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Daria
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DS18's long term plan is to go to school to become a nurse.  He's thinking he might like to volunteer with our local volunteer fire department to become an EMT as an interim step, and a way to see if he's suited for the medical field.  However, I have 2 questions.

 

1) Can you be an EMT if you don't have a driver's license?

 

and 

 

2) How often do EMT's get called to house fires, or other situations with a lot of smoke?  He's got asthma, and smoke is a trigger for him, although it's well controlled and he's slow to react.  

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I'm sure other posters will have more info for you on EMTs. I'm a nurse and have worked in many different settings. I don't think being an EMT would necessarily tell you if you are suited for the medical field. There are so many settings that are very different from emergency medicine. Good luck to your ds.

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You can become an EMT without a driver's license. Getting a job as an EMT without a driver's license is going to be an issue. From where I live the first job an EMT might get is medical transport and then move up from there. Where I am, you need to be a paramedic to get an ambulance job. Also where I am an EMT would not often be near fire, but I'm not sure about your son's situation since he would be volunteering with a fire department it might be different.

 

 

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20 year medic here.

 

1) Functionally, probably not. Sitting for the state/national exam isn't the issue. Depending on how the VFD is organized/run he may have to take his turn driving the squad or, if his department also transports patients in an ambulance, drive the ambulance. He probably won't drive the fire truck right off as "driver" is actually a specific position.

 

2) Again, this may depend on how the VFD is run. Most EMTs in volunteer FDs are both medical and fire certified due to lack of manpower. As an EMT only, he'll certainly be called out to fires in order to treat any patients and provide medical monitoring and rehab to the firefighters. Generally speaking patients are brought to the medical people and rehab is established upwind and away from the active fire scene.

 

Both of the above answers are based on how the smaller VFDs are organized in the area where I work. These things tend to be state/area specific, though, so he should get info from the organization itself.

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20 year medic here.

 

1) Functionally, probably not. Sitting for the state/national exam isn't the issue. Depending on how the VFD is organized/run he may have to take his turn driving the squad or, if his department also transports patients in an ambulance, drive the ambulance. He probably won't drive the fire truck right off as "driver" is actually a specific position.

 

2) Again, this may depend on how the VFD is run. Most EMTs in volunteer FDs are both medical and fire certified due to lack of manpower. As an EMT only, he'll certainly be called out to fires in order to treat any patients and provide medical monitoring and rehab to the firefighters. Generally speaking patients are brought to the medical people and rehab is established upwind and away from the active fire scene.

 

Both of the above answers are based on how the smaller VFDs are organized in the area where I work. These things tend to be state/area specific, though, so he should get info from the organization itself.

 

bolding is mine.

 

As, brehon said he really needs to check with the specific FD he wants to volunteer with. In ours, driver is not a specific position. Also, I don't know that any of our FF are also EMTs. That's because there is a dedicated, full-time ambulance station in town. Therefore, they will always, always beat the FF to a scene (as the FF have to head to the fire station, suit up, etc...). So our FF generally don't do EMT training, unless they want to.

 

To my knowledge, other local depts. are the same.

 

 

 

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It probably really depends on how your local VFD is structured.

 

My brother has been a volunteer fireman and EMT for about 35-40 years. He started as a junior fireman when he was 16, became a regular volunteer fireman at 18 and then eventually became an EMT (while working full time as a mechanical engineer). He's also,served as the chief of our VFD for many years.

 

Things have changed over the years. Years ago everything totally depended on the volunteers. Now there is a paid ambulance crew staffed with a paramedic stationed at the fire department 24/7 and one paid fireman there all the time. They still rely on the volunteers. Without a driver's license and a vehicle a volunteer would have no way of responding to calls unless he/she just happened to be hanging around the fire department when a call came in and rode on one of the trucks. Most volunteers here respond to calls in their own vehicles and they often beat the fire trucks and ambulance to the scene, so the EMTs are frequently the first medical personnel on the scene (thus they're relied on as much or more than the paramedic on the ambulance). The EMTs carry their own kit of medical supplies in their own vehicle. Most of the volunteer EMTs are also trained as firemen and serve both rolls as needed. If there was someone who needed medical attention that would be the priority for an EMT versus fire control. Keep in mind that many calls aren't fire related. More are wrecks and sick calls.

 

I'm positive your VFD would be happy to talk with your DS. Getting enough volunteers has been a challenge for many VFDs in recent years.

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Where I am, our volunteer fire department doesn't "staff" EMTs, but EMTs are often called to the same incidents as the fire department, which includes a LOT of traffic accidents, plus search and rescues, carbon monoxide alarms, and various other calls.  The fire department often gets called out to assist EMTs with lifting larger patients, and they all work together to get medevacs landed and loaded.  So I would expect an EMT to have a lot more to do than attend active fires.

 

Like Paws4Me points out, there's no real way to get to the station without a driver's license.  My daughters HATE when there's a call and dh isn't home, because I can't leave my younger kids to dash out the door, and I can't use emergency lights to get to the station in a timely manner.  Members aren't allowed to respond direct here, unless they get special permission (which my teenagers aren't likely to get.)  Our firehouse isn't manned (or womanned!) at all.

 

After being on so many accident calls, my daughters aren't keen on getting their licenses... except for the ability to drive to the station.

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If you live near a bigger metro area with a bigger hospital, he could see if they need patient transporters.  It is a great job for those looking to get into the medical field.  They transport patients all over the hospital for various tests, surgery, recovery, therapy, etc.  That means they get to meet people in all different areas of medicine, get interactions with patients and their families (often very brief though), and get lots of exercise.

Last time my daughter was in for surgery we had a great transporter that said he was doing this job while in school to become an radiologist.  He said the hospital helps with his tuition and he has made awesome contacts within the hospital and even some preliminary job offers.

This is a job I think I would love if we were closer to the big hospital and I could handle a job with regular hours (parenting 3 special needs kids and now helping a MIL with pancreatic cancer I need a very flexible job)

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EMT with a volunteer fire department isn't going to show him much in the way of nursing.(It is how I started, though, and became interested in a medical career). Also, a lot of volunteer fire departments are no longer running ems calls; you would have to check with your local VFD. The fire department my husband is part of still does, but just one county over its half and half--some do and some don't. An ambulance isn't going to hire him or let him volunteer without a driver's license, and if he is first response with a fire department it will be hard to make calls(unless he has someone willing to drop everything and run him to the station when an ems call comes out). Smoke bothers me too, but as a paramedic I rarely do fire scene standbys anymore.

 

EMS at any level requires some sort of driving. That said, some of our local hospitals hire EMTs to work in the emergency room. That would be a good insight into nursing if your local ERs do the same. You can call and ask. I would think he might be better off doing a CNA if he isn't planning on getting a drivers license soon.

Edited by MedicMom
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I agree with the idea of him becoming a CNA, not only would it expose him to nurses and other allied health workers, but it would teach him to do many of the patient care tasks nurses are required to do, like turning and bathing patients. Additionally, if he was working for a hospital as an aide while he was in nursing school he might have a leg up on getting a job as a student nurse or RN. My hospital always preferred to hire from within whenever possible.

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Thanks everyone,

 

To clarify a few things.  We live in a pretty urban area.  Technically a suburb, but a pretty dense, walkable suburb with good public transportation.  

 

The station is about 2 blocks from our apartment, so he wouldn't have trouble getting there, and the crew that's on duty each night spends the night there, so he wouldn't be driving to the scene, he'd be riding in the ambulance from the station.  I know that they have EMT's that are just EMTs, as well as EMT/Firefighters, and volunteers who are just Firefighters.  So, the question is just whether they'd accept a candidate who couldn't drive the ambulance, because getting to and from the station wouldn't be an issue. 

 

They do accept 16  year olds as "junior members", and around here 16 year olds can't get a license, so I know they have some members who don't drive, but I'm not sure if they'd let an 18 year old join under those rules.

 

There is another volunteer crew, that's a little further away and is just EMT's and paramedics.  I assume they're less likely to be called to fires?  If so, he could look there too?

 

CNA or transporter is a great idea, but around here you need a HS diploma to enter a CNA program, and he's got another year.  We haven't seen a transporter ad that doesn't require a CNA.  

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There is another volunteer crew, that's a little further away and is just EMT's and paramedics.  I assume they're less likely to be called to fires?  If so, he could look there too?

 

 

 

Given your area's set up, maybe it's less likely because the fire department has their own EMTs.  But an active fire always has to have EMS on site to tend to the firefighters even if there aren't any victims.

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Given your area's set up, maybe it's less likely because the fire department has their own EMTs.  But an active fire always has to have EMS on site to tend to the firefighters even if there aren't any victims.

 

So, our county's paid firefighters all have EMT's and ambulances stationed there.  I think that in the area that the other rescue squad covers, the first responding firefighters would all be paid county employees, and they'd come with their own, and the volunteers in the ambulance squad would be going to ambulance only emergencies? 

 

But, if there's a big disaster, then they'd be calling on each other.  

 

I admit that I am totally confused by the mix of volunteer and paid.  On top of that, the "volunteer" companies also have paid EMT's and paramedics.  

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Hmmm...it seems that your area is in transition from volunteer to paid. The first big thing I noticed is the distance from the station. Two blocks isn't that far away; however, there are time standards that even volunteer FFs and medical personnel try to meet. I assume he would stay at the station during his shift? If not, be aware that even volunteer units try to adhere to certain time standards (shoot time [time from dispatch to response] & response time are two big ones. I happen to think they're mostly bunk due to every meta study out there, but that's a different issue.) If your ds isn't staying at the station where there is a crew already present, they may not be willing/able to wait for him.

 

The second big thing that I notice is that the ambulance has both EMTs and paramedics. In the event the patient requires anything other than BLS care (basic life support - generally no IVs, no ECG monitoring, no or only basic medications, etc), he will be expected to take his turn driving the ambulance to the hospital as the medic will be in the back with the patient.

 

Generally speaking each EMS unit will respond to a defined area unless they are providing back-up coverage or your area participates in something like FATPOT where the closest appropriate unit is sent on a call regardless of system/district. This very well might include responding to fires to provide med monitoring and rehab to the firefighters, especially if the FFs are from his response district.

 

Again, every area is different and he really needs to talk to the department he wants to work for to find out the specific answers to these questions. What I've described is how every single volunteer FD/FRO works in my area. Other areas have great differences.

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Hmmm...it seems that your area is in transition from volunteer to paid. The first big thing I noticed is the distance from the station. Two blocks isn't that far away; however, there are time standards that even volunteer FFs and medical personnel try to meet. I assume he would stay at the station during his shift? If not, be aware that even volunteer units try to adhere to certain time standards (shoot time [time from dispatch to response] & response time are two big ones. I happen to think they're mostly bunk due to every meta study out there, but that's a different issue.) If your ds isn't staying at the station where there is a crew already present, they may not be willing/able to wait for him.

 

The second big thing that I notice is that the ambulance has both EMTs and paramedics. In the event the patient requires anything other than BLS care (basic life support - generally no IVs, no ECG monitoring, no or only basic medications, etc), he will be expected to take his turn driving the ambulance to the hospital as the medic will be in the back with the patient.

 

Generally speaking each EMS unit will respond to a defined area unless they are providing back-up coverage or your area participates in something like FATPOT where the closest appropriate unit is sent on a call regardless of system/district. This very well might include responding to fires to provide med monitoring and rehab to the firefighters, especially if the FFs are from his response district.

 

Again, every area is different and he really needs to talk to the department he wants to work for to find out the specific answers to these questions. What I've described is how every single volunteer FD/FRO works in my area. Other areas have great differences.

 

As far as the bolded, it's the been the same way since I was a kid, a mix of paid and volunteer.   It may have been all volunteer at some time, but not in the past 40 years, so I don't think it's transitioning.  

 

Yes, he'd be sleeping at the station.  He'd walk there before his shift, stay there through the night and walk home in the a.m..  So, not owning a car is definitely not an issue.  Which is good because that's not in the budget.

 

I know for sure that the county's paid firefighters, and the other rescue squad have ALS units with paramedics and more equipment, and BLS units, with just EMT's.  I assume this one is the same? 

 

It never occurred to me that ambulances were being driven around our streets at high speeds by kids who've had their license a year. 

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There are myriad ways an EMS system can be set up, for example: (1) tiered - where some ambulances are staffed with two EMTs or an EMT & AEMT and other ambulances are staffed with paramedics (what type of ambulance is sent on a call is dependent on the dispatch info); (2) some combination of EMT/AEMT with a medic; (3) dual paramedic - this is the model my system uses; (4) various other random combinations.

 

If an EMT is hired for EMS response, almost certainly they will be expected to drive emergent to calls and/or the hospital if the situation warrants it. Many systems, including mine, employ priority dispatching whereby the response to a scene is either emergent (lights & sirens {RLS}) or non-emergent (no lights or sirens) depending on the information the call-taker gets from the person calling 911. Driving emergent doesn't always mean at a high rate of speed. In fact, in urban and densely populated suburban areas, I dare say there could be a significant amount of time that the ambulance is NOT going fast even with RLS on. I would hope that the EMS system would train volunteers & employees how to safely drive emergent and what the various statutes and laws are regarding driving with RLS. [ETA: These are very state and even city specific.] There have been many times where I've driven emergent to a call or hospital and really never got much above 35-40 mph due to traffic.

Edited by brehon
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Daria....is there a specific reason why he doesn't have a drivers license or isn't working towards getting one?

 

I know in our area in some instances drivers are as young as 16 for emergency response due to staffing and the need for more experienced ems workers to be doing patient care. In some critical situations both EMS workers are in the back while a volunteer firefighter drives the ambulance to the hospital.

 

They do get extra training for this type of driving but yes, I would expect any 18 year old in EMS services in our area to have a drivers license and be a competent driver.

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He doesn't have a license because I don't drive because of a vision quirk, so our family doesn't own a car, and without an adult to practice with the process gets very expensive.

 

Now that he's over 18, it's a little more reasonable, but he's been out of town a fair amount of the time that he's been over 18.

 

With our graduated license, if he started tomorrow, I think it would be a year before he could drive an ambulance at night, although I could be wrong.

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He doesn't have a license because I don't drive because of a vision quirk, so our family doesn't own a car, and without an adult to practice with the process gets very expensive.

 

Now that he's over 18, it's a little more reasonable, but he's been out of town a fair amount of the time that he's been over 18.

 

With our graduated license, if he started tomorrow, I think it would be a year before he could drive an ambulance at night, although I could be wrong.

 

Maybe you can find a friend who will teach him to drive.

Once you're over 18yo in KY, the graduated license requirement disappears.

He would need to have transportation to any college program or job that he pursued.

 

And I agree with the others that the path to nursing is via CNA, not EMT.

I would encourage him to enter the nursing program--he can always drop out if it's not a good fit . . . but the pre-requisites can take a semester or two to complete.

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Maybe you can find a friend who will teach him to drive.

Once you're over 18yo in KY, the graduated license requirement disappears.

He would need to have transportation to any college program or job that he pursued.

 

And I agree with the others that the path to nursing is via CNA, not EMT.

I would encourage him to enter the nursing program--he can always drop out if it's not a good fit . . . but the pre-requisites can take a semester or two to complete.

 

Where we live it's really easy to have a job or career, or go to college without a car.  I haven't had a car for the majority of my adulthood, and it hasn't slowed me down. Our local community college, where he takes classes is a quick bike ride or a straight shot on the public bus.  The 4 year college he's hoping to go to in right on the subway and doesn't allow underclassmen to have a car on campus.  Many people in my area don't have cars, and even if he gets a license he won't have the money to pay for a car for a long time.  Insurance and parking would be major expenses.

 

Our graduated license requirements don't disappear altogether, although they are less stringent over 18, but the supervising driver needs to be over 21.  I don't think he has any friends who are both over 21 and own a car.  The majority of his friends wouldn't meet either requirement.

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I'm not quite sure how insurance works for EMS and fire departments, but they may not even be able to hire him without a license for liability reasons. What if he got into a situation where he was the only one available to drive, but could not transport because he couldn't drive?

 

Would he have any interest in dispatching?

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I'm not quite sure how insurance works for EMS and fire departments, but they may not even be able to hire him without a license for liability reasons. What if he got into a situation where he was the only one available to drive, but could not transport because he couldn't drive?

 

Would he have any interest in dispatching?

I'm not aware of any place that would hire an EMT without a driver's license. If the call requires advanced life support that an EMT can't provide, they have to drive the ambulance while the ALS tech treats the patient.

 

I actually worked in ems without driving for about eighteen months until I got my corneal transplant. But I had been a paramedic for years prior to stopping driving, and as a medic I was able to take all the calls. If I had been an EMT I would not have been able to work.

 

I think if he's interested in it, you should call the fire department and ask. They may allow him to ride as a third on the ambulance or to do a ride along. He's also likely to make friends with some of the older firemen who would be happy to teach him to drive and help him get his driver's license. I know many nurses in the ER who started as EMTs and kept their certifications up, and I think it is valuable if he has any interest in emergency nursing. It would also help him get a flight nurse job down the road if that's something he's interested in.

Edited by MedicMom
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It really sounds like a CNA is a better option for him. Closer to actual nursing and would not require a drivers license.

 

CNA, at least at our local CC, is not an option until he finishes high school.  I had assumed that was a CNA requirement, but maybe it's our CC, and he could do it somewhere else?

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CNA, at least at our local CC, is not an option until he finishes high school. I had assumed that was a CNA requirement, but maybe it's our CC, and he could do it somewhere else?

Call local nursing homes and ask where they send their employees for certification. In our area quite a few highschool seniors take the classes and work their senior year of highschool.

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If you live near a bigger metro area with a bigger hospital, he could see if they need patient transporters.  It is a great job for those looking to get into the medical field.  They transport patients all over the hospital for various tests, surgery, recovery, therapy, etc.  That means they get to meet people in all different areas of medicine, get interactions with patients and their families (often very brief though), and get lots of exercise.

 

Last time my daughter was in for surgery we had a great transporter that said he was doing this job while in school to become an radiologist.  He said the hospital helps with his tuition and he has made awesome contacts within the hospital and even some preliminary job offers.

 

This is a job I think I would love if we were closer to the big hospital and I could handle a job with regular hours (parenting 3 special needs kids and now helping a MIL with pancreatic cancer I need a very flexible job)

The transporters at our hospital were so nice!  Since I was in for a few days and was being transported to and from the NICU, I had the same transporter once or twice, so they remembered me.  I think it's also the transport who takes pumped milk to the NICU for mamas who are recovering from childbirth.  I feel like being a transporter would let you just be a friendly face to a lot of people and handle a lot of responsibility but without a lot of difficulty.

 

Another possible thing he could try is volunteering at a hospital.  I inquired about being a NICU cuddler, but they have gift shop workers, hospitality cart workers, child life volunteers, and other things.  Lots of ways to learn more about whether he can handle the medical field.

 

As for EMTing, I don't know for sure, but I have a friend who is an EMT (and a nurse).  She is petite, and while she's trained as a firefighter, she doesn't fight fires because she's not able to drag a partner out if her partner is a big dude with all his gear.  So she does other things.  If asthma is an issue, maybe there are still things he can do regarding firefighting or being an EMT.

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DS18's long term plan is to go to school to become a nurse.  He's thinking he might like to volunteer with our local volunteer fire department to become an EMT as an interim step, and a way to see if he's suited for the medical field.  However, I have 2 questions.

 

1) Can you be an EMT if you don't have a driver's license?

 

and 

 

2) How often do EMT's get called to house fires, or other situations with a lot of smoke?  He's got asthma, and smoke is a trigger for him, although it's well controlled and he's slow to react.  

 

Some of this will depend on how your fire department does things and the conditions in your area.  In our department most incoming volunteers (or maybe even all) are trained as both firefighters and EMTs, but the vast majority of calls are medical (we have very few fires).  All volunteers must have a driver's license.  (Is there any reason he can't get one?)

 

There have been several volunteers with our department over the years who have gone into nursing or other medical specialties.  Another things that several have ended up doing is becoming paramedics.

 

He should contact the volunteer coordinator at the local department to discuss his concerns.  

Edited by EKS
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My son is an EMT. He dies have to drive the ambulance. He technically works for the hospital so not a VFD situation. He has been to few fires. Sadly oD's and car wrecks are the norm :-(. He is currently getting his MPA after deciding not to become a paramedic. The physical demands of the job are real.

 

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Some of this will depend on how your fire department does things and the conditions in your area.  In our department most incoming volunteers (or maybe even all) are trained as both firefighters and EMTs, but the vast majority of calls are medical (we have very few fires).  All volunteers must have a driver's license.  (Is there any reason he can't get one?)

 

There have been several volunteers with our department over the years who have gone into nursing or other medical specialties.  Another things that several have ended up doing is becoming paramedics.

 

He should contact the volunteer coordinator at the local department to discuss his concerns.  

 

To get a license in our state he'd need to:

 

1) Attend Driver's Ed ($300)

 

2) Hold a learner's permit for 9 months

 

3) Have 60 hours of supervision by a driver over the age of 21.  Asking someone to supervise your new driver, and to allow their car to be used, isn't really realistic.  So, we'd need to pay for this.  Our local driver's schools charge $45 an hour.

 

4) Then hold a provisional license for 6 months.  A provisional license doesn't let you drive unrelated minors, so I'm assuming you can't be an ambulance driver with one, since you never know when you could get a minor passenger.

 

So it would take 15 months and thousands of dollars that we don't have.  

 

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It doesn't seem strange that a job that takes place partly in a vehicle and uses a vehicle to transport patients would require driving.  Obviously the actual FD there will know more about your particular area than people on the internet but it doesn't seem like a strange requirement. 

 

He still has choices:  a different path to nursing, starting learning to drive now or saving up money for driving lessons etc.  My Ds20 saved money for a couple of years for a car, insurance, driver's fees (I taught him to actually drive so he didn't have to pay the $500 for driving school but there were still mandatory tests that cost money, registration etc.  Driving is expensive.  It was a natural thing for us to have him save up for it since we couldn't afford to pay for it for him. 

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Daria, thinking more about this - do the ERs in your area hire EMTs as ER techs? MedicMom and, I believe, another poster mentioned this. This may be the best way for your son to get some practical experience in medicine that is more related to the hospital side of things, even if he's not interested in emergency medicine. This would completely eliminate the driving question, assuming he can get to the hospitals without a car.

 

Many paramedic students in my area work as ER techs while attending paramedic school (i.e., they're already EMTs).

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It doesn't seem strange that a job that takes place partly in a vehicle and uses a vehicle to transport patients would require driving.  Obviously the actual FD there will know more about your particular area than people on the internet but it doesn't seem like a strange requirement. 

 

He still has choices:  a different path to nursing, starting learning to drive now or saving up money for driving lessons etc.  My Ds20 saved money for a couple of years for a car, insurance, driver's fees (I taught him to actually drive so he didn't have to pay the $500 for driving school but there were still mandatory tests that cost money, registration etc.  Driving is expensive.  It was a natural thing for us to have him save up for it since we couldn't afford to pay for it for him. 

 

I haven't said it's strange, I guess I thought that driving the ambulance was a specialized thing.   So, just like people trained to be EMT's, I thought people would train to be ambulance drivers.  Part of this is that I assumed drivers had CDL's.  

 

Part of this assumption came from the fact that our local FD accepts 16 year old volunteers/EMT candidates, and 16 year olds can't drive here. 

 

He's reached out to the FD. We'll see what they say.

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To get a license in our state he'd need to:

 

1) Attend Driver's Ed ($300)

 

2) Hold a learner's permit for 9 months

 

3) Have 60 hours of supervision by a driver over the age of 21. Asking someone to supervise your new driver, and to allow their car to be used, isn't really realistic. So, we'd need to pay for this. Our local driver's schools charge $45 an hour.

 

4) Then hold a provisional license for 6 months. A provisional license doesn't let you drive unrelated minors, so I'm assuming you can't be an ambulance driver with one, since you never know when you could get a minor passenger.

 

So it would take 15 months and thousands of dollars that we don't have.

 

Sorry, I see now that you answered the why can't he get his license before I posted.

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I haven't said it's strange, I guess I thought that driving the ambulance was a specialized thing. So, just like people trained to be EMT's, I thought people would train to be ambulance drivers. Part of this is that I assumed drivers had CDL's.

 

Part of this assumption came from the fact that our local FD accepts 16 year old volunteers/EMT candidates, and 16 year olds can't drive here.

 

He's reached out to the FD. We'll see what they say.

In most places, the ambulance drivers *are* the EMS personnel whether EMTs or paramedics. Most transporting EMS systems run a two-man crew and you switch off after each call.

 

My system does not require CDLs because of the type of ambulances we use (the stereotypical box on a pick-up chassis). Some types of ambulances might require the personnel to hold a CDL. It just varies.

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