Saving Lives in the Summer with Gabby Pacula ’21

Back to All Stories

During the summer, Colgate students are applying their liberal arts know-how in a variety of real-world settings, and they are keeping our community posted on their progress. Neuroscience major Gabby Pacula ’21, from San Diego, Calif., describes her EMT training.

This summer, I completed an emergency medical technician (EMT) training course for six weeks at National University in San Diego, Calif. With its 168 classroom hours and 24 ride-along hours, this course has taught me a great deal about the medical field. Not only have I learned how to care for patients with life-threatening conditions, but I’ve also met a number of amazing paramedics, fire medics, flight medics, and SWAT medics — all of whom have offered me the chance to shadow and work with them in the future.

My EMT class was split into two four-week-long sessions. EMT 1 introduced us to the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) system, as well as to our responsibilities and goals. Providing us with knowledge on anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology, EMT 1 focused on the medical aspects of an EMT’s job. It homed in on the origins, signs, and symptoms of common medical emergencies. 

EMT 2 focused on trauma. In addition to textbook learning, we received instruction on performing important skills in the field. These skills include: conducting cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR); administering oxygen; ventilating patients; assessing trauma; tying tourniquets; and controlling major bleeding. 

To fulfill the 24 hours of ride-along experience necessary for EMT certification, National University partnered with American Medical Response (AMR) — the largest ambulance company in San Diego. While completing ride-along shifts on AMR ambulances, we interacted with patients and issued necessary treatment. We documented medical information from the patients we assessed to produce patient care reports for receiving hospitals. 

As a neuroscience major, I’m highly interested in medicine. However, at the beginning of the summer, I had no idea what I wanted to do after college. Now, I’ve learned invaluable life skills that will support me in whichever area I choose to pursue. I also have a newfound respect for first responders. I’m excited about the opportunity to help others; I hope to treat them with care and compassion.