Am I getting fired?

sunshine girl

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Hi there.
I’m a new EMT seeking some advice about problems with my FTO training. I was sent home by my FTO today (shift 10 of training) after my first call due to repetitive issues with several things. The main issue seems to be problems with my driving; my situational awareness has been poor and mistakes I’ve made have been:

A. Starting to drive with side door open, receiving corrections, and then making the same mistake two more times

B. Not slowing down enough in anticipation of red lights while driving code 3, twice

C. Not Choosing the quickest route to the hospital, yesterday + today

D. Making random errors such as forgetting to make sure the glucometer had been cleaned by previous crew, forgetting to check my lights during morning checkout, struggling with 12 lead, and putting the pulse O2 on upside down.

E. Retention of information & making the same mistakes more than once.


After receiving harsh criticism from my FTO I became visibly upset (quiet tears), and she decided to send me home. She says she has contacted CES and I may be getting fired. So, my questions are as follows:

Am I getting fired?

She gave a very vague response about it not being up to her when I asked her this, so I’m thinking it might just be what the FTOs say since they aren’t the ones who officially pull the plug on their trainees. Part of me hopes I’m just going to be sat down with management and given a serious talk, but this option seems more unlikely the more I think about it. I will say though that during the entire training I’ve been very humble and receptive to criticism and she says I have a great attitude, patient rapport, seem eager to learn, and she can tell I’m trying hard, so it hasn’t been only criticisms.


So basically things aren’t looking good. Any guidance, personal experiences, thoughts, and advice on what my next move should be if I am indeed fired would be enormously appreciated. Please be gentle with your words as I’m already feeling very down on myself right now.


Sincerely,


A sad, humiliated, self critical, teenage EMT.
 

DesertMedic66

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It’s all going to depend on your company’s process for new hire training.

For example at my company you would likely have a sit down with management/CES to help figure out what is going on. From there you would be placed with a new FTO and start your time over to make sure that FTO wasn’t being unreasonable.
 

mgr22

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Did your FTO tell you that you may be getting fired, or is it just something you're wondering? If it's the latter, given the other, more positive feedback you've received, I'm guessing they'll counsel you and give you another chance. It's much harder to teach someone people skills than the things you've been having trouble with.

I think you should feel free to contact your employer and ask about your status.
 

Foxem

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Like DesertMedic said, it all depends on your company. I'm pretty new as well, and I struggled with B & C the most. My situational awareness was poor at first, but its something you'll get better with in time. If you get a chance to do it over again, you'll have to prioritize to remember all the things. What helped me was making a routine. Start of shift, make a list of everything you need to do. Then every time after, go through the list. That way its impossible to forget if you do something. At the start of every transport, walk by the passenger door and walk clockwise around the rig and make sure every door is closed. Reset the odometer before you get out to go on scene. If you're going code 2 to the hospital, make sure the lights are off. Its hard to tell if they're off in the day unless you actually look. In regards to hospital routing, you'll just need get practice with that. What helped me was knowing where traffic was during what time of day, as well as knowing what the shortest mileage was depending on where I am. Sometimes the shortest way to the hospital isn't necessarily the quickest. For example, when school was getting out, I would completely avoid that area so the soccer moms wouldn't block my route. As for the lights, that might be an issue of how fast you're going. Talk to your medic. For a lot of the calls, going 10 miles over the speed limit isn't a mandatory thing. Sometimes going just the speed limit whilst driving code, or sometimes slightly below it can help immensely. Its all a case by case situation. I received incredibly harsh criticism from my FTO. He would stand outside the rig while I was in the back doing the EMT stuffs and talk to the firemen/cops about how poorly I was doing and I wasn't cut out for it. I understand why he did it now. He was trying to get in my head and make things way more stressful for me. He'd lean through the little window and curse me out for stopping to hard (Which I absolutely deserved by the way). That way when an actual stressful time came, it would be easy. And he was right. First real critical call I handled like a champ. He wasn't just trying to be a mean guy. Now he's one of my best friends at work.

Remember to just breathe. Take a few deep breaths whenever you need to. Before a call, during a call, after a call. I had that advice drilled into me. Everyone started somewhere. Keep your chin up. I would go home feeling really sad almost every day. Now after each shift I genuinely feel good. I was in your shoes; a brand new teenage EMT. I would overthink things and be harsh on myself. My FTO said the same things about me. 3 months later and I laugh at the dumb things I used to do, while still keeping an open mind about the dumb things I do now. You can do it. If not with that ambulance company, then another. There are plenty of EMT job opportunities. Be patient and don't expect the worst. There's always room for growth.
 
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sunshine girl

Forum Probie
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Did your FTO tell you that you may be getting fired, or is it just something you're wondering? If it's the latter, given the other, more positive feedback you've received, I'm guessing they'll counsel you and give you another chance. It's much harder to teach someone people skills than the things you've been having trouble with.

I think you should feel free to contact your employer and ask about your status.
I don’t remember her exact wording, but when I was taken back to station today I asked her outright if I was getting fired and she said something along the lines of “that will be up to CES.” :(
 
OP
OP
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sunshine girl

Forum Probie
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3
Like DesertMedic said, it all depends on your company. I'm pretty new as well, and I struggled with B & C the most. My situational awareness was poor at first, but its something you'll get better with in time. If you get a chance to do it over again, you'll have to prioritize to remember all the things. What helped me was making a routine. Start of shift, make a list of everything you need to do. Then every time after, go through the list. That way its impossible to forget if you do something. At the start of every transport, walk by the passenger door and walk clockwise around the rig and make sure every door is closed. Reset the odometer before you get out to go on scene. If you're going code 2 to the hospital, make sure the lights are off. Its hard to tell if they're off in the day unless you actually look. In regards to hospital routing, you'll just need get practice with that. What helped me was knowing where traffic was during what time of day, as well as knowing what the shortest mileage was depending on where I am. Sometimes the shortest way to the hospital isn't necessarily the quickest. For example, when school was getting out, I would completely avoid that area so the soccer moms wouldn't block my route. As for the lights, that might be an issue of how fast you're going. Talk to your medic. For a lot of the calls, going 10 miles over the speed limit isn't a mandatory thing. Sometimes going just the speed limit whilst driving code, or sometimes slightly below it can help immensely. Its all a case by case situation. I received incredibly harsh criticism from my FTO. He would stand outside the rig while I was in the back doing the EMT stuffs and talk to the firemen/cops about how poorly I was doing and I wasn't cut out for it. I understand why he did it now. He was trying to get in my head and make things way more stressful for me. He'd lean through the little window and curse me out for stopping to hard (Which I absolutely deserved by the way). That way when an actual stressful time came, it would be easy. And he was right. First real critical call I handled like a champ. He wasn't just trying to be a mean guy. Now he's one of my best friends at work.

Remember to just breathe. Take a few deep breaths whenever you need to. Before a call, during a call, after a call. I had that advice drilled into me. Everyone started somewhere. Keep your chin up. I would go home feeling really sad almost every day. Now after each shift I genuinely feel good. I was in your shoes; a brand new teenage EMT. I would overthink things and be harsh on myself. My FTO said the same things about me. 3 months later and I laugh at the dumb things I used to do, while still keeping an open mind about the dumb things I do now. You can do it. If not with that ambulance company, then another. There are plenty of EMT job opportunities. Be patient and don't expect the worst. There's always room for growth.
Thank you for taking the time to write all of that out. That’s really great advice and I like what you said about implementing a daily routine. Hopefully they give me another chance to put your advice to use because I really do want this.
 

E tank

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You're a teenager? Like how much of a teenager? Hard to give yourself a break when no one else is, but, sheesh, if you're working as a BLS provider in a 911 system, you're at least in the 5th percentile of initiative and ambition for "teenagers". Don't know how old you are but I'd hope your service would take your age into consideration and look at you through their "into the future" goggles. Heck, you won't be done growing into yourself until at least your mid 20's.

Hang in there kid...you'll be OK
 
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sunshine girl

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You're a teenager? Like how much of a teenager? Hard to give yourself a break when no one else is, but, sheesh, if you're working as a BLS provider in a 911 system, you're at least in the 5th percentile of initiative and ambition for "teenagers". Don't know how old you are but I'd hope your service would take your age into consideration and look at you through their "into the future" goggles. Heck, you won't be done growing into yourself until at least your mid 20's.

Hang in there kid...you'll be OK
I’m nineteen, but certified immediately after my 18th birthday, so this isn’t a new field for me. I hold myself to the same standard as everyone else and I know my FTO does too... if anything, I should be ahead of other trainees because I have six months of IFT experience that preceded this job.
 

Lo2w

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Is there a chance you could ask for a training day outside of a normal shift? Especially with the driving aspect, could they get a spare truck and have an FTO just spend a day driving around with you, working on routes, driving etc. Get a map book of your area and just spend some time studying it. I think quickest route isn't something that should be picked over too much...as others said its all in context of time of day and traffic patterns. On non-emergent, I've probably gone the scenic routes to get smoother streets of I know the complaint or injury isn't going to tolerate a bumpier route.

What's the issue with the 12 lead? Is it finding the lead locations? Or just struggling with the wires? I pop mine on the stickers in order v1-v5 and the last on the extra left from the limb leads. The extra second or so that takes helps me just zip them right on vs. Trying to find them all.
 
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sunshine girl

Forum Probie
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Is there a chance you could ask for a training day outside of a normal shift? Especially with the driving aspect, could they get a spare truck and have an FTO just spend a day driving around with you, working on routes, driving etc. Get a map book of your area and just spend some time studying it. I think quickest route isn't something that should be picked over too much...as others said its all in context of time of day and traffic patterns. On non-emergent, I've probably gone the scenic routes to get smoother streets of I know the complaint or injury isn't going to tolerate a bumpier route.

What's the issue with the 12 lead? Is it finding the lead locations? Or just struggling with the wires? I pop mine on the stickers in order v1-v5 and the last on the extra left from the limb leads. The extra second or so that takes helps me just zip them right on vs. Trying to find them all.
With finding routes I think the problem is that my knowledge of the city wasn’t strong enough to pick out the best route to take, so she isn’t confident in my abilities without her. And with the 12 lead as well as other mistakes, it was an issue of having seen it done multiple times and still needing prompting to wipe + shave the chest and wait for artifact to go away before taking it. Speed was a big one too. Mainly I’m just not retaining knowledge of the corrections I’ve been getting and it’s really hindered my training.
 

Lo2w

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With finding routes I think the problem is that my knowledge of the city wasn’t strong enough to pick out the best route to take, so she isn’t confident in my abilities without her. And with the 12 lead as well as other mistakes, it was an issue of having seen it done multiple times and still needing prompting to wipe + shave the chest and wait for artifact to go away before taking it. Speed was a big one too. Mainly I’m just not retaining knowledge of the corrections I’ve been getting and it’s really hindered my training.

As far as routing it comes with practice. I moved to take my job and had to relearn an entire city. I still goof here and there. The dirty secret is that its not a big deal once you get past the FTO time - your partner is there to help you navigate, you can use your GPS to double check yourself or verify with your partner when you go to take off.
 

mgr22

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I don’t remember her exact wording, but when I was taken back to station today I asked her outright if I was getting fired and she said something along the lines of “that will be up to CES.” :(

I remember coming close to flunking out of school at 19, and how badly that made me feel. These things are pretty much out of our hands right before others make decisions about our futures. We hope for second chances, but we don't always get them. I wish I could give you a specific way out, but I can't. What I can tell you is that it's possible to accept adversity and take a different route to a fulfilling career. Maybe that'll still be EMS for you, maybe not. You can't just push a button and immediately address whatever weaknesses you have, so try focusing on your strengths. Look for opportunities to show them off -- even as a volunteer -- so that you start to build a reputation as the kind of person others would want to hire: a considerate, conscientious, sensible, dependable person. Give yourself months or years instead of days or weeks to make a fresh start. I think you'll do a better job of resolving the weaknesses after establishing the strengths.
 

Capital

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Please don't feel humiliated, you're learning a new skill and it's a process. No matter how this situation goes, you will get another chance to prove yourself (with this employer or another). Try new methods to retain information, different things work for different people. Ask questions, write things down, research more when you get home, do homework, etc. This is why they call work ---> work ;)
PS I cried almost everyday after work as a new nurse, I stuck it out and it got better
 

chriscemt

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B. Not slowing down enough in anticipation of red lights while driving code 3, twice

This is a real problem, and it's one of the reasons I think we should have an age floor for EMTs - at least for emergent operations. You should be erring on the side of caution and safely operating the ambulance at all times. Even with experience, anticipating the light cycles can be hard (they are nearly absolutely different for all intersections, and can change with time) and it only takes one mistake to end your career (amongst other things).
 

medichopeful

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putting the pulse O2 on upside down.

Is that even a thing? As long as the light can go from one side to the other, it shouldn't matter which side is up, so I'm not sure why they are giving you a hard time for this. A lot of these things seem like they are no big deal. For example, having trouble with a 12-lead. There's 10 wires there, it will take some time to learn where to put them all properly. I've been in the medical field for a few years, and at least a few times a month I put the leads on incorrectly. Don't stress over it!

The safety ones are a bit more concerning (especially the red lights. Don't become a statistic), but I think that with experience those errors will decrease. Do you think nervousness has something to do with it? It's ok if it does, we all get nervous on calls at times, but there are ways to work through it!
 
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sunshine girl

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Is that even a thing? As long as the light can go from one side to the other, it shouldn't matter which side is up, so I'm not sure why they are giving you a hard time for this. A lot of these things seem like they are no big deal. For example, having trouble with a 12-lead. There's 10 wires there, it will take some time to learn where to put them all properly. I've been in the medical field for a few years, and at least a few times a month I put the leads on incorrectly. Don't stress over it!

The safety ones are a bit more concerning (especially the red lights. Don't become a statistic), but I think that with experience those errors will decrease. Do you think nervousness has something to do with it? It's ok if it does, we all get nervous on calls at times, but there are ways to work through it!
Yes I definitely have problems with getting nervous but it’s because I’ve been so afraid of making mistakes and getting reprimanded... not because the actual medicine and responsibilities make me nervous. Does that make sense? And I completely understand why coming in hot to a red light is extremely dangerous. I’ve been kicking myself for that for the past 24 hours. I think after making a mistake I tend to get tunnel vision regarding that one thing and then I make errors in other ways and it becomes a vicious cycle with my medic and FTO getting progressively more angry with me and my anxiety level skyrocketing.
 

Flying

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Be honest with yourself if you think this is a problem, and approach management/training before they come to you (piggybacking off of what DesertMedic said).

When it comes to driving, assume everyone is trying to kill you and your patient, just drive normally.
 

DrParasite

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Based on what your saying, I think you might be fired. Sorry if that's not the answer your wanted to hear. I've been fired for less. It's not the end of the world. Apply to other agencies tonight, just in case the worst happens (while your are still currently employed, it looks better than having a short EMS job as your first 911 position that your are no longer at)

Getting fired in EMS is not the end of the world. Some FTOs suck and go out of their way to be hypercritical of their newbies (also know this from firsthand experience). It's their way to show how they are perfect and never make mistakes.

I was let go from one county for reasons similar to yours..... Went to work for the next County over and loved half my shifts with 1 fto, and hated the other lazy POS fto (I have since heard that fto acted similarly with other newbies, resulting in them no longer being employed as well), and left that job for the private sector. I am now working back in my original county part time for a FD, as well as for a state college as a fire/EMS responder, where I make 40% more an hour than when I first started on the ambulance.

So like I said, it isn't that big of a deal (other than the immediate short term hurt and anxiety, been there and done that), what's important is how handle the next steps in your EMS career.
 
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Lo2w

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Going off what Doc said, look into the hospitals around you. There might be an entry level aide/tech position you could work and take a break from EMS. It would give you some good experience in taking vitals, 12 leads etc. without all the stresses of EMS on the box.
 

medichopeful

Flight RN/Paramedic
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Yes I definitely have problems with getting nervous but it’s because I’ve been so afraid of making mistakes and getting reprimanded... not because the actual medicine and responsibilities make me nervous. Does that make sense? And I completely understand why coming in hot to a red light is extremely dangerous. I’ve been kicking myself for that for the past 24 hours. I think after making a mistake I tend to get tunnel vision regarding that one thing and then I make errors in other ways and it becomes a vicious cycle with my medic and FTO getting progressively more angry with me and my anxiety level skyrocketing.

I would stop kicking yourself for that mistake, but I wouldn't make it again. Red lights are red lights, no matter what you're driving :)

I hate to say it, but you're going to make mistakes in EMS. If you're being reprimanded for those mistakes, I would look elsewhere for employment. If you're being educated when you make mistakes, you've found a good place to work. I think that one of the things that separates mediocre EMS/healthcare agencies from excellent ones are the ways that they train new employees, and how they treat errors and mistakes.

Healthcare in general is a very complicated field, and EMS is no different. You are new at this (10 shifts!), you are going to make mistakes (we all do), and you're going to feel like an idiot (we all do). That doesn't mean that you are an incompetent provider, or that you shouldn't work with patients, or anything like that. Learn from your mistakes and move on to the next thing. When you inevitably make another mistake (again, as we all will), learn from that one too.

If your FTO is getting angry at you for making the same mistakes any new person would, you need a new FTO. Also, I'm guessing that you are rushing at things, which is setting you up for errors. Take things slow, there are very few reasons to rush in emergency medicine.

Sadly, it doesn't seem like an ideal situation for a new EMT. I would seriously consider looking at other companies or at the very least switching FTOs and medics. There are medics and FTOs who actually like to teach, and who don't get angry when mistakes are made. An FTO should be building you up, not tearing you down.
 
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