Savanna Fatony is an EMT who’s never worked in an ambulance or a hospital. “What I do is a little strange and somewhat unheard of in the EMS world,” explains Fatony, a former U.S. Army combat medic. Fatony has spent the past two years employed as a health and safety medical technician for Amphibious Medics, a company that provides occupational health and wellness services on construction sites and in industrial settings. Her current assignment is on a large construction site in Nashville, Tennessee.
“People are definitely confused when I tell them about my job,” Fatony says. “When I say I work on a construction site, they say, ‘Wait, I thought you were an EMT, are you working construction now?’ and I explain that I’m an EMT who works as an onsite medic.”
A DAY IN THE LIFE
In some ways, Fatony’s job looks like that of most other EMTs or paramedics. She typically arrives before the sun comes up and makes sure all of her equipment is working properly and is ready to go.
She also frequently walks the construction site, making sure she understands the current layout. Fatony has to know how to quickly get to people who need help, whether they are digging a hole or on the 12th floor, and access routes that were available the day before might not be there when she needs them.
“It’s crazy; maybe there is an elevator or a set of stairs one place one day, and the next day it’s barricaded off —totally inaccessible.”
In addition to helping her prepare to respond to emergencies, the site walks also serve as an opportunity for Fatony to prevent accidents before they happen. “I might remind a guy who’s working on live wires to put on his PPE,” she says, “or ask someone else, ‘Where’s your hard hat?’”
Prevention is a major component of Fatony’s job—she also performs “health and wellness” checks for employees, which include blood pressure monitoring and cholesterol and glucose tests, and talking about lifting techniques and the importance of hydration. For some clients, Fatony might also handle things like drug testing, breathalizers for alcohol detection or tetanus immunizations.
That’s not to say things don’t get pretty hectic. “If I receive a call on the phone or radio, I drop whatever I am doing and rush to the scene to provide whatever medical care is required,” she says. “I always carry an aid bag with all of my supplies as well as an AED to eliminate delayed response.”
TRUE TEST OF CONFIDENCE
When major incidents occur, they often test not only Fatony’s medical capabilities but also her communication and scene management skills. Last
year, she says, a worker suffered a crush injury and she responded.
“The site area was very populated so I had to quickly treat the individual while instructing others to clear the area for privacy and emergency response vehicles,” she says. “I had to stay calm and ignore bystanders who were yelling at me to perform certain tasks that would have caused severe damage to the employee’s health, specifically the c-spine. It was a true test of my confidence.” After emergency vehicles arrived, Fatony was thanked by the paramedics for doing exactly what was needed to stabilize the patient and get him to the hospital safely.
“When working this job, you are the go-to person for hundreds of people. I’m the only medic,” she says. “It was daunting at first, but it’s proven to be a source of pride. I’m constantly thanked and reminded of how important my job is—not only to the company hiring us—but to every single person who enters the jobsite.”