Russell Williams constantly looks for ways to become a more competitive candidate for jobs after graduation. A student of Sacramento State’s Paramedic Program, Williams is on a direct path toward his lifelong dream of becoming a California fire fighter and every bit of training counts.
“Landing a spot with a California fire agency is really competitive,” says Williams, who has already earned EMT and Fire Fighter I certifications from Butte Fire Academy and is currently interning with El Medio Fire Department in Oroville, California. “Becoming a paramedic will make me a more desirable candidate when I start to look for full-time positions.”
As Williams gained experience in the field as an EMT he found himself increasingly interested in the medical aspect of the fire service. “As a paramedic, I’ll get to administer medications, intubate and start IVs. It’s much more hands-on, which I find really satisfying,” he says. Williams has already responded to major vehicle accidents and performed CPR, saving a patient’s life after the individual’s vehicle struck a telephone pole.
Williams heard about the Golden Guardian exercise through the director of Sac State’s Paramedic Program. Historically, the Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) gathered volunteers for large-scale events by whatever means possible, but its partnership with Sac State provided the organization with dozens of student volunteers from the School of Nursing and College of Continuing Education’s Paramedic and Emergency Medical Technician programs.
Assigned specific injuries and artfully made up to fit the part, the “victims” gave professional paramedics, doctors and EMTs the opportunity to triage and treat them according to their symptoms and appearance. Students with a medical background have been a great addition to the simulation because they tend to offer a more realistic interpretation of the symptom or injury they are asked to imitate.
As a student volunteer, Williams witnessed firsthand how different agencies work together to coordinate patient triage, treatment and transport during a catastrophe.
“One volunteer really got into character and was screaming in pain, making it hard for the first responders to treat her,” describes Williams. “It made me think about how I would respond in a situation where emotions and adrenaline are running high. You’re not always going to have perfectly quiet, docile victims. They’re going to be scared. They’re going to be in pain. The responders did a great job, which really stood out to me as an example of how I might react in a similar situation.”
As one who has known what he wanted to do from childhood, Williams’ dream of becoming a fire fighter is only reinforced when he witnesses professionals doing their jobs in the field.
“My number one goal is to help people and put into practice everything I’ve learned,” he says. “One thing I’m always reminded of when I’m around emergency medical personnel is their commitment to public service. I’m really looking forward to providing that service myself, and exercising the moral and ethical values I believe in on a daily basis.”