EMTs with long hair

Phaedras

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I would like to begin my EMT-B training in Boston this upcoming semester. I plan on staying in town for a while but I'm considering moving to LA later on.

I wanted to know if there are people here from either of those towns and if they have guys with ponytails and or beards working as EMTs.

I keep it all trimmed and I don't have any piercings or tattoos. I'm no slacker and I'm in shape. How hard is it going to be to find a job?
 

Chimpie

Site Administrator
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Many depts/agencies require hair to be cut to collar length for professionalism, and beards removed for health reasons.

Plus if you have to wear an SCBA you'll have problems with that beard.
 

Ridryder911

EMS Guru
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As stated, many require that it be "off the shoulders" as well, many interpert the OSHA/NIOSH rules of having a beard produces the inability of wearing any type of masks such as particulate (surgical type).

R/r 911
 

Ridryder911

EMS Guru
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Most medical and usually even "professional" areas are concern with image, as well as hair is usually considered to harbor bacteria, sweat, and have the ability to be get caught by equipment, violent patients.

Not only is hair pointed out, fake nails, beards, ear rings, etc. It is not the appearance as much as being a health issue.

R/r 911
 

Airwaygoddess

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As Chimpie and Rid have said, these are very good reasons why there are dress codes in place. It is to protect you and your patients. I have know many firefighters and EMS folks that had said "you would never know I used to have long hair!" If you really want to pursue career towards fire or EMS, what is a little hair? P.S. welcome to the tribe!:)
 

MMiz

I put the M in EMTLife
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I'm sure that there are EMTs with long hair, and I'm sure that there are services that allow it, but I know that my private service require wouldn't allow it.

It wouldn't hurt to call around to different EMS programs and services in your area to see what they say.
 

Emtgirl21

Forum Lieutenant
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I think all the girls i work with but one has long hair. Our policy is that it has to be kept out of our eyes and pulled back but they really never say anything about it to us. None of the guys had beards for say but alot of gotees (sp).
 

firetender

Community Leader Emeritus
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Good luck finding any documentation that really shows hair, or beards, or personal preferences in appearance affect a person's ability to perform a job such as this. People are effectively doing it all the time, in all sorts of "appearances" but within the accepted norms of their particular society at the time.

Women work with their hair long. They adjust it so it works. Why not men? How many bearded Sikh Doctors are there? (Yup, that infection rate from beards is really spreading over there in India. Let's not even think about Rabbis doing circumcisions!)

It's all about perception and standardization, uniformity, regimentation and control. It's not about performance.

When a system or company mandates a certain appearance, or restrictions on appearance, or even "personal preferences" it is about an image that they wish to maintain and project. It strips the individual of the right to find out what works for him or her in favor of conformity.

EMS is a hybrid Cop/Military mode, where standardization is said to provide a form of security for the people it serves.

So, if you want to find a real reason for such regulation, you'll find it in a percieved sense of what the mainstream will accept without question. That's not a bad thing, but let's call it like it is.
 

Jon

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My volunteer and paid companies both have female AND male EMT's with longer hair. It isn't an issue, as long as it isn't an obstruction. If you wore your hair over your face... it would be a problem... but as long as it isn't too long (down the back and long enough to get caught in machinery) I can't see a ponytail being a problem with every service.

You may have a service that has a policy against it... and then you have to decide if you want to work for that service.


As for facial hair... I have a moustache and goatee... I keep it short, and it stops at the bottom of my chin... I can still get a mask seal with an SCBA, so I'm comfortable with it. My full-time job doesn't care (non-EMS), but the part time job has a policy against facial hair... If they ask me to shave, I probably will... but I only work a few shifts a month, so no one really cares. I know that when I finially get around to going to fire school, I'll have to shave it off.
 

chocchipsmom

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Our service does not have a policy regarding hair length, but you must be neat. As for facial hair, you must be able to be fit tested for the respirators. Several of our guys have mustaches and goatees, but they are kept neatly trimmed.
 

Aileana

Forum Lieutenant
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just keep your hair neat, and out of your face, and the facial hair neat and under control, and they shouldnt have any complaints.
 

babygirl2882

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I don't remember where I read this but I heard a story of a guy who had long hair and wasn't yet voted into his company yet and was told by a friend that he wasn't going to be because he had long hair, so he got some company hats and never took them off, got voted in and worked hard, never once did the company have a problem with his work or anything, then a couple years down the line he took off his hat and SURPRISE his hair was still long, nobody ever knew before that. I don't remember what happened if he stayed or not but it goes to show has prejudice people can be over something so small.

Maybe it's just because my whole life growing up in Cali my dad had long hair, and he'd had it his whole life, then when we moved to Oregon to a pretty conservative town it was taken off because it offended people, I don't think changing for others is something that should be done (now there are times when it is) and its hard still because I don't think its fair that he should have, but liefs not fair right?

Personally I have sholder length hair and its almost always in a ponytail, easier to manage and more of a shock to people when it comes down :D
 
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KEVD18

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im not a huge fan of long hair on an ambulance. just another weapon for a combative pt to use against you.

if you plan to work in the boston area, you will most likely be working for a private service. having worked for more than one private in the boston area, the only realy requirements are an emt ticket, drivers license and a pulse. keep your hair how you please, show up somewhat near on time and your golden.

btw, where do you plan on attending school?
 

SafetyPro2

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Full beards are pretty much never gonna be allowed out here in California due to the Cal/OSHA respiratory protection standards. Simple fact is, if you're an EMT, you have to be able to wear at least an N95 respirator, and having any facial hair in the sealing surface of the respirator precludes that.

As for hair, I've not particularly noticed long hair on any of the male EMTs or medics I've seen/worked with in either SoCal or NorCal, but not sure if that's company policy or personal preference. Many of the private ambulance guys (at least in SoCal) are trying to get hired as firefighters and tend to have short hair.
 

BossyCow

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Long hair has never been an issue with any agency I've been affiliated with as long as it doesn't become a safety issue. I think a lot of it has to do with your attitude going in. Is the focus of the interview on 'you better not make an issue of my hair' or is it on your skills and professionalism.

Beards are not generally worn because of the previously mentioned safety issues. We do have some members from British Columbia, Canada who may be able to comment on how the Sikh population up there deals with it. My guess is they use a different style of mask. I know if the agency is fire related at all, SCBA's will not work with a full beard and you have to be able to pass fit testing on both those and HEPA masks.

My own hair is long and I keep it tied back, mostly because I can't stand it in my face on a call.

Regarding the 'conformity vs individuality' issues raised by firetender, my personal opinion is how I look has very little to do with who I am. If an agency, especially a privately owned one, wants to present a certain image, regardless of what motivates that desire, I have choices. I decide which is a higher priority for me, working for that agency or a personal grooming preference. Maybe its because my personality is such that my individuality has never been questioned regardless of my appearance!
 

Phaedras

Forum Ride Along
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I wanted to thank everybody for their responses; you've all been a great help.

I had only read the first 2 responses before I went on a short trip and was somewhat discouraged...funny thing is that on my trip I decided that if taking it all off was a sacrifice I would have to make, so be it.

Now I come back and it seems there might actually be hope after all. :)

Thanks!


P.S: I'll be enrolling in Northeastern University's EMT-B program.
 

Ridryder911

EMS Guru
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I don't remember where I read this but I heard a story of a guy who had long hair and wasn't yet voted into his company yet and was told by a friend that he wasn't going to be because he had long hair, so he got some company hats and never took them off, got voted in and worked hard, never once did the company have a problem with his work or anything, then a couple years down the line he took off his hat and SURPRISE his hair was still long, nobody ever knew before that. I don't remember what happened if he stayed or not but it goes to show has prejudice people can be over something so small.
That is very similar to a old rock song from the 60's, called signs..

Signs"

And the sign said long haired freaky people need not apply So I tucked my hair up under my hat and I went in to ask him why He said you look like a fine upstanding young man, I think you'll do So I took off my hat I said imagine that, huh, me working for you woah!


I personally would not recommend wearing a hat during an interview.

R/r 911
 

babygirl2882

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ya whos it by? i like it
 
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