Ambulance Obstacle Course

Wednesday, February 14th 2007, 3:10 pm
By: News On 6

Aspiring paramedics put their driving skills to the test on an obstacle course on Wednesday. EMSA set up the course to show the trainees how difficult responding to a call can be. News On 6 reporter Chris Wright reports on how everyone fared.

EMSA says safety is the most important part of its medics' jobs, and you can't be safe if you can't drive. The obstacle course tests driving skills that are essential while racing to a call; driving in reverse, navigating sharp turns, curves, and of course, parallel parking.

A group of two dozen trainees took their best shot at the course Wednesday, and they were given little room for error. They had just eight minutes to complete the course, and if they knock over just one cone, it's back to the beginning. But the trainees were given a couple practice runs to get the mistakes out of their system.

Instructors say students need to be perfect on the course because they have to be perfect once they are out on the streets. EMSA says simply driving a vehicle as large as an ambulance is difficult, but drivers also have to be on the lookout for irresponsible or inattentive drivers.

"You have people who will run lights, they will race the ambulance. They also tend sometimes to not pay attention," EMSA Instructor Michele Sieber said.

Wednesday morning's snow flurries also made achieving perfection on the course even tougher, but instructors are certain the training will come in handy when these trainees are trying to save lives.

"It's tough and it is intimidating, but to be able to accomplish it and feel safe will make them feel more safe once they get out on the streets," said Sieber.

The obstacle course is part of the six-week training program EMSA trainees are going through. The group we spoke with is expected to graduate and become medics by mid-March.