JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - A fun day of summer tubing on a lake interrupted by a tragic accident sent one sixth grader down the path to her future career.
Pfc. Katelyn Eggebroten, a health care specialist with 547th Medical Company, 62nd Medical Brigade, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, now 19, said her calling came when her dad tried to jump out of their family boat one year and snagged his foot on a loose screw that ripped his foot open.
"We were at a lake, so it was a while to the hospital," said Eggebroten. "I had to hold pressure all the way because without any medical training you're going to think he is going to bleed out from his foot."
Eggebroten said that is when her desire to pursue a medical career began.
"It gave me a rush to help my dad out," she said "Once we were at the hospital just seeing everything they did to help my dad - that made me want to go into the medical field. I had a real knack for it."
Eggebroten joined the Army immediately after graduation from high school. She chose health care specialists because of the wide array of opportunities for additional training, from combat medic to a physician assistant.
She has been in the Army less than two years and is already striving to be the best she can be by attending the Emergency Medical Technician-Advanced course offered by the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Medical Simulation Training Center.
"To get in the class, you had to make and 80 or higher (on the course entrance exam) and they took the top 20 percent of those that made 80 or better," said Eggebroten. "I really wanted to be here."
She said she tries to get involved in all the Army has to offer to advance not only in her career but also in her educational desires.
"(While I'm) in the Army, any opportunity for education - I want it, especially in the medical field," she said.
The MSTC EMT-A course offers an instructional classroom portion that uses slide presentations, discussions, videos and photographs, and a second hands-on training portion, where the skills that were just taught are applied to medical scenarios.
To keep their certification up-to-date, they must attend Table Eight training - an Emergency Medical Technician recertification course - every year.
"The medical assessment was the hardest," said Eggebroten. "It's like the one when we came in as EMT-Basic, but you are actually able to give medication, and you have to think about what you need to give the patient and what affect its going to have on them,"
The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians requires 72 hours of instruction every two years to remain certified and mandates that EMTs complete a refresher course and skills practical exam.
Since the training received at the MSTC exceeds the requirements for the national registry, each of the 1,500 active-duty medics stationed at JBLM automatically retain their certification - an important requirement for any medic.
Each combat medic is required to not only meet these educational requirements but also maintain any state-specific civilian certifications, such as an emergency medical technician license or basic lifesaver certification. If a Soldier fails to maintain these certifications, they are no longer qualified as combat medic.
Eggebroten still has to complete a series of specific tasks during a weeklong assignment in the Madigan emergency room before she is eligible to take the National Registry exam for state licensure.
Eggebroten said she was glad to be given the opportunity to attend the course and said it was a good experience.
"It's a good environment, I think everyone who's in this class really wants to be here," she said. "I think we are a tight knit group and we all help each other out."
Since the course started three years ago, out of the 73 Soldiers that have gone through the course and tested for the national registry, 52 have passed.
"The EMT-A course to me, as a medic and someone who has been through the course and instructed it, I think the best portion is getting the feel for why they do something and a better understanding of medicine in the body and what happens physiologically to somebody," said Staff Sgt. Derrick Queen, a health care specialist and EMT-A instructor with Headquarters, Headquarters Company, Madigan Army Medical Center. "It is not a requirement for their MOS so if they are EMT-A, not only are they more knowledgeable in the medical field and do better with patients but they will be able to teach other medics."
Queen said all of the current students were doing and that Eggebroten has a very good chance of achieving her goals.
"She seems to be doing well," said Queen. "She has been doing progressively better as she is going through the course. I think she will be one of our first time go on hands-on and at the national registry."