Man beginning process to become paramedic collapses during practice drill
A man who was beginning the process to become a paramedic died Tuesday morning during a routine practice drill, officials said.
The 48-year-old man, whose name was not released and who officials said appeared to be in good physical condition, alerted the paramedic he was training with that he did not feel well about 9:40 a.m.
James Shamard, chief of staff for EMS, said the man was paired with an experienced paramedic and the two were pushing a hydraulic stretcher with a 185-pound mannequin across some grass at a park off Pleasant Valley Road.
The man sat down, collapsed within a few minutes, and other paramedics worked to resuscitate him. He was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge, where he was later pronounced dead. Officials were trying late Tuesday to notify the man’s family.
Dr. Paul Hinchey, medical director of EMS, said it appeared the man died from sudden cardiac arrest, which kills about 300,000 Americans each year.
“Sudden cardiac arrest can happen when you are sitting down and without physical exertion,” Hinchey said. “He had other paramedics working on him when he collapsed, and despite our best efforts, he died later at the hospital.”
The man was not an EMS cadet, officials said, but was practicing part of the physical test.
“The EMS (exam) is not as labor-intensive as a firefighter’s would be, and most of our gear is fairly lightweight,” Shamard said. “I wouldn’t describe our training or test as intensely aerobic.”
He said the potential cadet was on his first day of practice and was at the first of seven stations involved in the EMS test. The man had already completed an orientation and 12-hour ride-along with EMS.
Ernesto Rodriguez, EMS chief, said there is not a cutoff age to become a paramedic as long as all the physical tests are completed.
“This was very early in the hiring process stages,” Rodriguez said. “Tuesday was just a practice of our test.”