EMS Week

It was a wonderful EMS week full of goodies! : ) Now it’s time to get out there and thank your veterans for your freedom! This holiday wasn’t free!

As you know, I hate being called an “ambulance driver” and there are many people that don’t know much about EMT’s and Paramedic’s. It’s ok if you don’t know, but please do not call us ambulance drivers. The picture pretty much sums up what we are.

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Could You Comprehend?

I wish you could comprehend a wife’s horror at 3:00 in the morning as I check her husband of forty years for a pulse and find none . . . I start CPR anyway, hoping to bring him back knowing intuitively it is too late but wanting his wife and family to know everything possible was done to try to save his life. I wish you could understand how it feels to go to work in the morning after having spent most of the night, out on jobs. I wish you could know my thoughts as I help extricate a teenage girl from the remains of her automobile. “What if this was my sister or a friend?” “What are her parents’ reactions going to be when they open the door to find a police officer with hat in hand?” I wish you could feel the hurt as people verbally and sometimes physically abuse us or belittle what we do or as they express their attitudes of “It will never happen to me.” I wish you could realize the physical, emotional and mental drain of missed meals, lost sleep and forgone social activities in addition to all the tragedy my eyes have seen. I wish you could know the brotherhood and self-satisfaction of having saved a life or being able to be there in time of crisis. I wish you could understand what it feels like to have a little boy tugging at your arm asking, “Is Mommy okay?” not even being able to look in his eyes without tears from your own and not knowing what to say. Unless you have lived with this kind of life you will never truly understand or appreciate who I am, who we are, or what our job really means to us …I wish you could though.

What Do You Make?

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I couldn’t have said it better myself! I’m not in this business to make money, because we are one of the lowest paid professions out there. Did you know that over 75% of America relies on VOLUNTEER firefighters?? These people, like me, risk their lives for NOTHING! Zero pay! I work on an ambulance, that’s how I make money to pay bills to continue schooling so I can VOLUNTEER as a firefighter. I bet you didn’t know that 96% of EMT’s cannot pay their bills off their single full time job? They require another one or more jobs to make a living. When I find that webpage again, I will put the link here. (Unable to locate it, however for lots of information about this career visit EMS World Magazine. This is great information for us! But good for the public to read and understand too! Just one of MANY magazines out there.)

To pay my bills, I’m working 4 regular jobs and any side jobs I can. I work on two different ambulance services, I teach at one local college and about to start teaching at another, I teach CPR/First Aid for a friends business, I volunteer in that free time I have with my local fire department, AND I do whatever I can for money on the side of all of that.

But none of it has to do with the money. I love working on the ambulance and firetrucks love holding grandmas hand and listening to her when she calls 911 just for someone to visit. I love listing to grandpas war stories and his childhood. I love listening about your kids while I try to calm you. I love saving your life, even if it’s just by talking to you or listening. I will give my life for someone I’ve never met, I determined that the day I signed up for my first class.

I love teaching too, I love sharing my small amount of knowledge with new people trying to get in this career. I love helping people learn. I love watching them grow. I want to help them become better at their career, not only with their hands on skills, but their people skills as well. I want them to know that it’s not about giving drugs all the time, it’s about the patients mental needs too. Maybe they just need someone to talk to, in fact most the time that’s why you’re taking an elder patient to the hospital. Strictly because their family doesn’t visit, they get lonely and just need an ear.

Listen to them! You will hear some incredible stories. I promise.

I love my career! The only thing I hope to change about it, is to gain more respect for our field all around. The next time you hear those “annoying sirens” or don’t pull over for us, just remember what you would want people to do if you need us. Too many people complain that we cause more traffic and problems running lights and sirens, but when you need us you want to know what took so long. Did you PULL OVER AND STOP the last time an ambulance came up behind you? Or did you try to out run it?

Students

I’m not sure what the deal is, but for some reason I always end up with the lazy students. When I say lazy, I mean not only will they not help with chores, they won’t do anything on the calls and I had one student downright refuse to call the hospital. “I don’t like calling in reports.” My response? Get over it! I’m sorry, but you’re about to test for your medic license. What are you going to do when you become a paramedic and are the only one in the back, just not call the hospital?? Negative!

If her goal was to become an “ambulance driver” (as some people refer to us), then going for a medic license failed her in that goal. Believe it or not, there are some departments (boarding one of my jobs) that hire “ambulance drivers.” You require zero medical training for this position, not even a first responder license, you strictly drive the truck. What fun…not! However we do have an employee at one of my job that wants to do just that, drive the ambulance only, I should refer her. She’s horrible with her EMT skills and just applied for medic school. I’m sorry, if you’re EMT skills are that shitty, you’re really going to be a horrible medic.

I was one of the rare students in my paramedic class that actually has a job in the field and had for a while. In fact, only 2 other people in my paramedic class worked/or ever have worked on an ambulance, and I can tell you…it showed! It showed in class, it showed during clinicals, it showed on the ride time…it was horrible. Too many students go straight through and too many schools let them.

Once class was over and we all finally managed to get our license, only 4 of us have jobs. Out of those 4, ONE got a job after medic school with zero ambulance experience. 16 of us completed class and 4 have jobs. The other students are complaining they can’t get/find a job and won’t listen to me when I tell them it’s because they went straight through class.

Back to being a student, I don’t know about anyone else out there but we weren’t allowed computers, no sitting down, no couches or recliners, and you ALWAYS helped with chores. When there was down time, you spent it studying not playing computer games. Schools have rules of what you can/can’t do and I know these kids would be in real trouble if their teacher showed up but it’s more than that. It’s about being respectful and doing the right thing. Are people not taught that these days?

Saving a Life

Another wonderful day of work, another day of saving a life…or something like that. Today I will be preventing the loss of life during CPR class. Part of being in our field means you better like teaching because you will be doing a lot of it! I help teach EMT class at a local college and enjoy that so my boss decided to make me a CPR instructor too.

Being a CPR instructor can be frustrating at times, especially during my time of teaching EMT class. Per the college, you are now required to have a CPR/AED card before you enter class and I think this was the WORST decision the college could have ever made! Part of getting your EMT licenses requires you to take a physcial skills test, which is a random draw on what skills you have to demenstrate. One of those possible skills that can be drawn is CPR/AED which means you have to be able to properly demonstrate that you can do CPR and use an AED…what a disappointment the students were.

Now, I am a very patient person and LOVE teaching students, but if you already have a CPR/AED card that says you know how to do it, then you BETTER be able to demonstrate how to do it and NOT ONE student could! I have never been so dissapointed before that I can ever remember. Not a single student could use the AED, which tells you EXACTLY what to do when you turn it on! And no one was able to demonstrate CPR either, another major disappointment.

You would think that given our field and fact that you WILL be dispatched to a cardiac arresst at some point then you would actually know this skill! It’s like we say about going to ccourt, “it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.” You will have to do CPR at some point, so you might want to pay attention in the class. After a few days with me, every student was finally able to do CPR and use an AED and that skill was pulled for them to test. I am proud to say that every student passed.

So today I am off to teach CPR to the publc so they can better assist anyone in need. If you want the safest place to live or be in the United States, go to Seattle, Washington. They have AED’s all over and just about the entire city has been trained on CPR at some point. This city was chosen to be the test subject for AED’s making them one of the safest places too live in this country of ours.

I encourage all of you to get out there and learn CPR. Take a class! Stay on top of your skill! You never know when you may need to help save a life and believe me, it’s the best feeling in the world! Will you know what to do?