Internships give NSU students first-hand look at EMT, paramedic professions

Asher and Hanna Wahl, EMT interns

ABERDEEN, S.D. – Asher Wahl wasn’t sure what kind of duties to expect at his internship with Aberdeen Fire and Rescue.

But his first day on the job, a call came in for a major vehicle accident – and his crew told him he was coming along.

“I thought I was just going to sit in here and clean stuff,” joked Wahl, a junior at Northern State University.

Instead, he got immediate hands-on experience assisting firefighters, paramedics and EMTs. While interns can’t participate in actual patient care, Wahl served as an extra hand to shuttle necessary equipment.

Getting that first-hand look at what paramedics and EMTs do on a daily basis is the goal of the new internship program, said Mariah Mougey, EMS coordinator for Aberdeen Fire and Rescue. Mougey said when NSU Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Jon Mitchell contacted her with the idea, she saw it as a great opportunity.

“A lot of people in the medical field don’t know what we do. They don’t know what we’re capable of,” Mougey said. “So for us, this is going to help in the long run. They’re going to have a better understanding of what people in the field do, and these are things they’re going to have to do in real life.”

The first three internships were spring semester 2018, and two NSU students are interning this summer.

Learning Real-Life Skills

One real-life skill the interns learn is how to intubate someone – Mougey recently demonstrated this procedure on a dummy for Wahl and his sister, Hanna Wahl, who also has a summer internship with the department.

The Sioux Falls brother and sister said they’ve always had similar interests – including track and field and cross country, which they both participate in at Northern. Both are biology majors at NSU and plan to attend medical school after graduation with the intention of becoming physician’s assistants.

Learning these sorts of skills will be invaluable for his career, Asher Wahl said.

“Getting that hands-on experience is huge,” he said.

They both say they are learning a lot from their internships, where they do everything their crew does, which also includes participating in various training – fire training, rope rescue off of buildings, etc.

‘They Save Lives’

“It just gives a whole new perspective on EMTs and paramedics,” said Hanna Wahl, a senior. “I never knew they could do everything that they do.”

They are way more than just transporters, Asher Wahl said.

“They save lives.”

Mougey said the department is also providing an in-house EMT training program and hope that it can eventually become a credited course at Northern.

“The goal would be to start getting more people involved as EMTs in the community,” she said. “Because everywhere you go, people need EMTs. A lot of small towns here have volunteer services, so trained EMTs would be invaluable.”

Choosing Northern

The Wahls said they chose Northern because of athletics, but also because of its great price and the fact that it was just the right distance from Sioux Falls.

The small-community feel made a difference as well. Hanna Wahl said she fell in love with Northern on her first visit.

“The campus was beautiful and everyone was so personable,” she said.

She even got to meet with Dr. Jodie Ramsay, the chair of the biology department, that first day.

“It really made an impact.”

To learn more about biology education at Northern State University, visit the College of Arts and Sciences webpage or contact admissions@northern.edu.

About Northern State University

Northern State University is a regional university that offers outstanding academics and exceptional extracurricular activities at an affordable price on a safe, welcoming campus. Northern State recently announced its Educational Impact Campaign, with a goal of raising $45 million for a new South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, new athletic and recreation fields, and an on-campus regional sports complex. Once the campaign is complete, NSU will be the recipient of more than $100 million in privately funded building projects and scholarships within a decade. To learn more, visit NSU Admissions.