It All Started with an ASM Class
By Paul Callahan, NRAEMT
It all started with an ASM class.
Way back in 2007, I was asked to be a Road Captain with the Milwaukee HOG Chapter. As part of that process, I was supposed to take something called Bystander Assistance from some organization called Accident Scene Management. It was offered at the dealership and taught by a chapter member who was a Paramedic, and assisted by his Firefighter/EMT son. SO, as a rookie RC who wanted to help the chapter, I leapt at the chance. I spent an entire weekend in a Basic class on Saturday, and the Advanced class on Sunday, at the House of Harley-Davidson in Greenfield, WI. It was a class with a lot of different people with lots of varied reasons for being there. As a new rider (2 years at that point) I learned a lot from my classmates, as well as the Instructors. Just a side note; that Lead Instructor was Russel Spahn. Russ was the Greenfield Fire Chief who went on to be the Associate Dean of Protective Services at MATC (Milwaukee Area Technical College) where he oversaw Police, Fire, and EMS education and training.
The Bystander Assistance classes were packed with information. It was like drinking from a fire hose for me. With no medical, law enforcement, or EMS background at all I enjoyed every minute of it. To this day, I remember how it felt to learn so much in so little time. That feeling is what drives me today to make sure my students understand what I am teaching. Everyone has a different learning style, and it is important to make sure the message is getting across in a way the student can understand and remember. If not, I feel it is a teaching failure on my part. Regardless of the subject matter I am teaching, I want to make sure the message is getting through.
A year or so later I became the Chapter Safety Officer. I was handed a flash drive with some presentations and told to go teach classes. I was now responsible for the Group Riding Class that was taught several times a year, without having taken the class. I thought back to how the ASM classes were taught. I tried to emulate those techniques and also updated and modified the PowerPoint presentation. It was a lot of work but it was successful! Almost every chapter member has attended at least one class, and many have come several times. It sparked my love for teaching.
As time went on I maintained my certification by taking an ASM refresher class every 2 years, either in person or online. As I went through these classes I began to feel like I needed more. More training, more knowledge, a greater ability to effectively treat a fellow biker after an accident. It wasn’t until 2015 that I decided I needed to take a class at the basic level of EMS and become an Emergency Medical Responder, EMR. I searched for a class I could take and was unsuccessful, the only one I could find kept getting cancelled.
I kept looking and found the EMT program at MATC. It was a one semester class for 5 credits, and I could take the class during the day, so I signed up for the fall semester at MATC-Mequon. At that time I was a partner/owner in an employee benefits brokerage/consulting firm and had the luxury of setting my own hours. At last, I would be gaining the knowledge that would allow me to have a greater impact, helping a fellow biker who was injured. In the back of my mind was the unique requirement to be at least an EMT to teach ASM classes.
The first day of the class, as we introduced ourselves, it was readily apparent I was old enough to be a parent to almost the entire class. In fact, I had graduated from college before most of them were born. While they all had tremendous energy and enthusiasm, I had life experience. It turned out to be a great combination as I was able to mentor some of them through the class and they were my inspiration. No twenty something was going to outwork this 58-year-old (at the time). 11 of the original 23 students passed the class, and the National Registry of EMTS written and practical exams. By January 2016, we were 11 brand new Emergency Medical Technicians.
After spending a couple of months in Florida and gaining my EMT license there, we returned to Wisconsin and I went to work part time for an ambulance service in Milwaukee and for Elm Grove EMS, while still working in my firm. 2016 was a pivotal year for me as I was growing increasingly tired of my business (after 37 years) and more entranced with EMS. I made the decision to retire at the end of the year. I was going to find my fulfillment in helping people who were sick or injured through EMS.
The other factor that played into this decision was the chance to now become a Lead Instructor for ASM classes. In early 2017 I went through training with the founder of ASM, Vicki Sanfelipo, who I had known for years and was privileged to become a new Lead Instructor. I also became an instructor for American Heart Association, American Red Cross, and Stop the Bleed to add to my credentials as a Verbal Defense & Influence Instructor. I discovered a love for training people in a wide variety of disciplines. I started a training company that teaches all the above and added Concealed Carry & Home Defense from the USCCA, ALICE Institute Active Shooter survival training, the National Association of EMT’s First On The Scene training, and recently I became a Certified DOT EVOC trainer (Emergency Vehicle Operator Course). And, just to show old dogs CAN learn new tricks, at the age of 65 I enrolled in the 2022 Fall semester Advanced EMT class at MATC. As of November 2022, I officially became an Advanced EMT. After 6 years as an evaluator at the NREMT Practical Exam at MATC, I accepted a position as an Adjunct Instructor in EMS to help train the next generation of EMTs.
So yes, it all started with an ASM class. Because I took that class I found a passion for helping people who are sick or injured, and a passion for teaching others how to do the same. Without that little opening into the wide world of EMS and EMS education, who knows where I would be now. It’s funny how a little thing like taking a class because you are “supposed to” can lead to life changing results down the line. Vicki has been an awesome mentor and friend throughout this journey. Her experience, knowledge, and ongoing encouragement, as well as her friendship are a big reason I am doing what I love to do. Never stop learning, never stop teaching, never say you are too old.
Paul B. Callahan, NRAEMT
AHA & ARC CPR/AED/1st?Aid Instructor
ASMI Bystander Assistance Lead Instructor
ALICE Instructor # 8U95G6C3
Bleeding Control Instructor # 15894
MATC Adjunct EMS Faculty
NAEMT F.O.T.S. Instructor #10401
USCCA Certified Handgun Instructor & RSO #1427927
USDOT EVOC Instructor #112219
Verbal Defense & Influence Instructor