11 June 2009

Why are YOU here?

What is the reason you got into EMS? I ask most new EMT and Paramedic students this question. I really want to know the motivation behind their entry to this profession.

Me? I wanted a career change. Like most people I thought EMS would be a 24/7 adrenaline rush. Saving lives and gathering praise from the families of the patients. I had been in the fire service as a volunteer for nine years before committing to my EMS education. Firefighter are always getting positive attention (unlike police officers), they have the public fooled, kids of all ages, races and sizes want to be a firefighter at some point in their life.

No one says "I want to work on a ambulance when I grow up". During my EMT class we all thought our future jobs would be similar to a firefighter, saving lives. My first job was with the fire department, we ran in a tiered system with third party EMS. I did not work on an ambulance until a few years later.

My paramedic friend convinced me to apply for part time work with a private service ambulance company. The government EMS service had just gone through a merger and my new job was covering trucks for the local 911 service. Just like the fire department we made only 911 calls. I learned a lot, including how to get to all the area hospitals. Eventually the city got their act together and no longer needed private service to cover for them. Being an EMT-B I was sent to a BLS transport truck. This began my true education in EMS. Gone were the days of driving with lights and sirens, rapid assessment of patients and having a paramedic to do all of the paperwork. Gomers and Chuck runs are all I saw for a few months with the occasional stint with a part-time paramedic.

I left that company, they treated EMT's like dirt and were not afraid to tell you exactly that (in fewer words). I went the second largest private ambulance service in my area and worked there part-time. I am still working for the F & B ambulance company as a part-time paramedic. I wish I could say that the EMTs and Medics are treated the same, but you know that is not the case. EMT's are still dirt and medics are a precious resource (unless there are six medics, then you are just meat in the seat). I try not to use this to my advantage or abuse my status. F & B actually fired a part-time medic recently for several reasons, but mostly he was an arrogant jerk and actually told a facility that they would never fire him, because he was a medic.

I advocate for the patient. We have older ambulances and sometimes things break. I try to return only when it is a safety issue or it would interfere with patient care (like the A/C in the patient compartment not working on hot days). I enjoy working the streets and helping new EMT's (and not so new) learn how to properly assess a patient, take vital signs, lift with their legs and improve their bedside manor. I remember being the Basic who always had to take all the runs and the medic just wanted to drive (lazy medics, we all know some) no matter the patient condition.

I am here to help. The patient, my partner and the company I work for (in that order mind you). I like what I do and I wish others (general public, government officials, allied health care providers) would respect my career choice and treat us all like the professionals we are.

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