bad/ugly) in life factored into your decision to save lives and become an EMT?
Knowing First aid has always been in my family, so I was taught early before becoming an EMT. It was always important to know I had the potential to save a life. Becoming an EMT has just given me more tools to work with.

Did you volunteer / intern as an EMT before you made it your career?
I have been a volunteer for over 30 years. EMS is an unpaid career for me. I do it to give back to the community.

Tell me the best way to find an EMT job?
You need to work hard and do your leg-work, every ambulance company is different. You need to be confident.

What is your Level of Certification? EMT/Paramedic/Lab Instructor/Lead Instructor
I am an EMT and a Senior Instructor (CIC). I also hold a National Registry EMT certificate.

How challenging is it being an EMT?
It's only challenging if you do not put time into your class. Everything is not going to be handed to you on a "Silver Platter". You need to study, practice, and not be afraid to ask questions.

How do you keep sharp in your own skills?
Besides performing my skills on the ambulance, every time I talk to students about a skill, or demonstrate hands on about a skill, I keep sharp.

How is your family life affected – are they supportive of your job?
They always support me; they understand why I do it so maybe they will follow.

What is your most inspirational "save"?
Any save that a person is able to survive is inspirational.

What was your greatest "loss" on the job and how did it affect you?
The greatest loss is that my best friend cannot work with me anymore. He was hurt while working on 9/11 and because of his injuries, and he cannot work. So for a while it was hard to talk to him about EMS but it has been getting better.

How's the comradery on the job with your fellow EMTs?
It's a second family.

What advice can you give others who want to become an EMT?
You need to want it not just for a job but to care that you will make a difference.

Why do you enjoy teaching your students?
I love knowing that I am teaching people who want to make a difference.

How do you encourage others to follow this career path?
I tell them the truth: you are going to have good, bad and ugly days and you need to take it one day at a time. But just think! You will be making a difference to someone.

Words of wisdom for our students / future-EMT's?
Practice, Practice, Practice

CPR in the workplace. Why you want to train your employees.

According to the American Time Use Survey, put out by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans spend approximately 8 hours a day working at their jobs. The next largest chunk of time is spent sleeping at approximately 7.8 hours. Most jobs are conducted in an environment with other players, whether they are your office mates, partners, team or group.

A good way to break out of the mold of everyday work activities is to conduct a CPR Training Class at your work environment. Besides being a welcome change of pace, it stimulates thoughts on healthy living and saving lives. Is there a better way to spend a few hours?

Most CPR classes include a discussion on heart healthy living habits vs. unhealthy ones. This is included to emphasize the fact that individual's who have more than one unhealthy habit, have a much higher risk of developing cardiac and vascular damage than people who follow prudent heart living. This information on unhealthy habits has been slow to reach the public because of many years of advertising lies. They claim tobacco, soft drinks, fast food and breakfast cereals (cigarettes, sugar, salt) are part of the American lifestyle and you MUST have it in your homes and consume large quantities of it. They not only convince you to buy it, but your children as well. It has taken years for the government to put restrictions on the advertising and sale of tobacco products. Unfortunately, much too late for my parents, aunts and uncles who were persuaded that smoking was the thing to do in the roaring 20's. (1920's that is) They died long painful deaths from every kind of cancer. We need to, absolutely, learn what can hurt us, how to prevent it, and what to do if it does. All office or corporate workers can easily learn 'hand's only CPR'. Add in choking (the Heimlich Maneuver) and the use of a public access AED and you have a complete CPR Class.

To be able to recognize the warning signs of heart attacks is knowledge worth having for everyone:

1. Uncomfortable pressure, tightness or squeezing in the chest area.
2. Sweating, nausea or shortness of breath.
3. Back pain or pain moving down the arm or up to the jaw.
4. Skin might be pale, cool and wet.

Encourage your manager or boss to arrange a CPR class for your organization. And when the CPR Instructor arrives at your place of work with the manikins, pay attention and ask questions. Don't worry; they will make it interesting and fun. Just wear clothing that will be comfortable when kneeling over a manikin.

After cardiac problems, the second leading cause of death in Americans is stroke. (A clot or bleed in the brain instead of the heart)

We need to know those warning signs also because FAST transport to a stroke center is the only thing that can reverse permanent disability and death. Here are the Stroke (brain attack) warning signs:

1. F =Facial drooping
2. A =Arm weakness
3. S =Speech difficulties
4. T =Time to call 911

The more people that know CPR, AED and the Heimlich maneuver, then the more people we can keep alive until the ambulance arrives. Knowing CPR is knowledge and knowledge is definitely power.

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