SCC Student Success – EMT Alumna

Nearly a decade after Megan Morris earned her Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification from Stanly Community College (SCC), she has never regretted remaining in the field. “I guess you could say that becoming an EMT in my family was a tradition; my mom and dad were both EMTs,” explained Megan, a senior paramedic with Stanly County Emergency Medical Services (EMS). “I never really considered a career in EMS before high school. I always wanted to be a large animal veterinarian.”

When Megan started the EMS program she was only 18 years old. “I chose SCC because it was close to home and I had friends that went there, too.”

Megan thanks her dad for introducing her into the EMS field. “My dad was an EMT himself and volunteered with the local fire department. Sometimes he would let me ride with him when he responded to emergency calls. I can remember growing up thinking I wanted to help people just like my dad did; he inspired me.”

EMTs and paramedics are truly devoted to their labor, evident by their pay scale, one of the lowest compared to other healthcare and public safety professions, and the job can be dangerous, too. According to the US National Library of Medicine, “Work-related injury and fatality rates among US paramedics and EMTs are higher than the national average for all occupations.”

From its beginnings, the establishment of EMS in the United States has been a male-dominated occupation. “The job in itself is stressful sometimes, but I do love it. I love helping others and I have developed a second family with my coworkers. I spend a third of my life at work, working 24 hours on and 48 hours off. I can’t see myself doing anything else,” she explained. But the hours aren’t the biggest challenge that she faces.

“The hardest thing for a new paramedic or someone new to the EMS field to deal with is probably learning how to cope with a death and find a healthy way to deal with your emotions,” she said.

Megan is grateful to be employed with an agency where she is able to work with so many talented people. “At the end of the day, we are all working towards the common goal of providing the best possible treatment during an emergency situation.”

Megan admits that making a positive difference in someone’s life is one of the most gratifying aspects of being a paramedic. “Saving a life—that is truly an amazing feeling,” she said. “I enjoy training new students and being able to see them graduate and be successful in their careers, it’s a satisfying feeling.”

The future demand for EMT and paramedic services will increase radically due to the number of heart-attacks or strokes with the aging population. The Bureau of Labor Statistics points out, “Employment of EMTs and paramedics is projected to grow 23 percent from 2012 to 2022. Growth in the middle-aged and elderly population will lead to an increase in the number of age-related health emergencies, such as heart attacks or strokes. This, in turn, will create greater demand for EMTs and paramedic services.”

Megan tells us that getting her education at SCC is one of the best things she has done. “Just set your mind to succeed and be determined to see yourself through. Some days it will be tough, but it will be worth it in the long run. Whatever you learn, teach someone else, keep paying it forward!”

Megan Morris

Megan Morris graduated from Stanly Community College’s EMS program, earning her EMT certification in 2005 and her Paramedic certification in 2008. She now works full-time for Stanly County EMS as a Paramedic and is third in command on her shift. Megan also works part-time as an EMS instructor at SCC.

The specific responsibilities of EMTs and paramedics depend on whether they are an EMT or EMT-Basic, Advanced EMT, or paramedic; and the state they work in. The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) provides national certification of EMTs and paramedics at three levels: EMT/Basic, Advanced EMT or EMT-Intermediate, and Paramedic. Some states, however, have their own certification programs and use different titles.

An EMT, also known as an EMT-Basic, cares for patients at the scene of an incident and while taking patients by ambulance to a hospital. An EMT-Basic has the skills to assess a patient's condition and to manage respiratory, cardiac, and trauma emergencies.

An Advanced EMT, also known as an EMT-Intermediate, has completed the requirements for the EMT level, as well as instruction in more advanced medical procedures, such as administering intravenous fluids and some medications.

Paramedics provide more extensive prehospital care than do EMTs. In addition to being able to carry out the tasks of EMTs, paramedics can give medications orally and intravenously, interpret electrocardiograms (EKGs)—used to monitor heart function—and use other monitors and complex equipment. The specific tasks or procedures EMTs and paramedics are allowed to perform at any level vary by state.

Resource: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, EMTs and Paramedics, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/emts-and-paramedics.htm (visited March 11, 2015).