TYLER (KYTX) - Fitness is a job requirement for some careers. That's certainly true for paramedics and emergency medical technicians. There are certain physical requirements it takes to protect you in an emergency.
There's more to saving lives than just written tests. At ETMC EMS, both paramedics and EMT's must pass an agility test that assesses their strength and cardiovascular fitness before they're ever hired.
Before they do CPR on you, potential East Texas Medical Center EMTs must be able to do 10 minutes of compressions on a dummy.
"That's just the cardiovascular part of the test. If the heart can sustain 10 minutes of CPR and then we check the vitals afterward to make sure they are not exceeding the body's limits," says Shaun Jackson, EMT.
Shaun Jackson passed ETMC's agility test 3 years ago. "The best way I can describe it is challenging," says Shaun.
Seconds count when Shaun and his fellow EMT's are trying to save a life. That's why ETMC applicants are also tested on their ability to move quickly through untraditional spaces.
In real life situations, EMS workers lug around 40 pounds of lifesaving equipment. They've got to be able to do that up 3 flights of stairs.
"I think the main part as far as the testing goes, the hardest part is that 250 pound 2 person lift," says Mark Saczek.
Mark Saczek is an ETMC physical therapist who helped create the agility test for their employees. "If they are not fit enough to pick up the people and they are having to wait to do transfer or the lift. Those are precious seconds that are wasted. We want to protect the patient," says Mark.
And they want to save lives. Having a staff of paramedics and EMT's who are physically fit to do that is a priority.
Mark Saczek with ETMC says it's also important for their new hires' safety that they're physically strong enough to lift patients, because if they're not, they could also get hurt.