Despite the 24-hour shifts, spontaneity of her work and maneuvering people through potentially life-threatening situations, Emergency Medical Technician Abby Linderman said being able to have a positive impact on those who need help makes her job worth it.
The 31-year-old Manhattan woman has been an EMT with Riley County EMS for almost three years. The Winfield native initially received her bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology at K-State and later began her EMS career with Pottawatomie County EMS.
Linderman said she had some seasonal jobs ending and wanted to supplement her downtime with working in EMS, a field she’d always been interested in. It stuck with her, however, and she’s been in the career ever since.
“(The job) is probably never what you’d expect when you first start,” Linderman said. “Every day is different, you see new things. ... (Pottawatomie County) was a great place to learn and get my feet wet, get my foot in the door.”
As an EMT, Linderman is able to assess a patient’s condition, provide basic life support and help transport patients to hospitals.
When a call comes in from dispatch, Linderman said she prepares to over prepare, thinking about the most efficient routes to get to a location if she’s driving or what type of equipment to bring on scene. Once they get to a call location, Linderman said she refers back to her training to systematically diagnose what is wrong or assess how to best treat someone.
“We have to play detective a lot,” Linderman said. “We just get out and start asking a lot of questions of the patient, of the bystanders. It’s just a lot of detective work and piecing together the potential of what could be going on with them. If we catch on to something, then we go into that (particular) mindset.”
To help in some situations, Linderman said the department is starting a File of Life initiative, in which people can display a paper in their homes that lists their medical history, medications, end-of-life wishes, allergies and more. This can help personnel better help someone if the patient cannot communicate the information themselves.
Linderman recently began studying to become a paramedic through a two-year program at Barton Community College, which will allow her to do more extensive prehospital care than her current position.
“So far, so good,” she said. “I’m getting used to doing homework and studying again.”
Beyond her typical responsibilities, Linderman also serves as a field training officer and CPR instructor, as well as helps with Riley County EMS’ public outreach committee.
As an instructor, Linderman said she trains both healthcare employees and the general public.
“The more people we can certify in CPR, the better,” she said. “It helps us when we have to respond to a situation, and CPR can already be in progress because a bystander or family member already knows what to do. Getting CPR initiated quickly greatly increases the chance of survival, and people can take this skill with them wherever they go.”
With the outreach committee, Linderman helps educate people about what EMS does through demonstrations and public outings, and teaches them ways to keep themselves safe.
“It’s fun being out in the community and meeting people and seeing kids’ eyes light up when they see our trucks,” she said. “It’s something different than we do on a day-to-day basis, so it’s nice seeing people not in an emergency situation and being able to talk with them. Sometimes kids ask the best questions.”
Riley County EMS Director David Adams said he appreciates how dedicated Linderman is to not only her job while on duty but also to continuing her education. Adams said Linderman is not afraid to get out of her comfort zone and reach out to others.
“She’s so involved in different areas of our department … and she’s doing that while going to paramedic school,” Adams said. “That’s on top of life. That’s on top of work. When you have an employee that wants to better themselves and wants to take that career progression — I’ve always looked up to employees who do that.”
Whether through keeping tabs on a patient from hospital updates or seeing someone around town, Linderman said the best outcome for her line of work is knowing a patient has recovered.
“Seeing someone leave the hospital and return to their way of life is really cool to see,” Linderman said. “Sometimes we see people in a really bad situation, but if they make a full recovery, we know we’ve done our job to the best of our ability.”