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A New Dream, A Legacy of Lifesaving

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Elyzabeth Martinez
Life EMS
Elyzabeth Martinez

Elyzabeth Martinez has completed the Kent Career Tech Center EMT Program and is now a Life EMS Ambulance Responder

Before COVID, Elyzabeth Martinez didn’t really know what she wanted to do after high school, but when the pandemic raged, the need for first responders became very clear. Building on a family legacy of service, Elyzabeth found an academic connection to make her new found dream of giving back come true.

Host Nate Gimby spoke with Elyzabeth Martinez and EMT instructor at Kent Career Tech Center Gabe Hill.

Full Transcript of interview:


>> Welcome to the Your Dream is Our Dream podcast where we celebrate student success one dream at a time. This program is made possible by Kent ISD in partnership with WGVU. I’m Nate Gimby. And I have with me today, Elizabeth Martinez, who recently completed the Emergency Medical Technician, or EMT program, at Kent Career Tech Center, along with Gabe Hill who is an instructor for the Tech Center’s EMT program and a paramedic with Life EMS Ambulance. Thanks so much for joining me today in studio.

Thank you.

Elyzabeth, we're glad to have you here to share what’s becoming your dream career with us today, which started with a connection between school and Life EMS. Can you tell us about the program you completed at the Tech Center and where it's taken you so far?

>> Yes, the program at the Tech Center went the length of the school year. I started out at the beginning of the school year, wasn't really sure if this was the career that I wanted, and then I started the program figured, it's a really great opportunity. I couldn't pass it up. It’s given me a chance to see whether or not this was the career I wanted. I kind of just fell in love with it from there…and now, working like crazy, but I love it.

>> So the Tech Center program kind of gave you an opportunity to dip your toe in and see if it was right for you.

Exactly. Yes.

And what’s a typical day at the Tech Center look like for you?

>> Yeah, so we showed up really early in the morning and then we would start out with a couple hours of a lecture and then we would go into our hands-on skills and practicing our skills from there.

What kind of skills were you practicing hands-on?

>> So many different skills, anything from practicing bleeding control to CPR, breathing for patients, putting an airway in for a patients so we can better breath for them. Everything in between.

>> Well, Gabe, over to you. Elizabeth is continuing her learning on the job, which is a really unique aspect of this program. I understand the EMT program at the Tech Center started pretty recently. Could you tell us about the success it's had so far for students like Elyzabeth?

Our program at KCTC started about 2 years ago. I believe Elyzabeth’s class was the first one to have it there. And we've just seen a tremendous amount of success. So multiple people from her 2021 class have passed the National Registry Exam and gotten their Michigan EMT licenses. And this year, the class and just graduated, so far we've had 3 people test. We've had two pass and one fail. So we're looking pretty good on those numbers. They have a total of 3, 3, attempts to take it.

And Elyzabeth, you know, we've talked a little bit about how you got your chance through school, to get that connection with the EMT program, kind of get your toe in the water. But I understand you also have family connection to serving your community. What can you tell us about who may have influenced your career path?

>> Sure. So my dad is a captain with the Grand Rapids Fire Department. My grandpa, his father, is a retired fire investigator as well as some family members that are law enforcement out of state. So I kind of just felt like, natural. I was actually curious. I guess I should say, to kind of go and be able to I see the other side, I think, because nobody really has stories from working on an ambulance, so I thought, I might as well be the first one.

>> How about your instructors at school. How did they guide you toward the path you’re on now at Life EMS?

>> Yeah, my instructors were very encouraging, helped to open up so many different opportunities for us. Whether encouraging us to go ahead and do our ride-alongs and make sure that we had a good time. On our ride-alongs, really just making sure that we are actually enjoying the career before we went all in.

>> Gabe, in addition to Elizabeth, you kind of talked about some other successes you've seen in the program. That must make you really proud as an instructor.

How has it impacted your life and the dreams you have yourself in your students? I mean, it's definitely, like, seeing how excited all the students are for this It’s definitely given me, like, a breath of fresh air right from doing this for about 4 years. It's really cool to see all these young students getting super excited about getting into EMS. You know, saving people's lives, helping people. That’s just super cool, super refreshing to see. And I understand that you two are kind of co-workers, right, at Life EMS now?

Tell us, what is it like to be, you know, working as the EMT who is also a teacher.

It could be rough sometimes, not gonna lie, being a teacher and then working part-time in the ambulance. It's a lot. It's a lot of time and effort. You know, we've spent so many years of dedication of learning all the skills. You know, I've had enough time on the road where I feel like I a can successfully teach an EMT class. You know. So that's just kind of way I’ve kind of transitioned from working on the ambulance to kind of transitioning into the teaching side of it. So, tell me, as a teacher and a working professional in this field, what do you feel that educators can learn when they ask students about your their dreams. Why is it important to ask?

I mean, we can learn so many different things. You know, the main thing that I I like is, you know, each student learns differently, right? So if I know their dreams and ambitions. I know kind of the right way to kind of steer them. You know, if they want to. Get their EMT and possibly go get their paramedic. I can go in that direction and I can kind of push him. But if they want to get their EMT and go to RN, You can kind of push them in that direction to where they to where they need that direction. Well, that's a good segue because I understand, Elyzabeth, you're also a pursuing that paramedic path. Is that right?

>> Yes, it is. I'm currently doing the paramedic course at Life EMS.

>> So do you see that is your major next step in and what else do you see in your future as part of this career path.

>> Definitely right now we’re set to graduate our paramedic class the beginning of December. So definitely as it's getting close. I think we're all saying we're really excited to be able to graduate. We're also getting kind of nervous because it is a very big step from EMT to paramedic and I definitely see being a paramedic for a very long time. As well as also helping out with teaching some of the classes. I also help out with teaching EMT classes at Life EMS. So it's a really exciting time for me right now.

>> And what is the difference between an EMT and a paramedic?

>> A paramedic would be closer to an RN or to a nurse, an EMT would be closer to a CNA. The big major difference is that I noticed is paramedics they can start IVs, give fluids through IVS, These can give many more medications. As a paramedic you have a lot of different ways of giving those medications whether be it through IV, through an IO which would be like a bone drill basically, endotracheal intubation… renal decompressions. The scope is a lot larger as a paramedic than it is as an EMT

>> Also, kind of a big thing, especially a difference between paramedic and EMT, paramedics have to do 500 clinical hours, including they have to do hours in the ambulance and the ER the Cath lab, the OB and then the OR That is all mixed up with 250 hours and then we have of what's called an internship. That's an additional 250 hours strictly on the ambulance. It's a big clinical difference because EMT - they only have to 36 hours on the ambulance, right? So we have a huge step from there. It sounds like a lot of education and training they would need.

Absolutely. I think the whole paramedic program is over 1000 hours of classroom time alone not including the clinicals. So it sounds like at the Tech Center, a student can kind of get their start and you know, proceed toward that EMT certification. Is that right?

So the KCTC students can actually become associates of Life EMS and they will actually give them a full ride scholarship to paramedic class. So something that I paid almost $13,000 for between EMT and paramedic, they can get it completely for free. That sounds like a huge opportunity for really importance certification. A big thing like why we're doing all the scholarships for these paramedic students is Michigan has over 1000 open positions between paramedics and EMTs. So here at Life EMS we’re trying to do everything we possibly can to try and get those numbers back down, right? That's why it's so important to have these high schools because between we do two sessions. at KCTC and there's close to, I think, there's 45 students between the 2 sessions. So that's potentially 45 licensed EMTs in 8 months. That's super important to get these high school classes up. It's super nice to have all these kids excited. Our students are excited to get the education and get their certification. So it sounds like an important career path that is in high demand.


Elyzabeth, what would you say to other students who may be considering that both the course at the Tech Center. Or other courses like this in this career path?

>> I definitely feel like the Tech Center is an opportunity that had I not had, I wouldn't be here right now. I think it's definitely one of those things where if even if you're just questioning, like do I maybe want to do this or maybe not, You should definitely go for it because you really won't know unless you try it especially with it being such a low cost class that also opens up so many doors.

>> And Elyzabeth, how will you know when you've made your dreams come true.

>> I feel like I’ll know that my dreams have come true once I'm able to kind of sit back, take a breath and look at everything and that I'm really happy with where I am at right now on the EMT front and things like that - I'm definitely able to sit down, look at it and be happy with where I'm at.

>> All right. Well, that is super cool and you guys are both in a very important line of work. Both the teaching and the EMT side of it and the work you do in the in health and education sphere is so important. And I so I just want to thank you for that. Also, thank you for talking with me today.

Yeah, absolutely. And I love having the opportunity to kind of talk about what we do at KCTC and at Life. EMS. Yeah, me too If anyone's interested in becoming an EMT or paramedic, they can visit LifeEMS.com and under the education portion they can see where all of our classes are. And when they start. So if anyone's interested, go to Life EMS.com.

>> Well, thank you so much again for joining us. And most of all for dreaming big. And thanks to everyone listening at home, too. I’m Nate Gimby and the Your Dreams is Our Dream podcast is presented by Kent ISD in partnership with WGVU


If you know a student who dreams big we'd love to hear their story. Submit your idea and hear more dream stories at KentISD.org/YourDream