- Associated Press - Monday, September 5, 2016

THIBODAUX, La. (AP) - Before he joined Acadian Ambulance, Charlie Smith knew he wanted to be a doctor.

Now that he’s been an emergency medical technician for more than a year and a half, he’s found his specialty.

“I didn’t know I wanted to be an ER doc until I got into the emergency field and I was like, ‘Wow. This is where it’s at. This is where the adrenaline is, this is where the cool stuff happens,’” he said.

Smith, 24, earned his bachelor’s degree from Nicholls State University in May 2014, with a major in biology and minor in chemistry. After he returned from a summer job in Tennessee, his mother suggested he enroll in emergency medical service classes.

He spent a few months at the National EMS Academy in Houma and started working out of Acadian’s West Main Street station near Thibodaux in January 2015. He started the EMS Academy’s paramedic program in August 2015, still working full time.

To finish paramedic school this month, Smith had to demonstrate medical assessments and care on a mannequin and run through a call with an instructor. Now that he’s done, he’ll start working as a paramedic in a few weeks.

Chad Davis, who been Smith’s supervisor since he started, described him as a “model employee.”

“He’s punctual. He treats his patients professionally and kindly and helps the hospital staff out,” Davis said. “Anything he can do to help his patients, he does. He’s super kind and professional in his interactions with his co-workers. He and his partner work really well as a team. Anything asked of him, he does without question, with no issues.”

Thibodaux Regional Medical Center honored Smith and his partner, Darryl Martinez, earlier this year with Wonderful Outstanding Worker, or WOW, awards for helping in the emergency room during a busy time.

Smith was chosen as Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5097’s Medic of the Year and VFW District Medic of the Year. In June, he received Acadian’s President’s Performance Award, for which Davis nominated him.

He said he never expected the awards.

“It makes me feel good, makes me feel proud that I work for such an amazing company,” he said. “I make sure that I go out there and do my best every day, and hopefully that reflects in my patient care and treatment of co-workers, not only with Acadian but also the hospital staff. … Having a good rapport with them really helps our job a lot. They learn to trust you, and they learn that you can provide patient care, that way they don’t have to worry too much.”

Entry-level emergency medical technicians can only provide basic life support, Smith said, while paramedics can provide advanced life support, including cardiac monitoring, starting an IV and giving various medications EMTs can’t give.

Smith said people in any emergency response field learn to keep their adrenaline and stress in check until after a situation is handled. Still, his first time responding to a patient in cardiac arrest and his first fatal crash stick with him.

“The hardest part of the job is that sometimes you know that no matter what you do, eventually your efforts are going to be futile,” he said. “You’ve trained for all this time to learn how to fix people, and, unfortunately, things are just too bad sometimes for us to fix. … The best way that I learned to cope with it is knowing that I did everything I could possibly do, and after that it’s out of my hands.”

Smith plans to apply to medical school with the hope of getting in next fall or the following spring. He wants to stay in the United States, possibly Tennessee.

“The most rewarding part of the job is the look on patients’ faces when you are able to help them - and not only the patient, but also the family,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to help people somehow, some way. That’s probably the driving factor in wanting to be in the medical field. That’s what I feel called to do, so to be able to hand them over to the hospital knowing they are in a better condition than when I found them is a very rewarding feeling.”


Information from: Daily Comet, https://www.dailycomet.com

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