Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Nationally Registered

I passed the National Registry Exam. That makes me a Nationally Registered EMT. I have a certificate that will expire in 720 days unless I keep up with ongoing education requirements. That's how you find out that you passed, by the way. You sign into your profile in the NERMT website and it says, "Your certificate will become inactive in 720 days unless you do all this stuff." No "Congratulations," no "That test was weird, wasn't it! But nice job, welcome to the club."

The test was weird. I think there are people who know EMS and people who know how to write comprehensible test questions and never the two shall meet. In my week of pure studying that led up to the exam, not to mention the month of live-eat-breathe EMS that came first, I was starting to feel pretty good about my chances of passing. And while I got overwhelming support from everyone around me, a paramedic friend of mine kept warning me that the test would be...odd. "You'll do great," he'd say. "You'll pass. But it's....odd. You'll walk away from it cross-eyed. That's normal."
Actually, it was infuriating. I hated the test. And I generally love tests. "An opportunity to celebrate your knowledge!" Our instructor would joke as he handed out the difficult RMI tests during the course, and while everyone groaned I'd be bouncing around in my seat thinking, hell yeah! Celebrate!

But the exam was killer. Each question seemed more unduly complex and vague than the last. This is how you're assessing our knowledge?  All that wonderful knowledge inside my head carefully bestowed on us by hardworking instructors and this is how you're assessing me? A) Sterile dressing or B)Direct pressure? What about Direct Pressure with sterile dressing, where is that answer? I held my breath as I banged my finger against the mouse, clicked my way through 70 questions (some people got 150 questions, I got 70) and then the woman working at the test center, who by the way was exactly two feet tall, handed me a certificate that I'd taken the thing and that was that.

And afterwards there was no one to go to Icicle with and blow off steam. The whole thing felt very anti-climactic. And for the first time in my life, I had absolutely no idea whether or not I'd passed the exam. On the long drive home from Everett, I called Ty and vented my frustration in a manner that sounded high-pitched, like stridor. It sounded a lot like whining. I don't normally whine about things. "The worst part," I told him, "Is that if I do fail, I'll have no idea what to study for next time."

Ty kept saying "Aw geez."
"Aw Geez, Melina, that doesn't sound good at all."
We went to see Radiohead that night at the Key Arena. Just as an aside, there are more than 18,000 seats in the Key Arena, and yet we still end up seated directly behind my ex-boyfriend Ben, the one I've written about so often here, and his fiance. Eighteen thousand seats. Go figure.
I told them I'd just passed the NREMT. Screw it. When you're faced with the prospect of staring at the back of your ex-boyfriend's head all evening, you've got to say something fiercely confident and cool. None of this, "Ah I took this test thing and it had my way with me and I got to the testing center 15 minutes late because google maps blows and I'm not really sure what happened after that and the proctor was a midget, but, like, the smallest midget I'd ever seen, I hope I didn't stare."

Nah. You've got to be all, "Hey, dude, you get fucked up tonight, I've got your back."

Which also sounds better than, "Hey, when you get old and present with symptoms that call for Nitro, and you have your own prescription, I will help assist you with that, but only after calling Medical Control for permission, unless it is expressly worded in my protocol."

Then the lights went down, and Radiohead started, and I was actually able to relax. If you're an extremely impatient person like I am, and you're waiting to hear back about whether or not you're officially an Emergency Medical Technician, I recommend going to see Radiohead. All the lights and sound and people. I stopped thinking entirely.
 And in the morning I raced out of bed, kicking the covers into pile on the floor and checked my phone. On the website, there was a message telling me I'd been assigned a number, and that I'd better get on my continuing education or I'd lose my NREMT status. Still not entirely sure, I clicked through the whole site, on that tiny little screen, and eventually found a little note that said oh yeah, you passed the test.

That weird test.

Somehow, there in the mountains in the snow, in the midst of all those wonderfully distracting people, I managed to learn everything I needed to learn.


Sabertoothali said...

You are amazing and emt-tastico!! Xoxo cuz

Tracy said...

Wahoo! Good job Melina!

matropolis said...


Anonymous said...

What if I told you: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _.

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[]________ HANGMAN!!

Fenris said...

I had pretty close to the same reaction to the test... and usually share your excitement of the celebration.