My responses are only from my personal experience. To answer your questions:
â€¢ By law, you are entitled to a break, but amount and timing varies based on your state labor laws. I recommend looking into this. I've worked in places where these rules are not always followed. Where I work now (in Washington state), we consistently receive breaks in the appropriate amount of time. Your schedule will vary during the day so it's hard to tell when you might be able to squeeze in your own break. Some surgeries (or "cases" as we call them) may only last 15-30 minutes, while some could last (although rare) 12 hours or more. It depends on the facility and the speciality.
â€¢ The surgical techs I have worked with in the past completed their degree prior to employment. Receiving your certification is recommended and will make you more marketable.
â€¢ Your direct patient care will be limited to only the OR. You may have the opportunity to help before induction, but your main focus during this time will be your set up and preparation. After surgery, unless you're required to stay sterile (which is the policy at some facilities) you might be able to help but mostly under the direction of the circulator and the Anesthesiologist or CRNA.
â€¢ Emergency surgeries are inevitable even if you don't work at a trauma center. For example, something as simple as a tonsillectomy can result in a hemorrhage and an emergency return to the OR. It's something that you should prepare for and expect.
Hope that helps!