EMS instructor Crystal Richmond, BS, NRP, EMS I, is a lead instructor who teaches our EMT/EMR and ALS Paramedic classes.
Richmond lives in the United Kingdom, where she’s working on her master’s degree at the University of York. She plans to obtain her MSc in computer science because of an increased demand for providers to possess programming skills used in the field.
She received her BS in Paramedicine at University of Maryland Baltimore County and has worked in 911 transport, inter-facility and critical care transport.
Why do you love being an EMS instructor?
It really is my passion.
I once heard the saying, “Being a provider is amazing, but you can just treat one patient at a time. By educating, you are treating and reaching a possibly infinite number of patients.”
That really struck me as a powerful way to think about education — especially in EMS.
I’ve always seen potential in people and want to help them reach their full capabilities.
What is something one of your students has taught you?
I try to always keep an open mind to being taught by students.
It may not be about the material they are learning, but I have learned more important things:
- Cultural differences
There are tons of people with differing backgrounds coming into EMS. I’ve learned about fixing cars, the law, even how to maintain a tropical aquarium with coral in it!
It’s fascinating to learn from students. It keeps us EMS instructors in the student mindset.
What does it take to rise above and become a highly successful paramedic or EMT?
Staying humble and adaptable. You can have confidence, but not cockiness.
Always keep learning, even if it sounds cliché. Our field is rapidly changing and we need to keep up with the flow.
Doing something just because it has always been done that way leads to a dangerous path.
What is the biggest challenge you have overcome in your profession?
Everyone has challenges, if we didn’t, life would be a flat line — and we know what asystole means.
Mine probably has been developing the confidence needed to stay strong in this profession.
When I first became a paramedic, I was excited but nervous. My first job as an ALS provider was tough.
Making the transition from BLS to ALS was a slow process for me because I was scared to make mistakes. I had excellent training and clinical opportunities during my education, but it is still different when you are out there as the main provider.
I found mentors who were able to guide me and help me learn from my mistakes. Experience is the best educator.
I also try to do extra training, attend conferences, and read blogs and medical journals to stay abreast of the latest developments.
I want people to understand something. As new providers, it is OK to be nervous and scared, but don’t give up.
There is no shame in going through your learning curve, as long as you learn from your experiences and keep pushing through.
What are the top two questions you get from students? Which answers do you give them?
No. 1 question: People want to know the keys to successfully pass the NREMT. It’s intimidating for many students. I had trouble taking tests in school too.
There is no secret to success for that test. It is about knowing the material and developing critical thinking skills.
If students are struggling with the material, ask more questions and get help until you understand. Also, learning how to break down a question that is styled like the NREMT can help.
The majority of my students know the material, the key is helping them with test-taking strategies, which gives them the confidence to pass.
No. 2 question: People ask about next career steps. Each individual is so different. I tell them to set goals, both short term and long term.
Getting experience as an EMT or new provider will help them decide which path to pursue.
Also, never pass up opportunities — whether it’s a positive or negative experience or job — it becomes a teaching tool to gain knowledge and experience.
Do you think there is a bright future for the paramedicine profession?
Absolutely, if we play our cards right. Because we need to realize this profession can make changes and have an impact, even at local levels.
EMS, especially in England, is different. They still face many of the same issues as the U.S. such as:
- Bad apples in the bunch
- Crappy calls
- System abuse
They have a higher standard of education, which I am a supporter of for EMS, especially ALS providers. I think raising our standards of education can lead to better outcomes for EMS.
We are asked to perform more tasks in a variety of areas, like community paramedicine, disaster response, active assailant response.
As the healthcare system continues to change, no one knows the outcome. We just know that EMS will be a resource that’s continually utilized. It’s up to us to write our future.