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  • Welcome to the Blackbelt Medic. This is the web home of Nathaniel Bland: Former Firefighter, Paramedic, EMS Educator, 2nd Degree Blackbelt, and student.

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Thursday, 06 August 2015 17:31

There and back again...A Nathaniel's tale.

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Good day to everyone! It’s been a while since my last post, but life has been insane recently. I actually had to go back on here and read my last post so I would know what to tell everyone!

Since March of this year a lot has happened. Back then, I was looking at 3.5 weeks of the semester to go before the class side of paramedic was done. Now, I’m looking at about 3 weeks before internship is complete. While I can’t relax just yet, I have been reflecting on the past year of my life.

It’s hard to believe that in a week or so, it will have been one year since I began the UNM EMSA paramedic program. As I sit here, I can’t help but think about all that I’ve learned in that time. I went into the program expecting it to be hard and to learn a lot, and I have learned a LOT for sure. In many different areas, I’ve found EMS to be extremely exciting. From my 3-4 years of Fire back in California, I knew that I liked 911 and EMS specifically, but now having worked here in Albuquerque in 911 for about a year now, I have seen both sides now. Back home was a rural, wilderness response environment that had us sitting a lot and doing lots of training. Here in Albuquerque, we run a high call volume 911 system which keeps us pretty busy. It’s not unusual at all for me to run more calls in a day here than I did in a month back home. Now, that speaks to both the slow nature of my system back home, and the, at times, horrendous business of the system here. But let’s set that aside for the moment. I have gained more experience here in the last year, in terms of EMS, than I did in my entire time back at Lockwood. I will say, I feel like that has been great experience doing it at the same time as my paramedic training.


The paramedic programs last phase is internship. A 320 hour internship spent on a 911 ambulance or rescue from Albuquerque Fire Department or Bernalillo County Fire Department. During internship, the student paramedic is expected to finally begin to apply everything they’ve learned over the last academic year to real 911 patients.

A word on clinicals: I feel like clinicals were mainly a time to practice skills. Patient assessments were required, but the honest truth is that assessing a patient in a hospital is such a different thing than assessing them in the field. For me, clinicals were a boring time. There were a few exciting things, but for the most part it was just a matter of meeting competencies , filling time requirements, and getting skills done. I really didn’t enjoy clinicals all that much; however, I do recognize that I learned a lot during that time and really got more comfortable with skills, despite the fact that the way our clinicals are designed here, the paperwork is a pretty large chunk and I spent hours doing it all. I feel that it took away from the patient care aspect because I had to worry more about certain types of patients I needed to find and I felt like I couldn’t just jump and help anywhere I was needed.

Now, internship is something I enjoy a lot. In a way there’s more paperwork, but the patient care is truly real. We are called to the scene, assess, treat, and transport. I don’t have certain categories of patient I have to see, I just have to do it all as it comes. I actually like I’m doing medicine during an internship shift and I feel like I’m making a difference.

In a couple weeks, the Fall semester here at UNM begins. It’s going to be a bit weird turning back into a “regular” college student. I’ve spent the last year studying paramedicine and emergency care and I’ve loved it, but I cannot say that it felt like college. Sure it was graded, but the “college experience” is lacking from it. I was walking around Main Campus yesterday, someplace I really have not done in a year, looking for the classrooms I would be I and I was reminded just how much fun it is to be a college student. Yes, it’s gonna be a lot of work for the next year, but the experience of walking down the halls of different buildings, being in lectures, study groups, and getting to just be at college is something I forgot that I liked. UNM has a great campus and I can’t wait to be a part of it once again.

So, I began internship back in July. I was working Monday/Tuesday, had Wednesday off, and then had internship Thursday through Saturday with Sunday off. But thanks to UNM delaying my classes’ internship by a month the first two weeks of the fall semester overlap with my internship by two weeks. I have my schedule arranged as such that, for those two weeks, I will be going 7 days a week. Working Sunday/Monday, class Tuesday through Thursday, and the internship Friday and Saturday. I’m not looking forward to it, but it’s almost done! I’m so ready to be done.

The final hurdle was that in the midst of all this, the apartments I have been living at for two years told me they had already given my room away over a month before my lease was expired and wouldn’t let me re-sign my lease. So I have very short notice to find a new place to live. I did, but boy to I hate moving!!!

Lastly, I’m super excited for my beautiful Casey. She begins the paramedic program here in a couple weeks and gets to experience all the joy, fun, good times, work, grief, and stress that it has to offer. I’m very proud of her and I can’t wait to stand beside her through this in the way that she has stood beside me for the past year. Best part of all, she now has a job at the same place as me doing 911 here in Albuquerque!

So now that we’re all caught up with paramedic, let’s turn personal here for a bit. I was super disappointed that the baseball game I went to was rained out! My Sacramento Rivercats were in town playing the Albuquerque Isotopes and the ONE SINGLE DAY they were here that I had off…what happens? It rains the game out!!!!!! *sigh* So, I didn’t get to see Sacramento beat the Topes, but it was fun to run around the park with Casey, get drenched in the rain, and have an overall good time. We later discovered that night that she is not a fan of the movie “Shutter Island.” Too bad, I love that movie.

The place where I’m renting a room is a family house in the Northeast heights of Albuquerque. I gotta tell you, it’s strange to live in a suburban neighbor hood again. Not since I lived in Sacramento (And we moved in 2004 I think) have I lived in a neighborhood of a suburb. It’s weird to have neighbors….barking dogs….and all the other sounds of life. At least it’s quiet at night…unlike Lobo Village.


The highlight of my summer this year was getting to go back to California for my sisters’ graduation from Cal Poly. She’s worked…slaved…to get her degree in political science, and as much as I might needle her about it, I am extremely proud of her! She is opening a new chapter of her life and I can’t wait to see what’s next. It was great to get back home, to the beach, and to In-N-Out for a little bit, though not as long as I would like. We had a great family get together and great friends and food. Then it was quickly back to Albuquerque for me to finish out clinicals!

Well folks, I think that’s about it for now! I hope to publish some more articles, shorter, but more often in the future. For now, stay frosty and don’t drink and walk!

Read 1203 times Last modified on Thursday, 06 August 2015 20:25

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