Giving back: prospective EMTs learn to help the community

The months-long course ends in April

Being a firefighter is a complicated profession in the brave modern era we find ourselves living in.

Medications, spinal injuries, ambulance operations, splinting, active shooter operations and patient care — all of it and much more go into getting certified as an emergency medical technician in Grays Harbor County.

In Grays Harbor, 23 students are embarked on the months-long course, spending weekends and evenings learning what they need to know.

“Out in Wishkah where I am, I’ve been with my volunteer department for 10 years, but without medical training, I wasn’t much help to the community,” said Megan Hamilton, one of the students in the course. “With the EMT training I can be more of an asset to my community.”

That urge to help, instilling the knowledge to aid their neighbors, makes it a rewarding course, said lead instructor Capt. Larissa Rohr of the Hoquiam Fire Department.

“The class is going really well. We have a great cohort and a very diverse group of departments represented,” Rohr said. “(They can) better serve their citizens and be an asset to the department. Volunteerism is down, so it’s good to see a group of energetic and passionate people who want to serve their communities.”

Nearly a dozen departments from the coast to the county line are represented, Rohr said, with students meeting other volunteers they may work alongside with in mutual aid calls in the future.

“I’ve met a lot of people, in wide range of ages, from all over the county,” Hamilton said. “I found too that we all have that same goal in mind. We all want to be an asset for our community.”

The students will learn the basics over more than 150 hours of teaching and pass the practical and national exams at the end of the course when it wraps up in April before returning to their departments, Rohr said.

“We teach them to the national curriculum. Once they get back to their agencies, they start to learn more of the Grays Harbor protocols,” Rohr said. “They will have to pass their final practicals and they will have to pass the national registry EMT exam.”

For Rohr, giving those who want to learn an opportunity to do so is rewarding. Two students of hers from past classes have come to work with her at the department later, Rohr said.

“Knowing that I’m sending good providers out to the field, as well as watching people who are unsure about how to help someone gain confidence throughout the course and excitement for the occupation of emergency medicine,” Rohr said, “It’s pretty exciting.”

Helping your neighbors starts at home, Hamilton said.

“Definitely start volunteering where you can. I highly recommend it because it’s just rewarding, being able to help your community and your neighbors,” Hamilton said. “Never been a single call I regret going on. It’s not something I regret doing.”

Taking the course is a key step toward becoming a professional firefighter, Rohr said.

“Any high school students or young adults are interested in becoming a volunteer or EMT, contact the Grays Harbor EMS or their local department and maybe they can see themselves in the class.”

Contact Senior Reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or

Michael S. Lockett / The Daily World
Students in the county’s EMT certification course listen as lead instructor Capt. Larissa Rohr, left, lectures on March 23.

Michael S. Lockett / The Daily World Students in the county’s EMT certification course listen as lead instructor Capt. Larissa Rohr, left, lectures on March 23.