Attitude.

NomadicMedic

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I just saw a crew from another ambulance service at the gas station, stopping to grab a soda. I was coming out with a cup of coffee and said, “hey how’s it going!“ They both looked at me and kind of sneered and said, “just living the dream.“ One guy said, “I can’t wait till the shift is over“

Why is it that everyone who works in EMS loves this negativity? They love to appear beaten down and exhausted beyond belief. I’ve been listening to the radio, I know that crew hadn’t gone out on anything other than a BLS sick person all day. This pervasive attitude of negativity is a huge turn off to new people and experienced folks as well. There are days when I’ve had enough, but I still smile and say hi to everybody.

You don’t have to be sunshine and rainbows every day, but at least try to be cheerful. I don’t understand this whole attitude and it makes me wonder where it came from and what we can do to fix it.
 

EpiEMS

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One guy said, “I can’t wait till the shift is over“
Before somebody tries to blame this on compensation, that is only part of the picture. This is a major industry-wide cultural problem that can't be patched over by just increasing pay (hedonic treadmill sets in quite quickly & so does entitlement to a new wage level. We even see this in volunteer agencies (being burned out is "cool").

Narrowly speaking, with respect to EMS, I think there is a lot to be said for improving working conditions (no street posting), reducing shift length, and increasing education. An interesting dissertation that provides some discussion is here for reference: https://etd.ohiolink.edu/apexprod/r...ession=osu1531751856368551&disposition=inline
I'll have to look through the literature for more correlates of burnout. Either way, professionalizing management of EMS agencies is a start.

(All that being said, this issue is not just an EMS one, but a broader economic & cultural one beyond my scope, so I encourage us to stick to EMS where we can. )
 

Tigger

Dodges Pucks
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I left my last job in part because this attitude is so pervasive. But I could never figure it’s source, just that management often stoked it for whatever reason. A lot of the “senior” employees were just unpleasant to be around and wore their salt like some kind of honor belt. I guess new people see them as role models and the cycle perpetuates.

People can rag on fire all they want, but that negativity seems to exist in far less of a capacity. We have our own issues but I would say for the most part our people are happy to be here.
 

EpiEMS

Forum Deputy Chief
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I left my last job in part because this attitude is so pervasive. But I could never figure it’s source, just that management often stoked it for whatever reason. A lot of the “senior” employees were just unpleasant to be around and wore their salt like some kind of honor belt. I guess new people see them as role models and the cycle perpetuates.

People can rag on fire all they want, but that negativity seems to exist in far less of a capacity. We have our own issues but I would say for the most part our people are happy to be here.

I’ve always wanted to do a study of management in EMS and correlates of performance/outcomes. I have a prior coming into this that management coming up from the ranks without any formal management education is a correlate of suboptimal performance.

Speaking of fire, why do you think that is? Is it the public image and positive feedback? Compensation/lifestyle? Something else?
 

E tank

Caution: Paralyzing Agent
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Unrealistic expectations. Sometimes delusional expectations.

Being happy in a job to a great extent is being aware of what there is that you can maximally benefit from and acknowledge that you're there more or less voluntarily. This takes some measure of humility and a lot of maturity.

If enough immature egomaniacs make up your staff, these problems will be chronic.
 

DrParasite

The fire extinguisher is not just for show
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A lot of the “senior” employees were just unpleasant to be around and wore their salt like some kind of honor belt. I guess new people see them as role models and the cycle perpetuates.
EXACTLY!!!!! New guys see the senior guys acting like this, and they want to be in the cool club, so they act like that... Those that don't act that way get shunned out of the cool club.

Truth be told, I was never miserable on the truck, but I did have bad days, where if someone asked how my day was doing, I would respond "I can't wait for this shift to be over." But I refused to buy into the culture of suck, where the job sucked, so we should just complain about everything. This made me unpopular with certain people, because I did my job, and went home at the end of the shift. I also felt if you are that miserable, and that awesome, you should have no problem finding a better job where you weren't miserable.

I made a point to be happy, and avoid the culture of suck. on a nice spring day, we would go to the park, shut the truck off, and enjoy the weather. My partner and I would also get a bagel first thing in the morning because, without food, I was def cranky and miserable to be around. When we went for food, I would always ask if our dispatchers wanted anything, and on night shifts, I would make a Dunkin run for a certain long-legged blonde who worked in the ER.

Did we have bad days? sure. Did I have wet dog smell from getting caught in a downpour once or twice? yep. And do I think things could, and should, have been better, if only we had better equipment, more staffing, or better pay? absolutely. But I knew I couldn't control those things, so I did what I could to make the best of the situation, and always showed my employer and my career in the best possible light. And I also know that as bad as my employer was, it could always be worse.
 
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Carlos Danger

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Here's one recipe for creating employees with bad attitudes:
  1. Start with mostly young, immature people who have little life or work experience and seem to have an ever increasing sense of entitlement
  2. Attract them to a profession with implications of excitement and glamor, when it is actually anything but
  3. Give them plenty of training on exciting technical skills that they will rarely if ever use, but very little training on the mundane skills that they'll need every day
  4. Immerse them in a culture that idolizes the crusty, burnt-out old operator who just DGAF
  5. Provide poor to mediocre compensation and invest little or nothing in their educational or professional development
  6. Continue to wonder why these employees tend not to display great attitudes and stellar customer service
 

VentMonkey

Family Guy
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Here's one recipe for creating employees with bad attitudes:
  1. Start with mostly young, immature people who have little life or work experience and seem to have an ever increasing sense of entitlement
  2. Attract them to a profession with implications of excitement and glamor, when it is actually anything but
  3. Give them plenty of training on exciting technical skills that they will rarely if ever use, but very little training on the mundane skills that they'll need every day
  4. Immerse them in a culture that idolizes the crusty, burnt-out old operator who just DGAF
  5. Provide poor to mediocre compensation and invest little or nothing in their educational or professional development
  6. Continue to wonder why these employees tend not to display great attitudes and stellar customer service
Should be sticky-note posted on every EMS manager’s office door. #EndThread
 

johnrsemt

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I have never had that attitude; I have had bad days, bad shifts, but always tried to be happy and upbeat.
Never been grouchy or down around others like that.
 

Fezman92

NJ and PA EMT
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I’ve managed to change 2 of my 3 shifts because my partner is so tired/angry/salty. He doesn’t show it around patients obviously but working with him isn’t as fun as working with my other coworkers.
 
OP
NomadicMedic

NomadicMedic

Pot or Kettle? Unsure.
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I’ve managed to change 2 of my 3 shifts because my partner is so tired/angry/salty. He doesn’t show it around patients obviously but working with him isn’t as fun as working with my other coworkers.

I told my boss at my part time job that I could quit, or he needed to assign the salty arse that was on that shift somewhere else, because I found the atmosphere so toxic I didn’t want to even be in the station when he was there.

My weekend shifts are now drama free. Things don’t change unless you speak up
 

mgr22

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I told my boss at my part time job that I could quit, or he needed to assign the salty arse that was on that shift somewhere else, because I found the atmosphere so toxic I didn’t want to even be in the station when he was there.

My weekend shifts are now drama free. Things don’t change unless you speak up
Is this the norm now? If I'd tried to tell any of my bosses how to staff shifts, I'm pretty sure I would have been invited to not show up for any of them.
 
OP
NomadicMedic

NomadicMedic

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Is this the norm now? If I'd tried to tell any of my bosses how to staff shifts, I'm pretty sure I would have been invited to not show up for any of them.

That was an option. I actually offered to resign, as I just work a couple of weekend shifts per month. I told my supervisor that the agency wasn't a place I enjoyed working due to the other guy on that shift, but I'd understand if it was easier to lose a part-time Paramedic over a full-time AEMT. He told me "there have been dozens of complaints about him, and I wasn't alone." Of course, because it's EMS and nobody in "leadership" has any real idea of how to manage problem employees, we just move them. He now works a late-night shift and my weekends are quiet.

But if my boss told me "too bad," I would have been more than happy to hand him my keys. Life is too short to deal with a part-time job that stresses you out. Also, paramedics are in high demand here. I could walk out and have 4 other PT gigs lined up as quickly as I could make phone calls. I only work at that agency because it's very flexible with shifts, less than 10 minutes from home, and I work as a single medic on a squad most of the time. I don't really need the beer money or the headache that comes from toxic coworkers.
 

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