Thursday, March 26

A tip from me to them

paramedic school
"Them" in this post refers to anyone attending Paramedic school so they can "get hired" with the Fire Department.

I would like to let them in on a little known secret. At least a good deal of medics I work with now didn't know this nugget of truth. When you get a Paramedic license just to get on with the Fire Department...


More than once I have been approached by persons who are looking for a way to drop their Paramedic license, yet keep their jobs. I've been known to actually read the rule book and they expect me to know some magic loophole. Many of these folks took abbreviated courses designed to "get them in and get them out" so they could apply with the local FD and have a better chance of getting hired.

Turns out the FD is hiring Paramedics because they need Paramedics. I know it's hard to understand right now, but patient care will actually be an important part of your new job as a firefighter.

A Firefighter/Paramedic is a firefighter who has been specially trained to deal with the ever growing 80+% of our call volume. You are not just a firefighter.

Your brain needs to be all in on this decision, not just to get to the top of the applications pile. When I started down the road in this business I always knew I would end up as a Paramedic, I just never expected I would fight so hard to get the license and so proud to keep it. They don't call me "the Happy Fireman."

When I take an intern I try to find a philosophical match to myself. My last intern, when asked why he got into EMS, told me exactly the kind of thing I want to hear. He was in the Coast Guard and when they were going to board a ship everyone else would grab a gun and he would grab the first aid kit. He figured that curiosity about first aid could grow into something he could love, and it did. He wanted to be a Paramedic because he enjoyed being an EMT but got frustrated he couldn't do enough for his patients.

He is now a competent, confident Paramedic and we meet often to discuss his new career and interesting calls we both go on.

Another intern candidate told me he was in Paramedic school for the extra money at his firefighter job. I told him to get a side job doing something else, that the role of a Paramedic isn't just an extra salary, you have to want to be there. Nothing drives me crazy more than a Paramedic who wants to be something else.

So if you're considering taking a Paramedic course so you can get hired, think again. You just might save yourself and someone who needs a Paramedic a lot of time and effort.



Anonymous said...

It keeps getting banded around that the uk fire service will one day be co-responding along with the ambulance service to medical/trauma jobs. The fire unions have managed to keep this from happening so far but I think it is inevitable that one day we will merge, much like in the US. Various services has trialled co-responding for a short time which certainly helped our response times.
If it does ever happen, I hope to remain a paramedic first and foremost, always.
If it does ever happen, it's going to be an interesting time!!

Anonymous said...


Oh hi, me again. ^_^

One of my problems with fire EMS is that, yes, they expect you to be a paramedic after you get hired- until you get enough seniority to bid off.

As a result, you have thousands upon thousands of half-trained (as you alluded to) fire-medics stumbling their way through patient care, crossing off the days till they can bid, or until the next academy graduates, etc.

The patient doesn't know you're in their living room for no other reason than you can't contractually be somewhere else.

Me personally, I think that patient deserves someone who WANTS to be there. Who got their medic because they WANTED it, not because it's a meal ticket.

I also think that medic should be riding a truck owned by an agency that exists for the sole purpose of patient care. These fire departments in my area that devote 90% of their time, energy, equipment, money, and training towards 10% of what they do drive me absolutely insane. And it shows in the patient care (if you could call it that) performed by the 10% of the department that's doing 90% of the work.

Big Show said...

I really hate how people are starting to use EMS. Where I am from, the state pays for your EMT class and all your continuing education units. When I took my EMT class, it was class full of 16, 17, 18 year olds (like my self) who were taking it only to get into college. They were wasting $500 of the states money, never to go on an EMS call, and this was probably the only EMS education class that they were ever going to take, but oh wait, its ok, they were getting into college.

Bitter Blonde said...

To go with BigShow's post: Our illustrious city manager tried hiring some EMTs from the university held EMT class to fill ranks. Problem? When it came time to get them fire certified (at the expense of the city (don't ask)) no one wanted to do it. Turns out, they only wanted to be EMTs because . . . wait for it . . . "It looks really good on medical school applications." So consequently we had a bunch of wannabe doctors who thought they were House,had no people skills and didn't want to be there. Oh, and they can't man a truck.