By Brandi Makuski
Plover’s paramedic force just became a little bit stronger.
Bobby Sullivan, 22, learned this week he’d finally passed his paramedic test — a feat he’s been working toward for years, he said.
“You can’t have a day job when you’re training to be a paramedic,” Sullivan said during an interview at the Plover Fire Department. “Training is your day job, really.”
Sullivan’s licensure now marks the department’s fifth among its current volunteer firefighters, which is a staff of 52-strong. Fire Chief Mark Deaver said the department has 20 EMTs, who are trained in basic and advanced medical knowledge over the course of 180 hours of classes and field work. But the paramedic is far more experienced, he said, requiring over 1,000 hours of class instruction, field work, ambulance ride-alongs and time shadowing professionals in various fields of medicine four full days a week over the course of one school year.
The course culminates in a two-and-a-half hour computerized test, a practical test to showcase skill set and a final table top interview with a medical doctor.
“I just learned yesterday that I passed,” Sullivan said on Thursday. “I was so happy, it’s something I wanted for a really long time.”
Michael Koehler, 21, who has been with the Plover FD for the past year, plans to become the department’s sixth licensed paramedic.
“I plan to have everything done, hopefully, by the end of May,” Koehler said, adding he’s still got to finish some of the requirements for ride-alongs and clinic hours. “Then I have to pass my class final, and after that I have to pass my National Registry exam; there’s a final interview you do with a doctor. It’s a scenario interview, from the start of the scene until the end of it.”
“Yeah, and it’s not nerve-wracking at all,” said Sullivan jokingly. “From that one scenario he decides if you’re good to go or not.”
Both Sullivan and Koehler said they plan to stay with PFD as long as possible, and are working towards completion of their respective associates degrees to broaden their chances to full-time employment somewhere local, while remaining a part of Plover’s volunteer department.
The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians exam is the final requirement of becoming a paramedic, and transfers between states. Paramedics are required to renew their state license every two years, Deaver said.
“We’re all CPR- and AED-trained, and basic first aid,” Deaver said. But a lot of our people are getting crossed trained.”
Sullivan, who joined the PFD right out of high school, is just the most recent to earn the paramedic distinction. Firefighters/ETMs Jake Smiley, Kyle Harnish and Ethan Przybylski also recently earned their license, and Robin Falk recently completed her EMT training. All are still with the PFD.
“We’ve had a lot of guys start here and move on to full-time positions somewhere else,” Deaver said. “It’s sad to see them go but it makes us very proud to have had them start with us, to be a part of that.”
“I have to say also, whenever I was studying, I had so much help,” Sullivan said. “I had a lot of encouragement and support from guys in other departments, including Stevens Point. It’s like one big family.”