Editor’s Note: This is one in an ongoing series of stories about how USD 428 teachers spend their summer break.
As if facing a room full of teenagers on a daily basis isn’t exciting enough, Connie Claussen, Great Bend High School science teacher, opts for an equally exciting way to fill her extracurricular hours.
Claussen is an EMT (emergency medical technician) and ambulance driver for EagleMed, a job she’s held for the past four and a half years. EagleMed is a patient-transfer service through ground (ambulance), rotor (helicopter) and fixed-wing airplane.
She picks up 24-hour shifts during the school year as her schedule permits, but is available for more shifts in the summer.
“I give ongoing support for patients in need of medical care by either driving the ambulance or providing patient care and observation in the back of the ambulance,” the EMT explained.
“I work on weekends during the school year if they need me, but not too often because we work 24-hour shifts,” she said. “I also work almost every holiday because I get paid double and it is good money.
“When Western Kansas had that freak snow at the beginning of May, a co-worker who lives in Hoxie was snowed in because of roads,” she said. “I picked up a 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. shift to help out. And, of course, I was at school the next day.
Claussen said she “absolutely” sees similarities between teaching and being an EMT “especially since I am a science teacher.
“You have to read and gain the trust of each patient just the same way you have to look at each one of your students and realize that we all come from different walks of life,” she said.
“Many times we do not know what students are dealing with at home and we don’t always know what all is going on with the patient until we can get them to the receiving facility to get the proper tests,” Claussen continued.
“It really comes down to being understanding and being willing to meet the patient or the student where they are,” she said.
“I am currently an EMT, but I had to take a class, pass a written and a hands-on practical test,” she said. “However, I want to become a paramedic at some point to give more patient care than is currently in my scope.”
Once a month, the teacher turns student as she completes mandatory classes that help her stay current with her training.
“I have always had an interest in the medical field and I love helping people when they need a friendly face,” Claussen said. “Many times they are at their most vulnerable and need someone who can make them feel calm and provide good patient care.
“I love teaching, but if I had time to become a paramedic and then do a bridge course to registered nurse, I would. I could do it full time with the same passion I have for teaching,” she said.
Claussen said she’s had lots of exciting experiences and “I run into a lot of interesting people and situations in my job, but it is hard to give examples because of a strict HIPPA policy.”
That would be another similarity between the two jobs since it kind of sounds a lot like a teacher unable to tell tales outside of school.