California native left job in communications field to launch a career in paramedicine
Amy Thompson, 32, graduated from Inver Hills Community College in May 2022 with her A.S. degree in Emergency Medical Services (EMS). Amy’s goal is to work as a paramedic in the Twin Cities metro area. Amy made her decision to explore a new career path during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I was laid off from my office job at the beginning of the pandemic,” she said. “When that happened, I took it as a sign to take the time to find a job that I was better at and enjoyed doing. I got my EMT cert in the fall of 2020 and started paramedic school at Inver in spring 2021. I haven’t looked back! Every shift I work, it’s more solidified that I choose the right path for me—even as a second career. It’s never too late to realign and follow a different path.”
As part of her EMS clinical training, Amy learned on the job as an EMT for Allina Health. On one recent shift, she helped deliver two babies and assisted a patient having a heart attack.
Gordon A. Kokx, PhD, NRP, serves as chair of the college’s EMS department. Gordy is the EMS program director, and he also teaches EMS courses. He was astonished that Amy had the opportunity to experience two childbirths on one shift.
“It is a rare event for an EMS provider to be part of a baby delivery in the field,” Gordy said. “Some paramedics go an entire career without assisting in a birth. For Amy, as a student, to have been part of two deliveries in one day was unbelievable!”
Gordy added that everyone in the EMS department was excited for her. “It is a great example of the amazing things that can happen on any given day in the life of a paramedic,” he said.
Originally from Palm Desert, California, Amy graduated from Eagle Valley High School in Gypsum, Colorado, Class of 2007. She has Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Journalism and Mass Communication from Iowa State University.
In her free time, Amy enjoys reading and writing, cooking and baking, traveling, camping, sewing, and shopping. She resides in Minneapolis with her two cats, Claude and Barbara, and her dog, a standard poodle named Lou.
In her own words: Delivering baby one on her EMS clinical day
I was doing a clinical shift at Allina. I was with my preceptor, Greg Harvey, and paramedic, Joey Lindholm, both of whom are Inver Hills graduates. I do all my clinical rides out of the Allina Mounds View base.
Our OB call was the first call at the beginning of our shift right from the garage. This was also my first shift back after winter break. We were dispatched for a 38-week-along pregnant female in active labor.
The first thing I told my preceptor was, “This is going to be so many FISDAP points!” FISDAP is the program we use to track our patient contacts and skill requirements for graduation.
My preceptor wasn’t as thrilled as I was—he had delivered several babies prior to this.
When we pulled up on scene at an apartment building, the woman was in active labor on all fours. The baby wasn’t crowning at that point, so we decided to load and go. Her first birth was a cesarean, so we didn’t think this baby would be able to be born naturally. In EMS, the only time you stay and deliver the baby on scene is when there are signs of an imminent birth, aka crowning.
“We rushed mother and baby up to the labor and delivery floor and transferred care. I stayed to watch the nurses wrap and swaddle the baby, weigh him (7.7 pounds!), and place him in the warmer. The baby was the most precious thing I had ever seen!”
We loaded the mother up and started on our way to the hospital, which was about a 20-minute ride. During transport, I kept the mother comfortable through her contractions, and we monitored her vitals. Contractions were increasing; at this point two minutes apart.
About halfway through transport, the baby decided to start his arrival! We could see crowning. We instructed our partner to pull over so we could deliver the baby. My preceptor situated himself at the foot of the stretcher to guide the baby out, and I prepped the tools we might need. After four or five intense contractions, the baby arrived!
It was a healthy baby boy. My preceptor vigorously dried him to promote breathing and circulation. I fumbled one of the OB kits, so I had to grab the second OB kit looking for a set of clamps to cut the umbilical cord. I clamped the cord and cut the umbilical cord. Then put the teeny tiny baby hat on, which was my favorite part!
I held the baby while we wrapped him in more blankets to conserve heat, then I handed the baby back to my preceptor so I could massage the mother’s uterus to help the vessels constrict and stop the bleeding. The mother was vitally stable after birth, but she had lost a lot of blood.
By the time the birth was complete, we were at the hospital. We rushed mother and baby up to the labor and delivery floor and transferred care. I stayed to watch the nurses wrap and swaddle the baby, weigh him (7.7 pounds!), and place him in the warmer. The baby was the most precious thing I had ever seen! The placenta was delivered while she was on the L & D floor, so I was able to see that and the drawing of blood from the umbilical cord. We left mother and baby in the hands of a very capable staff.
The entire experience was so amazing! Being there while a life was brought into the world was just a joyful experience. We see so much death and dying in this career that it was wonderful to see the opposite end of that.
2022 EMS Graduate
Inver Hills Community College
Amy Thompson • Q & A
What advice would you give students thinking about majoring in EMS?
EMS is much more than guts and glory. If you go into this career hoping every call is going to be something gory, you’re going to get burnt out very quickly. Find wins in the small calls and ask questions! There’s something to be learned from every call. Also, as one of my partners says: “Practicing radical acceptance in this career will help you maintain your sanity and your happiness.”
What aspect of your EMS training do you find the most rewarding?
I love being a student. Like, I love having the title of “student,” so I get a free pass to try everything and ask all the questions. It’s very liberating.
Three words that describe you as an EMS student:
EASYGOING. AMBITIOUS. OPTIMISTIC.
What are your greatest strengths as a future paramedic?
I consider one of my greatest strengths to be able to talk to anyone. This profession involves so much talking, whether it’s de-escalating a tense situation, comforting a patient through a procedure, or making small talk with a patient on a long transport. I can talk to people from all walks of life and meet them where they’re at. It’s an honor to have patients trust me with their stories.
Where do you hope to find yourself in 20 years?
Sipping an Aperol Spritz on a yacht in the Mediterranean Sea. No? Just me?
Realistically, I would love to meld my communications career and my EMS career into a position. I haven’t thought about it much more than that. Unfortunately, EMS is a career that’s tough on you mentally and physically so having alternative options is important.
One word that best describes your experience at Inver Hills:
Amy Thompson EMS training gallery
Amy Thompson • 10 Answers
- Favorite sport or physical activity: Walking my dog
- The most exciting thing you’ve ever done: Kayaking in a bioluminescent bay in Vieques, Puerto Rico
- Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) Pay off my debt 2) Go on a long trip 3) Then it would be gone due to inflation
- Time period you would explore if you could time travel: Cleopatra’s time
- One thing you most want to accomplish in life: Writing a novel
- Your national bird if you were your own country: Flamingo
- Dream occupation: Novelist
- Person you would most like to meet: Victoria Beckham
- Skill you would most like to learn and master: Drawing
- Most important issue or problem facing humankind: Climate change
Learn more about the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Paramedic program at Inver Hills by contacting:
Amy Thompson EMS Rescue Class gallery
More about the EMS Paramedic program at Inver Hills…
Join a health care team that saves lives on the front lines. Train at Inver Hills to become a paramedic or emergency medical technician (EMT). Paramedics provide care in a variety of emergency medical and traumatic situations. With enough education or experience, EMTs and paramedics can become emergency service supervisors, managers, directors, or executive directors.
Why major in EMS at Inver Hills?
Earn your EMT certificate on your way to becoming a paramedic.
The 9-credit Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) program delivers a basic education in emergency medical care. As a student in the program, you will develop the competencies you’ll need to take the national certification exam, which you’ll need to pass to become an EMT, a requirement to enroll in our paramedic A.S. degree programs.
Learn how to care for people during medical emergencies.
As a student in our EMT certificate program, you’ll learn to be responsible for delivering emergency care to critically sick or injured people. You’ll develop the skills to use and maintain basic emergency equipment. Topics covered include patient assessment, trauma skills, and care and recognition of heart disease and respiratory problems. This program will give you clinical experience in the field. An EMT certificate is required to enroll in our A.S. in EMS program.
Be the go-to professional in extreme-stress situations.
Our Emergency Medical Services (EMS) degree and diploma programs deliver comprehensive educational and occupational preparation in advanced, prehospital emergency care. As a paramedic, you will be employed by advanced, life-support ambulance services as well in various out-of-hospital care settings to provide care in medical and traumatic emergencies.
Three options to advance your paramedic career.
Our EMS Paramedic program offers two degree tracks, Traditional and Accelerated. Both lead to an A.S. in Emergency Medical Services. We also offer a diploma option if you already have a degree or are seeking a career as a paramedic without completing additional liberal arts coursework.
Trust in the quality of your EMS education.
The Inver Hills EMS program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) on the recommendation of the Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the Emergency Medical Services Professions (CoAEMSP).
Attention paramedics looking for innovative training opportunities.
Our 12-credit Community Paramedic certificate provides additional training to certified, experienced paramedics in the areas of public health, health prevention, patient advocacy, triage, disease management, mental health, and the management of ongoing illness or injury. As a community paramedic, you’ll work for an EMS medical director in cooperation with a primary care doctor.
Paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMT) provide first-line medical care for sick and injured people at the scene of an emergency, which could be almost anywhere, including a private residence, accident site, terrorist attack, or disaster area.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), “Employment of EMTs and paramedics is projected to grow 11 percent from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations.”