As he sits in the central nursing hub of Lompoc Valley Medical Center's (LVMC) Critical Care Unit (CCU), the hands of Telemetry Technician Vince Moya never stop moving. Moya is seated between two computer screens, each listing names of patients and critical medical information such as cardiac rhythm, blood pressure, oxygen saturation level and more.
His fingers fly across the screens, pressing buttons and watching for significant changes in the readings, or the sounding of alarms. His head is on a constant swivel between the two screens.
For Moya, the role is a new one, after 33 years as a paramedic in Santa Maria, the Bay Area and Lompoc. Since December, he’s worked 12-hour shifts in CCU as a telemetry tech.
In that job, he monitors and interprets cardiac rhythms of patients hooked up to telemetric equipment, informing nurses of any changes. He’s also in charge of ensuring the machinery’s alarms are working correctly and knowing what to do in the event of an abnormality.
A 1977 graduate of Lompoc High School, Moya became a paramedic in 1984. “When I got out of high school, my thoughts were to be in the forest service,” Moya recalls. “I did one year of conservation work in the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps).”
Having learned CPR in the CCC, he then joined Search and Rescue and earned his advanced First Aid certificate before becoming an emergency medical technician. He then attended paramedic school. “I liked the challenge of going into chaos and making sense of it,” he says. “You’re dealing with critically ill people. I enjoy that challenge. I excel in that kind of environment.”
The medical field attracted him, he added, because he feels he is compassionate and enjoys helping people. “I like the challenge of making a difference in people’s lives,” says Moya, whose mother owned Jo Ann’s Fine Candies and Cakes in Lompoc for 36 years.
Most people burn out after a few years of being a paramedic, he says, but he was a dinosaur who kept with it for more than three decades. “I’d still be doing it,” the 58-year-old admits. “But as I get older, I have to be realistic. This opportunity came up to come inside and I took it. It’s different. It’s more cerebral. I’m constantly having to watch monitors and interact with my computer and people. It’s been kind of different.”
After awhile, he said, he could almost do his job with his eyes closed. The nature of the position meant that he would be working on an emergency call for maybe 30 minutes to an hour. As a Telemetry Technician, the activity is constant. Doctors and nurses base their treatment on the heart rhythms, so accuracy is essential.
“Everything has set parameters,” he says of the technology. “Most of the time it’s tracking patient movement. When they set off the alarm, you have to know is it real or not? You have to be able to know the difference. The cable could be pulled off, but it could be the real thing. That’s why I’m here.”
He also has an obligation to know information about the medical history of the patient, he explains. He reads charts, to have a better understanding of issues that might arise. “With EMS, I had one patient,” he says. “Here, I could see 12 patients.” He said he has enjoyed working in Critical Care.
“I enjoy the camaraderie and professionalism everyone exhibits here,” Moya says.