DeltaYou: EMTs Serve the Community

by Miranda Reynolds
Delta Digital News Service

Andrea Yates

Angela Yates at work. Yates first became interested in becoming an EMT while working in Wynne. Photo courtesy of Angela Yates.

AUGUSTA, Arkansas – When medical emergencies arise in rural areas, Emergency Medical Technicians are responding to the life-threatening calls.

EMTs certifications depend on their level of education. A Basic EMT requires the least amount of schooling, whereas Intermediate EMT and a Paramedic EMT require more. Angela Yates, a Basic EMT,  received her certification at East Arkansas Community College, located in Forrest City. Yates said her certification prepared her for real-life emergencies.

“I think for the most part it did. But — also because I’m older than most people who enter this field — I did it when I was already turning 40 and most people are doing this in their 20s,” Yates said. “I had more life experience behind me already.”

Yates said paramedics and EMTs working in the Wynne hospital influenced her with their exciting stories of helping people. Yates said she believes being a woman is not a challenge in her line of work.

Yates said within rural areas, emergency airlift systems are something to consider.

“Because of my standpoint in EMS, I know it’s important to have (an emergency airlift system),” Yates said. “Being rural, we have different helicopter services available, and not everybody will accept the other’s insurance or the other’s coverage. It’s not feasible to have a membership with every service, but you never know what service you are going to get.”

Emergency Medical Technicians are vital to all communities because of their role in the emergency response chain. Yates said a patient’s medical insurance does not impact the work she does. Members of Pafford Emergency Medical Service provide emergency care while the hospital collects information; insurance comes after that.

The duties of an EMT vary among its members. Yates explained her duties to provide a full understanding of her everyday tasks.

Recertification for all EMTs is inevitable. As a Pafford EMS employee, Yates’ re-certification can be completed online by entering in her numbers, information and amount of hours taken. As far as original certification goes, members of Pafford EMS must meet in hands-on classes or groups.

Yates said prevention of accidents in emergency vehicles is important to the certification process. During an emergency that requires lights and horns to be activated, Yates is only allowed to drive 10 miles per hour over the speed limit.

Jay Atkins, police officer for Augusta and McCrory, said drivers on the highway do not pull over when meeting oncoming traffic and even drive close behind vehicles in pursuit of an emergency.

Yates said she built an endurance for coping with traumatizing calls after six years in the field. Yates’ husband, in his 25th year in the EMT field, helps her cope. Yates said having someone to confide in and someone who can relate to what she goes through is helpful.

Atkins said he finds other methods of coping.

“Separate myself from that call or if it’s ending my day … when I’m off, I’m off. I do not have a radio on, I don’t associate with this place,” Atkins said.