T     E     S     T     I     M     O     N     I     A     L     S

       Becoming an EMT


       My name is Natali Ocampo.  I am twenty-four years old, and I am a licensed

Emergency Medical Technician.  Personally, I think this is a big accomplishment

to be able to say that.  Some people might not think so.  After all, it’s not a bachelor’s

degree.  I’m not a registered nurse; I’m not even a paramedic, but to me, it’s still a

big accomplishment. 

        I come from a family of healthcare workers.  My family has nurses, doctors,                    Testimony from

oral surgeons, presidents of hospitals, you name it. It’s a lot to live up to, but none                  former student :

the less, my accomplishment is a big accomplishment, and it’s a big accomplishment             Natali Ocampo

I couldn’t have achieved on my own.

        Why is this accomplishment so big to me?  I have cousins going through college, masters programs, law schools and medical schools.  Yet here I am, at 24 years old, just now graduating a trade school.  I’ve learned that you can’t just look at it like that.  You can’t compare just one segment of your life to others and expect to ever feel good about yourself.  I have to remind myself of that every day.  I am happy with my accomplishments because it’s so much more than just “graduating a trade school.”  They might not see it that way, but I do.

        I went through a lot to get here.  I attended Texas A&M University for two years.  I’ve been in the United States Army, worked at bars, managed restaurants, and even sold cars for a bit.  Nothing ever seemed to quite work out for me, and I would compare myself to my peers and see their success and only get more discouraged.  Through the years I’ve realized that some people just need a little more help than others, and I just so happen to be one of those people.  The issue was that I had been trying to fight my clinical depression and alcoholism on my own.  Believe me, I could write a book on this part of my life, but I’ll spare you the sob story and cut straight to the chase.  With the help of some friends and family, I moved from Texas to California in 2016 in order to start a mental health and addiction rehabilitation program.  Once I finished the program, I felt better than ever.  The only issue was that I was 23 with no job and no way to pay for school.

        That’s when the Inland Empire Healthcare Training Institute entered my life.  I happened to stumble across their website shortly after becoming interested in a career in healthcare.  Like I mentioned before, I’d done a few years of university and needless to say, I didn’t do too great.  I felt better after my program, but I was still terrified of the idea of going back to school.  I wanted a class sizes small enough to be able to focus on its students, and that’s exactly what I found with the IEHTI. 

        I called the school and soon found out that they worked closely with San Bernardino County and were providers of the Workforce Innovative Opportunity Act (or WIOA).  They told me that because of the barriers I had faced, I qualified for their full scholarship under the Youth WIOA program.  It was a scholarship that not only covered the cost of the class, but offered counselling, incentives, and stipends to help cover other costs while trying to get back in the workforce – for two years!

        The program was too good to be true, I thought.  It was so great that I was considerably skeptical when I went to the orientation.  I kept waiting for a hidden fee or some sort of catch, but it never came.  It was just as they said it would be.  It was a nonprofit school with staff members truly dedicated to recognizing the needs of each of its students.  The IEHTI covered the cost of my class, the cost of my uniform, books, some school supplies, and also offered monthly one on one counselling sessions with their case workers to talk more about my progress with my therapy and addiction management.  They offered many solutions for different barriers students experienced (for instance, bus passes, gas cards, and even a bicycle when students had no other way of getting to class).

        With the amazing support of the staff, and the new found support of my fellow students, I was able to not only graduate, but finish as the Class President and ended up as the top of my graduating class. In the Great State of California, becoming an EMT is, unfortunately, a lot more complicated than just passing a class, but the IEHTI was with me every step of the way.  I had to take the National Registry exam for EMTs, I had to get LiveScan finger printed, get a state EMT license, get an ambulance license, pass a Department of Transportation physical, get a 10 year driving record from the DMV all before being able to get hired as an EMT.  It wasn’t only a long process, but it was considerably pricier than I would have expected.  However, shortly after graduating, the school offered me a paid internship and continued to offer me the counselling and incentives from my scholarship.  I most definitely wouldn’t have been able to do it all without the help of my school. 

        So here I am, a licensed EMT-B, and I am proud to say that just last week I was offered a position at an ambulance company as an Emergency Medical Technician.  I am ready to finally enter into a career, rather than odd jobs here and there, and I look forward to continue down this path.  Becoming an EMT has opened so many doors, and from here, the sky’s the limit.


-Natali Ocampo, EMT

© 2017 Inland Empire Healthcare Training Institute