Forum Crew Member
As someone who did do his first responder and EMT courses before turning 18, I would like to make a couple of comments.
I did the same thing- full class load (high school + two classes at the community college + EMT program + working as a dispatcher for an ambulance service) and I had NO problem with picking up the information in class. In fact, I thought the stuff was done at such a ridiculously basic level that we were not getting taught enough (and still don't believe EMTs get enough knowledge coming out of the basic class). I've always wondered about people who complained about having to learn "so much" and the "stress" of the class. I think it boils down to- as someone said- poor time management and study skills. From my experience as an adjunct instructor and preceptor, I've noticed the younger guys tend to do better in class (once you get them to calm down) than the older folks do, but the exact reverse is true when you get into clinicals.
My primary reason for discouraging EMS training for people under 18 has nothing to do with them not being able to perform adequately. It has everything to do with the effects on them of what they see. You're talking to someone who burned out at the age of 20 (hence why I sometimes (usually?) come across as really bitter on here) after some crap happened that seriously messed me up (Ridryder is well aware of what I am talking about since I had a very long in-person conversation with him about it and some other stuff; for his providing an empathetic ear, I am forever in his debt) and I wish to keep other kids from experiencing that. If I could go back and do it all over, I would have still taken the classes, but I would not have been so focused on EMS to the exclusion of a lot of the stuff I missed out on.
Agreed adolescence is a pivotal stage of psychosocial development. Teens are often focused on doing "what is right" or at least what they believe to be right. This can lead to many psychosocial problems, not to mention to the decreased/absent peer interaction. During the teenage years one is still developing their personality/identity, and although they think they can rule the world with their ideological thinking. It is important for this to be somewhat maintained, and seeing a MCI or all those AMI's that you loose can really take a toll on a kid in a profound way. On the other had it is the time the individual is making career goals, so there should still be some encouragement. I personally like the idea of high school physical training programs as a way to ease kids into the field (it is what I am encouraging my sister to do rather than be involved with anything too dramatic).