EMT questions

Kharij

Forum Ride Along
2
1
3
Hi, I'm Damani, a college student who plans to become an EMT over the summer. I'm taking a class that requires me to interview someone in the profession. Finding an EMT in the wild is challenging, so this forum seems like a good place to ask questions. I have attached a series of questions, and I was curious if anyone could answer some of these questions. Thank you.

1. What influenced you to pursue a career in?

2. What does a typical work day look like?

3. What do you enjoy most about your position? What is the most challenging?

4. How has the pandemic impacted your daily job duties?

5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Do you have specific career goals?

6. What does professionalism mean to you?

7. What advice do you have for students interested in this career? What personal characteristics are required to be successful in this career?

8. What is the future of this profession?
 

Aprz

Non flying critical care flight attendant
Premium Member
2,970
628
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1. What influenced you to pursue a career in?
I was honestly lost in life. I did terrible in high school. I wasn't doing well in college. I didn't know what I was going to do. My dad had a seizure. The ambulance and fire department showed up. I remember telling the firefighters that there was a mistake; We had asked for the ambulance. Like a week or two later, my grandma was showing me a brochure with a bunch of tech classes. She wanted me to sign up for EKG Tech, but I saw EMT on the same page. I was like no way, I can take this class and work on the ambulance? The requirement was Emergency Response first so I took that, liked it, and just progressed from there.

2. What does a typical work day look like?
It's different where you work. A lot of people don't realize that there are different types of ambulances. There are ambulances that primarily do interfacility transfers (IFT), which is usually non emegent transfer from one facility to another. An example is taking someone from a convalescent home to their dailysis appointment. They might have dementia and COPD and cannot self regulate their oxygen. Maybe they had a prior stroke and cannot hold themselves up in a chair. It's usually mind numbing boring and one of the less exciting aspects of the job.

There will be ambulances that only do 911. People don't realize that most 911 calls aren't really emergencies. People will call 911 for almost anything. You deal with a lot of drunks, homeless, or minor complaints (eg leg pain x1 week). Every once in awhile, you'll get an acute stroke or cardiac arrest to shake things up.

A lot of places do a combination of 911 and IFT.

Ambulances could be different levels. There is basic (BLS), intermediate (ILS), and advance (ALS), and critical care (CCT). Sometimes all the ambulances are ALS so they respond to basic and advance calls. That's how most systems I worked in were. Sometimes they do a tieed response were the BLS units will go to calls that sound not so crazy (eg leg pain, psych, drunk) and ALS will go to more likely critical calls (eg chest pain, cardiac arrest, shortness of breath). Critical care most often does IFT or flight, but they can get very sick patients on ventilators, bunch of drips, ECMO, balloon pumps, Impella, etc.

Anyways, I started off on BLS IFT. It was simple and slow. Pay was low. I liked it, but it was mind numbing. I then went on to be an EMT on CCT, which meant I just drove the nurse around. Calls were more exciting, but I was just a driver and gurney pusher pretty much. I did 911 ALS (all ALS system) as an EMT for a year. Again, mostly drove. The fun started when I became a paramedic (after like 5 years in EMS?). Ran a bunch of easy peasy calls (eg leg pain, anxiety, diarrhea) with critical calls like once every couple of weeks or even less frequent. I worked in an urban area so I was very busy. Sometimes I worked in a slow area on a quick response vehicle (QRV), which was fun. After 5 years of that, I went onto flight. Usually slow. Calls I feel like are about the same, but sometimes I get good scene or CCT calls.

3. What do you enjoy most about your position? What is the most challenging?
I love flying, lol. Most challenging thing is that now I work with a nurse as my partner, I don't feel like there is a clear leader among the two of us. We are a team. You really have to learn to speak up, but at the same time, also learn not to be such a control freak. On the ambulance, it was my show and I got to do what I want. Now we both have to agree on what to do. I had minda the similar thing on the ambulance dealing with firefighter/paramedics, but once the patient was in my ambulance and the firefighter was gone, I had the freedom to do whatever. Not the case working with a flight nurse.

4. How has the pandemic impacted your daily job duties?
During the peak of the pandemic, we just had to check temperatures and fill out forms when clock into work. We had to fill out additional forms when we had COVID 19 patients. They came up with a complicated way to strongly encourage patients not to go to the hospital called "assess and release", which sounded like a common thing throughout the country. I called it "an AMA extra steps"; totally a Rick and Morty reference. AMA = against medical advice where a patient chose to stay home or self transport without an ambulance. I beyond hated all the PPE we had to wear. Patients always said the magic word that made it so we had to wear PPE. You'd get a patient who looks fine, practically doing kart wheels to the ambulances, and they'd say they had shortness of breath, coughing, body aches, nausea, diarrhea, everything... I felt like a lot of people wanted to spice up how sick they were and it created a butt load more work for us. Ugh. COVID 19 definitely made working on the ambulance a lot less comfortable and created a ton of paperwork for me.

5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Do you have specific career goals?
Working a lot in flight, I am thinking about nursing school. A lot of us are dual certified as nurse and medic. I signed up for college, but put a halt on that plan when my base closed. I just started working as a traveler, enjoying that, and looking at school again now things are starting to get more stable for me. I am not sure if I'll go the nurse route or even go beyond like PA or something. I kinda feel like for me nursing is aiming too low. I want to do more. At the flight level, at least outside of California, there isn't much difference between a flight nurse and medic I think, so going to nursing school I feel like would only add extra letters after my name, maybe a small pay increase, I can pickup more shifts, but that's it. Doesn't seem like a lot of bang for buck I feel.

6. What does professionalism mean to you?
Show up on time for your shifts. Show up ready. Wear your uniform properly. Don't swear or be rude to people. Be honest about what you can do and your documentation. Do the best that you can do. Be nice.

7. What advice do you have for students interested in this career? What personal characteristics are required to be successful in this career?
Be nice. Have fun. Be open to learning; Don't limit yourself. A lot of people will be like "I'm an EMT so I don't have to learn that." I don't like that. This job is hard sometimes, tiring, and we don't need mean people in this job. I hate working with mean people. I feel bad for patients that get mean medics.

8. What is the future of this profession?
Honestly, I don't see this job changing much. It is difficult for change to happen. It's slow. I've been in EMS I think for like 11 years now? Doesn't seem like it has changed a lot. :(
 

DrParasite

The fire extinguisher is not just for show
6,029
1,918
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Hi, I'm Damani, a college student who plans to become an EMT over the summer. I'm taking a class that requires me to interview someone in the profession. Finding an EMT in the wild is challenging, so this forum seems like a good place to ask questions. I have attached a series of questions, and I was curious if anyone could answer some of these questions. Thank you.

1. What influenced you to pursue a career in?
I've done it since I was in high school, back in the late 90s. I had no intention of ever working full time in EMS, only keeping it as a volunteer thing on the side. I completed my bachelors, worked a few years as an IT contractor, and found myself miserable. while working full time as an IT contractor in a hospital, I interviewed for (and was offered) a per diem position in their EMS department. When that contract ended, I accepted a position in NYC, but found myself working 9 hours in the city, and two days a week, I would be running from the train station to EMS station 1, for a 6 hour shift on either the city or on the PICU truck. Commuting to the city got old, and I looked at the numbers, and i would be taking a 5 grand paycut, but my commute would change from a 1 hour train ride to a 15 minute walk from my front door, from 5 days into NYC to 3 days a week with the potential for OT. It was a primarily financial decision for me.
2. What does a typical work day look like?
While I not longer work full time in EMS, when I did, this was my day. 12 hour shift were standard (7 to 7 for all 911 trucks, IFTs started at 6/8/10, and typically ran 10 hours), and the first thing completed was a truck check, to ensure we had the bare essentials (oxygen, fuel, BVM, working suction/defib, etc). Then breakfast (I knew the best bagel places in the city). After that it was house duties (cleanup or do what the supervisor needed done), and be available for any 911 calls (6-10 calls per shift was average for us). for IFT it was similar, however IFTs were prescheduled, but if a crew was available, and the primary 911 unit was tied up, they would be sent on a 911 call.
3. What do you enjoy most about your position? What is the most challenging?
I loved the freedom, the consistent change of something new, and the fact that my boss wasn't looking over my shoulder. the most challenging thing was the pay, and the fact that negative attitudes were contagious.
4. How has the pandemic impacted your daily job duties?
my part time EMS job moved to EMS education, and EMT classes were cancelled. Reaching out to my former collages in NJ, they went from running 1-2 cardiac arrests in a week or two to running 1-2 cardiac arrests (covid related mostly) a shift. They are exhausted, and the call volume has increased.
5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Do you have specific career goals?
I left EMS full time in 2015ish, and now work PT for a FD, teach EMS classes, and work full time in IT/information security. As much as I enjoyed my time in EMS, the pay, schedule, career path, and management freedom are much better in my current role.
6. What does professionalism mean to you?
Professionalism means being a professional. This means doing the job. knowing your job. dressing the part. treating the patient appropriately. representing your employer in a positive manner. publicly praising, and privately complaining.
7. What advice do you have for students interested in this career? What personal characteristics are required to be successful in this career?
complete your EMT training when your young. work in the field full time for a year, and if you enjoy what you are doing, then go to paramedic class. Paramedic school is an investment in both time and money, and you don't want to spend thousands on schooling and a few years in school only to find out you hate the job.
8. What is the future of this profession?
That depends greatly on the funding model; while salaries are increasing, so are the number of people who are leaving the field. While the demand will definitely go up (as it has happened every year for the past few decades), the funding hasn't, and many EMS agencies are not given enough funding/resources to do the job that the AHJ expects, and have been forced to make partnerships in order to stop the clock, instead of adding funding to the EMS agency to deploy more 24/7 units.
 
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Kharij

Kharij

Forum Ride Along
2
1
3
I was honestly lost in life. I did terrible in high school. I wasn't doing well in college. I didn't know what I was going to do. My dad had a seizure. The ambulance and fire department showed up. I remember telling the firefighters that there was a mistake; We had asked for the ambulance. Like a week or two later, my grandma was showing me a brochure with a bunch of tech classes. She wanted me to sign up for EKG Tech, but I saw EMT on the same page. I was like no way, I can take this class and work on the ambulance? The requirement was Emergency Response first so I took that, liked it, and just progressed from there.


It's different where you work. A lot of people don't realize that there are different types of ambulances. There are ambulances that primarily do interfacility transfers (IFT), which is usually non emegent transfer from one facility to another. An example is taking someone from a convalescent home to their dailysis appointment. They might have dementia and COPD and cannot self regulate their oxygen. Maybe they had a prior stroke and cannot hold themselves up in a chair. It's usually mind numbing boring and one of the less exciting aspects of the job.

There will be ambulances that only do 911. People don't realize that most 911 calls aren't really emergencies. People will call 911 for almost anything. You deal with a lot of drunks, homeless, or minor complaints (eg leg pain x1 week). Every once in awhile, you'll get an acute stroke or cardiac arrest to shake things up.

A lot of places do a combination of 911 and IFT.

Ambulances could be different levels. There is basic (BLS), intermediate (ILS), and advance (ALS), and critical care (CCT). Sometimes all the ambulances are ALS so they respond to basic and advance calls. That's how most systems I worked in were. Sometimes they do a tieed response were the BLS units will go to calls that sound not so crazy (eg leg pain, psych, drunk) and ALS will go to more likely critical calls (eg chest pain, cardiac arrest, shortness of breath). Critical care most often does IFT or flight, but they can get very sick patients on ventilators, bunch of drips, ECMO, balloon pumps, Impella, etc.

Anyways, I started off on BLS IFT. It was simple and slow. Pay was low. I liked it, but it was mind numbing. I then went on to be an EMT on CCT, which meant I just drove the nurse around. Calls were more exciting, but I was just a driver and gurney pusher pretty much. I did 911 ALS (all ALS system) as an EMT for a year. Again, mostly drove. The fun started when I became a paramedic (after like 5 years in EMS?). Ran a bunch of easy peasy calls (eg leg pain, anxiety, diarrhea) with critical calls like once every couple of weeks or even less frequent. I worked in an urban area so I was very busy. Sometimes I worked in a slow area on a quick response vehicle (QRV), which was fun. After 5 years of that, I went onto flight. Usually slow. Calls I feel like are about the same, but sometimes I get good scene or CCT calls.


I love flying, lol. Most challenging thing is that now I work with a nurse as my partner, I don't feel like there is a clear leader among the two of us. We are a team. You really have to learn to speak up, but at the same time, also learn not to be such a control freak. On the ambulance, it was my show and I got to do what I want. Now we both have to agree on what to do. I had minda the similar thing on the ambulance dealing with firefighter/paramedics, but once the patient was in my ambulance and the firefighter was gone, I had the freedom to do whatever. Not the case working with a flight nurse.

During the peak of the pandemic, we just had to check temperatures and fill out forms when clock into work. We had to fill out additional forms when we had COVID 19 patients. They came up with a complicated way to strongly encourage patients not to go to the hospital called "assess and release", which sounded like a common thing throughout the country. I called it "an AMA extra steps"; totally a Rick and Morty reference. AMA = against medical advice where a patient chose to stay home or self transport without an ambulance. I beyond hated all the PPE we had to wear. Patients always said the magic word that made it so we had to wear PPE. You'd get a patient who looks fine, practically doing kart wheels to the ambulances, and they'd say they had shortness of breath, coughing, body aches, nausea, diarrhea, everything... I felt like a lot of people wanted to spice up how sick they were and it created a butt load more work for us. Ugh. COVID 19 definitely made working on the ambulance a lot less comfortable and created a ton of paperwork for me.


Working a lot in flight, I am thinking about nursing school. A lot of us are dual certified as nurse and medic. I signed up for college, but put a halt on that plan when my base closed. I just started working as a traveler, enjoying that, and looking at school again now things are starting to get more stable for me. I am not sure if I'll go the nurse route or even go beyond like PA or something. I kinda feel like for me nursing is aiming too low. I want to do more. At the flight level, at least outside of California, there isn't much difference between a flight nurse and medic I think, so going to nursing school I feel like would only add extra letters after my name, maybe a small pay increase, I can pickup more shifts, but that's it. Doesn't seem like a lot of bang for buck I feel.


Show up on time for your shifts. Show up ready. Wear your uniform properly. Don't swear or be rude to people. Be honest about what you can do and your documentation. Do the best that you can do. Be nice.


Be nice. Have fun. Be open to learning; Don't limit yourself. A lot of people will be like "I'm an EMT so I don't have to learn that." I don't like that. This job is hard sometimes, tiring, and we don't need mean people in this job. I hate working with mean people. I feel bad for patients that get mean medics.


Honestly, I don't see this job changing much. It is difficult for change to happen. It's slow. I've been in EMS I think for like 11 years now? Doesn't seem like it has changed a lot. :(
Thank you so much for the insight. I enjoyed reading about your experiences. Thank you for taking the time to answer the questions
 

johnrsemt

Forum Deputy Chief
1,566
228
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Hi, I'm Damani, a college student who plans to become an EMT over the summer. I'm taking a class that requires me to interview someone in the profession. Finding an EMT in the wild is challenging, so this forum seems like a good place to ask questions. I have attached a series of questions, and I was curious if anyone could answer some of these questions. Thank you.

1. What influenced you to pursue a career in?
I was working Retail as a manager for a company that no longer exists, taking my Scout troop to summer camp every year to a camp that the only building that had AC was the Health Lodge and I was smart and volunteered there: I wanted to get more medical training to help there so I went to the local FD to ask how to become an EMT-B. They trained me, I joined as a volunteer; after 2 years I realized I could do it FT, and get paid more than a retail manager, and get this funny thing called Overtime, since for 13 years I was paid salary......I started at 35, I am now 57. When I went FT, it was in IFT. PT in 911. I also did dispatch, and 2 summers as the paramedic at the Scout Summer camp that got me into EMS.
2. What does a typical work day look like?
48 hour shifts: check the truck, and do nothing else for 48 hours. We are extremely slow at FT job: if we have 1 patient per month, that is busy; I did 3 patient transports in 2021. I did get paid $105 K in 2021 though.
PT job varies, but every transport is 110-130 miles 1 way and about 40% of the time that we need to fly them we can't get a helicopter so that makes it fun.
3. What do you enjoy most about your position? What is the most challenging?
Enjoy is different days can be different. (I learned early on: never say you have seen everything: you will regret it.)
Hard: Knowing what the patient needs: People have said that IFT is mind numbing. But I learned more there than in 911. A lot of your patients can't speak, and you have to figure out what is wrong with them from gestures, moans, and vitals signs.
It is hard to watch a young person die; harder when it is from something stupid; and harder yet, when it wasn't their idea or fault and something stupid.
4. How has the pandemic impacted your daily job duties?
We got busier, and shorter handed. Daily duties didn't change, but couldn't socialize at work so much.
5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Do you have specific career goals?
Make it to retirement in 8 years or so.
6. What does professionalism mean to you?
Look and act the part. Don't swear at patients or partners. Don't yell at people unless you need to get their attention, to keep them from walking into traffic (unless it will keep them from harassing you).
7. What advice do you have for students interested in this career? What personal characteristics are required to be successful in this career?
Never stop learning; never think you have learned it all, or seen it all.

Rule #1: people die.
Rule #2: You can't change Rule #1.
Remember the 2 rules of EMS and it will make your life a little easier.


8. What is the future of this profession?
Depends what happenings with Federal and State financing. People want to cut finances, but if you don't pay the ambulance services more and more will go out of business. and it is hard enough.
My PT job is 130 miles to closest level II hospital: 110 miles to closest towns with closest EMS. If they go out of business it would be 220 miles on a major freeway without EMS.

Good luck.
 
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