Cops and former cops: do you like EMS better?

Gawill94

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The short question I’m asking: for those who have done both law enforcement and EMS, which one do you like better and why?

The reason I ask is that I have been a cop for 5 years and I absolutely love it. However with recent law changes, our local prosecutor demonizing and arresting us, and qualified immunity under attack, I’m considering a change and finishing up the hiring process with the Fire and Rescue dept, but still undecided as I get closer to needing to make a decision. I love the adrenaline rush, helping people in their time of need, and working under pressure. Any insight would be appreciated.
 

Old Tracker

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I was Federal, Border Patrol and Customs Investigations. Both, in their own way were more exciting than EMS. The stressors in those two areas were more physical than mental. Whereas, here in EMS, the stress is mental, more than physical. Trying to do all the right things to get your patient stable, or breathing, asap, is a whole different kettle of fish for me. I was a street cop for about 5 months, before I was notified I had made into the BP, but that was a pretty fun job too, but more inline with the other LEO gigs than with EMS.

In EMS, I get satisfaction out of knowing I help someone specifically rather than an anonymous public. JMO
 

CALEMT

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I’m considering a change and finishing up the hiring process with the Fire and Rescue dept

They say that cops are just the ones who failed out of the fire academy. All joking aside I come from a family of law enforcement and at the crossroads in my life I went left when everyone else went right (Dad was a LEO for 30 years, sister is a PO, brother-in-law is a LEO, I'm a firefighter paramedic). Not a day goes by where I don't regret my decision. No doubt I could do the LE job, but not in todays world and society.

@chrls is the local LEO/ paramedic. His perspective on doing both is pretty badass, not gonna lie.
 

E tank

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Way more different jobs in LE than EMS, retirement in a non-FD EMS isn't in the same zip code as LE, and as long as cops actually live an active life outside of LE when they're off duty & don't go from the couch to patrol and back, longevity in the job can be well into the 2 decade + range. 3rd service or private ems can't offer that. Fire is, of course, a different conversation.
 

Old Tracker

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Before I retired, we got a message/email informing us that the DEA had done a survey on longevity of the guys who retired at age 50 verse the guys that stayed until age 57, mandatory retirement. The guys that stayed the max died on average within 2 to 3 years, whereas those that bailed early lived longer. I'm 71 now and retired from federal service with 32 years in, at age 50. No idea if those numbers have changed, but they definitely influenced me at the time.
 

DrParasite

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I am not a cop, have never been a cop, and wanted to be a cop for about a week.... so all my info is second hand.

When I originally went through the fire academy, two guys in my class were former cops. I don't know many former full time FFs who go on to become cops, but I know several of did the other way.

I know 1 LEO who worked for a public safety dept (FF/LEO) before going part-time at the sheriffs department and full time with EMS. I think he said the 24 on 72 off schedule was the deciding factor for him. Another one retired from LEO, and then became a paramedic.

Do what makes you happy; if your pension time carries over, even better.
 

Trauma Cop

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The short question I’m asking: for those who have done both law enforcement and EMS, which one do you like better and why?

The reason I ask is that I have been a cop for 5 years and I absolutely love it. However with recent law changes, our local prosecutor demonizing and arresting us, and qualified immunity under attack, I’m considering a change and finishing up the hiring process with the Fire and Rescue dept, but still undecided as I get closer to needing to make a decision. I love the adrenaline rush, helping people in their time of need, and working under pressure. Any insight would be appreciated.
The short question I’m asking: for those who have done both law enforcement and EMS, which one do you like better and why?

The reason I ask is that I have been a cop for 5 years and I absolutely love it. However with recent law changes, our local prosecutor demonizing and arresting us, and qualified immunity under attack, I’m considering a change and finishing up the hiring process with the Fire and Rescue dept, but still undecided as I get closer to needing to make a decision. I love the adrenaline rush, helping people in their time of need, and working under pressure. Any insight would be appreciated.
I was a cop for 13 years before I decided to get into EMS. My ultimate decision was made because I worked for an agency with corrupt officers and laxed discipline. I used to really enjoy the job but I got to where I did not want to come into work anymore. Having said that, I found that I really enjoyed EMS. Here's why: As a cop, you're responding to a bunch of complaints in which you typically have no solution. You end up negotiating with the public. Complaints like loud music, barking dogs, civil matters etc. Working on the back of an ambulance, there's basically two things you do. You're either giving someone a ride to the hospital or you're treating a real emergency. There's really no in-between. I enjoy the fact that you are not working a senseless job where you continuously have to bargain with the public. You're working a job where the public actually wants you to be there.
 

MMiz

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With LEO morale at an all time low, I wonder if we'll see more making the jump to EMS.

The sense I get is that the jobs in some ways are very similar. Lots of low priority calls, psych issues, and paperwork.

I had a partner that worked as an EMT-Basic for a private service and as a LEO. The sense I got from him that both paid the bills.
 

Trauma Cop

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I don't know if you'll see a jump in EMS but you're definitely seeing a lot of people get out of the job. It's really, really hard to go to work when people don't want you and they give you a hard time even when they don't know you. I enjoyed my job for a really long time and took pride in it. I just happened to also really enjoy emergency medicine. I don't think a lot of cops are like that. In my neck of the woods police jobs pay more than EMS so when an individual leaves, he typically does something like real estate, nursing, truck driving or something like that. I have personally never seen another officer in my area leave to go to the EMS field.
With LEO morale at an all time low, I wonder if we'll see more making the jump to EMS.

The sense I get is that the jobs in some ways are very similar. Lots of low priority calls, psych issues, and paperwork.

I had a partner that worked as an EMT-Basic for a private service and as a LEO. The sense I got from him that both paid the bills.
 

Trauma Cop

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With LEO morale at an all time low, I wonder if we'll see more making the jump to EMS.

The sense I get is that the jobs in some ways are very similar. Lots of low priority calls, psych issues, and paperwork.

I had a partner that worked as an EMT-Basic for a private service and as a LEO. The sense I got from him that both paid the bills.
Let me elaborate on something. While police training is a lot more extensive than EMT, there is a no damn reason that a cop should make more than a paramedic. Most police academies are around 6 months long so you basically have the equivalent of an advanced EMT as far as training hours. Paramedics have far more education than your typical cop.
 
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hpclayto

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I’m right there with you after 10 years LE. I’d love to work for a public safety agency that does LE/Fire/EMS but those are few and far in between. I’ve only got my EMT, can’t imagine taking that pay cut. I’ve thought about going to nursing school as well.
 

MMiz

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@Trauma Cop, training doesn't always correlate to pay. Just ask any UPS driver (no education required), pilot (9 month program), or fire fighter (6 month program).

If I was still in EMS I would absolutely be doing an online nursing program through a local, public college or university. Then, I'd work towards being a nurse practitioner to make some real money.
 

Trauma Cop

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@Trauma Cop, training doesn't always correlate to pay. Just ask any UPS driver (no education required), pilot (9 month program), or fire fighter (6 month program).

If I was still in EMS I would absolutely be doing an online nursing program through a local, public college or university. Then, I'd work towards being a nurse practitioner to make some real money.
I'll definitely agree with that. I just think since they are typically both City or County based that education level should come into play. You know what I'm saying? Example, the city that I worked for, police officers made the same thing as paramedics. EMTs didn't make much at all. When you add up the level of education each has to have, I don't see how the city justified that. And to add, the ambulance service actually makes money for the city. The police department really does not.
 

Old Tracker

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If you are under 37, federal LEO is the way to go. Even BP, you go to school for about 6 months and starting pay is way, way better than it was when I went in back in 1980. You really don't have the nickel dime complaints (noise, etc.) to deal with. Investigations for Customs was a fun job, paperwork sucked, but you were pretty much independent. Working a Port of Entry is a whole different kettle of fish though. But, Fed is where the bucks are for being a LEO.
 
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Gawill94

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thanks everyone for your responses. @Old Tracker , I do like that idea of helping a specific person instead of enforcing the “victimless crimes.” Thats a good point. To all the folks who mentioned pay and benefits, it makes more financial sense to go EMS. I work for a small town now with pretty good pay and benefits. Moving to the county fire and rescue would make me take a 5k pay cut initially, but their pay scale and retirement makes up for it and passes the police salary after a few years, especially if you become a pararmedic (which they pay for). @DrParasite I agree I’ve seen plenty of cops become firefighters/EMS, I’ve only known one to go from EMS to PD, and he quit the PD after about 2 years so that was a good point. @Trauma Cop your whole post was very insightful. I really like the dept I work for, so if I leave it won’t be for another LE gig, but EMS is sounding more and more enticing that’s for sure.
 

DrParasite

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I’ve only known one to go from EMS to PD, and he quit the PD after about 2 years so that was a good point.
I have worked with plenty of EMS people who went on to work as municipal cops, corrections officers, sheriff's deputies, or state troopers. Better pay, better pension, better treatment... it's not for me, but I can think of maybe a dozen people I know that left FT EMS jobs for FT LEO jobs, and I don't blame them one bit.

on the EMS side, we deal with a lot of BS.
Working on the back of an ambulance, there's basically two things you do. You're either giving someone a ride to the hospital or you're treating a real emergency. There's really no in-between.
When I worked EMS (I was primarily in urban cities), we did a lot of taxi rides to the ER. I dealt with quite a few real emergencies, but if I had to ball park it, I would say maybe 10% of the calls I went on were time critical calls where the patient was dying in front of me; maybe 25% where the call to the ambulance was actually justified IMO. We dealt with new mother syndrome, insurance CYA, and a lot of calls that could have been handled with the family driving the patient to their primary doctor.

And I am also very much aware that LEO's are often taking a report, and not always utilizing their LEO training, but at least they were paid more, had a better retirement system, and more career options than many/most EMS providers
 

Trauma Cop

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I have worked with plenty of EMS people who went on to work as municipal cops, corrections officers, sheriff's deputies, or state troopers. Better pay, better pension, better treatment... it's not for me, but I can think of maybe a dozen people I know that left FT EMS jobs for FT LEO jobs, and I don't blame them one bit.

on the EMS side, we deal with a lot of BS.

When I worked EMS (I was primarily in urban cities), we did a lot of taxi rides to the ER. I dealt with quite a few real emergencies, but if I had to ball park it, I would say maybe 10% of the calls I went on were time critical calls where the patient was dying in front of me; maybe 25% where the call to the ambulance was actually justified IMO. We dealt with new mother syndrome, insurance CYA, and a lot of calls that could have been handled with the family driving the patient to their primary doctor.

And I am also very much aware that LEO's are often taking a report, and not always utilizing their LEO training, but at least they were paid more, had a better retirement system, and more career options than many/most EMS providers
yeah, and I'll tell you man, law enforcement just isn't what it used to be. That's an absolute fact. It really used to be fun. Now, people want to throw cameras in your face every time you make contact and of course, everybody this day and time knows their rights even though most of them really don't. It's kind of sad man, the people used to really like law enforcement and would come up to you with their kids and want to engage with you but at least in my area, that didn't happen much at all anymore. A lot of people say that you shouldn't care if you're being recorded if you're doing the right thing but that's really not the point. Nobody wants to have their entire day documented because everybody is bound to mess up at some point.
 
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Gawill94

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Here in Northern Virginia, first responders in general are compensated well thankfully. I would agree that most of our calls are BS as well, like one other mentioned civil, noise, animal complaints, traffic complaints, fender benders etc.
@Trauma Cop I’ve never had an issue with that side of things on the LE side as far as basic first aid, tourniquets, cpr, etc if we beat rescue to a call. Let me ask you this, do you ever look back and wish that you stayed in LE? That goes for @Old Tracker and anyone else who left LE to do EMS also.
 

Trauma Cop

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No I don't. But you have to understand, I did it for 13 years and I got to do everything I wanted to do. I was a firearms instructor, taser instructor, canine handler, fto, sexual assault investigator. When I made the decision to leave, I was well ready. I really enjoyed the department I worked for but the discipline was really laxed and officers were getting away with stuff that they shouldn't. I was up for promotion and I really didn't want it because I liked patrol but then I was also looking at having people with less seniority than me being my supervisors and I just couldn't have that.
 

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