Rescue workers overcome their disabilities

EMT Training

Whether individuals hold jobs as emergency medical technicians (EMTs) or firefighters, they need to possess the right combination of physical stamina and communication skills in order to help those in need.

Whether individuals hold jobs as emergency medical technicians (EMTs) or firefighters, they need to possess the right combination of physical stamina and communication skills in order to help those in need. As a result, some may assume that people who are deaf or hard of hearing cannot complete EMT training or firefighter training and serve the public. Anyone who makes this assumption would be wrong, based on those who have not let their disability stand in the way of their dreams.

Amber Tansey – deaf and driven
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, EMTs should possess good listening skills, as they have to determine how extensive patients’ injuries or illnesses are. Unfortunately, these are skills 28-year-old Amber Tansey does not have, as the California native is deaf, The Press Democrat reported. Still, this does not mean she cannot communicate in other ways.

In fact, Tansey communicates in every way possible, from sign language and hand gestures to written notes and computer messages. All of her hard work is helping her achieve her goal of becoming an EMT – something she knows she can do.

To date, Tansey has had the opportunity to ride with San Francisco firefighters, paramedics and EMTs. Currently, she is trying to figure out whether she would be better suited for a job in an ambulance, on a fire truck or in another area of emergency medicine. Despite her disability, there are those who believe in Tansey, including former instructor and ambulance paramedicBryan Smith.

“She is driven,” Smith said. “She might have to be willing to be creative, and the company she works for might have to be willing to be creative. But I definitely believe she can do it.”

Deaf firefighters find ways to serve
Just as those who hold EMT jobs must have good listening skills, firefighters need to possess strong communication skills in order to work as part of a team in dangerous settings. While they may not be rushing into burning buildings, four deaf graduates of the Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf still find ways to help as volunteer firefighters, according to the school’s website.

These individuals rely on hearing aids, lip reading, vibrating pagers and other techniques to help them show they can be just as helpful as firefighters who are not hard of hearing. The volunteers are not permitted to enter burning buildings, but that is fine by them.

“There’s enough other work that needs to be done,” David Hazelwood, a member of New York’s Chili Volunteer Fire Department, told the website. “I want to feel like I’m giving back.”

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