By Benjamin Flowers, Staff Reporter
The Belize Emergency Response Team (BERT), this week announced the list of Emergency Medical technicians, who have been licensed for the 2015-2015 period.
The 27 persons on the list have satisfied the licensing criteria of completing the required amount of continuing professional development hours and evaluations to retain their licenses.
Eight of the EMT’s are certified at the advanced (Cardiac), two of them at basic and 17 at the intermediate level.
Medical Director for BERT, Rigo Montejo, explained that the organization is proud to see the number of candidates who have renewed their licenses, considering that this year’s licensing criteria was more difficult than years prior.
“It’s all about making a standard”, Montejo said. “THis year we are trying to raise the standard up to par with the United States’ National Registry Examination forEMS (Emergency Medical Services) training, so we had a different class outline and brought in an instructor from Washington.”
Director of BERT Yvette Burks explained that ensuring standards is important in Belize now more than ever, since the Ministry of Health has agreed to increase the wages of those public servants who serve as EMTs.
“Now that the business is lucrative, it’s important that we have high standards because at the end of the day, its all about the lives of the people we serve”, Burks said.
She added that over the years some 300 EMTs have passed through the course and about 2/3 of them have gone on to obtaining their licenses.
EMTs are health care providers trained to provide pre-hospital emergency medical care. Their scope of service includes responding to medical emergencies, hazardous materials exposure, childbirth, child abuse, fires, rescues, trauma and psychiatric crises. They also trained in emergency medical procedures that need to be deployed rapidly (e.g. treatments for cardiac arrest).
EMTs are required to complete a minimum of 160 (minimum competency) hours of academic training and 96 hours field experience including ambulance time, emergency room and clinical laboratory time.
Even after the academic and practical requirements are met, those who wish to become licensed practicing EMTs must also attend a post mortem examination. Those who wish to upgrade to EMT cardiac must also complete the American Heart Association Advanced Cardiac Life Support training.