Female EMS professional comforting a man

EMT Training: What to Expect on Your First “Third Ride”

Female EMS professional comforting a man

At some point in everyone’s EMT training, they’ll go on their traditional and all-important “third ride”. It’s called the third ride because as the third rider in the ambulance, you are along for what could be a very wild ride as well as the learning experience of your life. The two regular paramedics ride up front as per usual, while the student, the “third rider”, sits in the back of the ambulance observing, experiencing, and learning the realities of life as an EMT.

Like almost all first-timers, you’ll probably be pretty nervous. The crew you’re riding with can empathize as they were once first-timers as well, and they know exactly the tension and adrenaline you’re experiencing as you take your seat. Some crews may be understanding, empathetic, and accommodating, letting you just sit back and watch, while others may push you to take a more active role to help overcome your fears. After all, if this is what you want to be doing after you graduate, there’s no better way to learn it than by experiencing it firsthand.

It’s normal to be nervous, but it’s also important to remember that you are not alone. The crew is there to help in your training, the fire department is there, the police department is there—you have support and backup as you learn, but because the situations are real, qualified professionals are on hand. The pressure is not on you. As a student, you are there to experience, observe, participate when appropriate, and learn. This is not all on your shoulders, so you can relax. A bit.

The crew is there to do the vital job of being professional EMTs, but they will expect you to get involved. Standing around simply observing, is not only more of a hinderance than a help, but in the end, you won’t learn much; and if you’re not learning and you’re not helping, your presence is literally more of a danger than a help.

So, jump in! Be prepared to do exactly what you will be doing when you become a real EMT, you become a real EMT, because this is the real deal, and it’s your opportunity for real, valuable, firsthand experience.

Insider tip: As soon as you arrive at a scene, start taking vitals before anyone asks you. This type of pro-active awareness will go a long way towards impressing the medics you are with. While taking vitals, go ahead and alertly assess the rest of the scene. Listen to the paramedic conduct the patient interview as well as the patient’s answers. If the patient says something that you can act on, do so. For example, if they say they are having chest pain, you can start hooking them up to a monitor so the medic can run an EKG. You’ll be saving the medic’s time, getting real firsthand experience, and improving the quality of care for the patient. Don’t hesitate to get involved and do your best. That’s what a “Third Ride” is all about.

First-Hand Third Ride Experiences

Just as no two days are ever the same for EMTs, no two Third Rides are ever the same either. It’s smart to go in expecting the unexpected, but it’s also good to have some idea of what you might expect. Here’s an interesting blog that gives a firsthand account of one individual’s Third Ride experience, as well as their continuing experiences being on the instructional side of the Third Ride. Meanwhile, this forum provides helpful insights into what to expect on your first Third Ride, how to be prepared and how to behave.

Emergency Medical Technicians Evaluation

The Emergency Medical Technicians you are riding with will be evaluating you as you assist one another. These evaluations will be reported back to your EMT instructors, so if you want a great evaluation, ask your crew what they expect, and do that. Matching their level of intensity is a good way to impress them. Simply ask them at the beginning of your shift what level of involvement they want, and they’ll be happy to tell you, and happy you asked. It’s a great way to both improve your performance, while decreasing your nervousness as you will have opened up a clear and earnest conversation with your crew.

So, be eager to help, to do, to ask, to listen, and to learn. Most importantly, have enjoy this experience—you only get one First Ride, so make sure it’s a memorable one. This is a great opportunity and a major stepping stone in your EMT training. Enjoy it, and make the most of it. It will serve you very well in the future (especially when you’re driving the ambulance and you have our own third riders coming along).

About Unitek EMT

Unitek EMT is the premier EMT training provider in the United States. Our mission is simple: providing the finest training available for the next wave of EMT professionals. We offer a variety of training options to fit your needs. Unitek EMT’s instructors are experienced leaders in their fields, and our ultra-real-world training scenarios are ideal for both new and seasoned students, with training that covers all major aspects of emergency medical services.

Check out Unitek’s 14-day EMT crash courses today, and you could be on your way to saving lives in as little as two weeks.