EMT graduates trained locally

Four Caymanian emergency medical technicians graduated this week after 17 weeks of intensive training.

Ernesto Bodden, aged 39, Nicholas Elliot, 30, Kerry-Ann Robinson, 25, and Selvin Caballero, 29, graduated on Monday before an audience of their colleagues, trainers, families and health officials.

What sets this group of graduates apart from previous new EMTs is that their training took place locally, at a tenth of the cost of overseas training.

“For each student who was sent overseas, it would cost $10,000. This includes tuition, travel, accommodation… and importantly, a loss of family time and value. This [programme] was all achieved locally at a cost of 10 per cent of that cost. That’s significant,” said Emergency Medical Services Manager Stephen Duval.

Mr. Bodden, the valedictorian, speaking on behalf of the four graduates, said they were well prepared to meet any challenge their new jobs brought them, thanks to the training they had received.

Prayer, commitment, staying focused and hard work formed the basis of their successful completion of the course, he said. “Why did we do it? To become the best EMTs Cayman Islands has ever seen. This class has shown us our potential, we have our entire career ahead of us and we aspire to become CMO [chief medical officer], CEO, paramedic, RN [registered nurse], we can do it,” he said.

He was referring to a culture within the Health Services Authority for people to retrain and work their way through the ranks. For example, his class’ lead instructor Joy Vernon was formerly a nursing assistant before training to be an EMT and a paramedic and going on to become an EMT tutor, while Health Services Authority CEO Lizzette Yearwood also started out in her career as a nurses’ aide at the Faith Hospital on Cayman Brac.

And two of the new EMTs – Mr. Bodden and Mr. Caballero – both worked as porters at the Cayman Islands Hospital before undergoing their EMT training.

Mr. Duval pointed out that the demand for EMTs was increasing in Cayman, with his department responding to nearly 4,000 cases last year, compared to 2,496 cases in 2001.

The Emergency Medical Services has 28 employees in Grand Cayman, 11 of whom are women, he said, adding that the EMT training programme had opened doors and created avenues for young Caymanians to work within the Health Services Authority.

The Health Services Authority’s Emergency Medical Services and the Florida Medical Training Institute launched the local course last year.

Previously, EMTs have been trained by the Florida Medical Training Institute – an accredited school at which many of Cayman’s EMTs have undergone training in the US. The local training enables the EMTs to also be registered overseas.

Ms Vernon said that local EMT programmes had been taught in Cayman before, with the last one being held in Grand Cayman in 1999.

During the course, the students studied theory in a classroom setting for 12 weeks, which was followed by five weeks of clinical work, in the hospital’s medical, surgical and accident and emergency wards and with the ambulance crews.

Ms Vernon said the Florida Medical Training Institute’s curriculum, along with the US Department of Transportation requirements, is a total of 12 weeks or 152 hours. “Our students here in Grand Cayman went above and beyond the mandatory requirements. The programme here added the additional five weeks totalling 392 hours. The additional weeks were added to allow our students to gain as much experience possible from what they learned in the classroom,” she said.

As part of the basic curriculum, the new EMTs studied critical thinking; identification of critically ill or injured patients and treating them accordingly; giving medications; assisting in normal birth deliveries; and managing trauma patients.

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Emergency medical technicians with medical and training officials. Pictured front, from left, are lead instructor Joy Vernon, EMTs Nicholas Elliot, Kerry-Ann Robinson, Ernesto Bodden and Selvin Caballero, Minister of Health Mark Scotland and Health Services Authority CEO Lizzette Yearwood. Back row, from left, are HSA Medical Director Greg Hoeksema and Emergency Medical Services Manager Stephen Duval with Nathan Thomas and Scott Schein of the Florida Medical Training Institute.
Photo: Norma Connolly