Question Regarding Med Disqualification


Forum Ride Along
Hey everyone, I had a question about DQs in the EMS field. I'm a combat vet, recently separated from the military with an honorable discharge but for about 10 months or so I was taking low doses of citalopram and ambien following my first deployment. I was never admitted to any psych ward and I've never harmed myself or had suicidal thoughts. My primary problem was getting sleep; my doctor never diagnosed me with depression- he simply suggested I take an SSRI to assist my sleeping pattern due to combat related anxiety. It never stopped me from doing my job or anything, just had a rough patch in my younger years. Now I'm a civilian and EMT-B certified and concerned this could be detrimental to my future career in EMS (I hope to work as an EMTB and work towards my paramedic), possibly taking a fire department route at some point. Is this cause for concern? I'm aware ADA and HIPAA should help, but I'm just trying to think about any issues I may come across. And before I'm told I need to be comfortable with the stressors of dead bodies, blood and gore, etc- I got a good grip on it over my time in service and it's been dealt with in the past and treated accordingly. I've had no problems with death in my 2nd or 3rd combat trips.

TLDR: Is a brief hx of antidepressant reason to not be hired as an EMTB/P?


Forum Troll
Seconded for what DEmedic said.


Forum Asst. Chief
Dude, between a couple of really bad calls and the death of my wife last year I'm heavily medicated and in treatment and still working without problems full-time and starting school for my ACP in a few weeks. Like any person with a medical condition, you decide in conjunction with your HCP's whether you're healthy enough for the job. Just as I would argue epilepsy is a high risk condition for this profession, I would also argue that some mental health diagnosis are high risk as well. But these are extreme; the vast majority of people with minor or even moderate medical problems whether mind or body can be successful in this profession. They may face greater or different challenges but it's not for the state to set a blanket requirement.

That being said, I'd like to share an example I'm familiar with that illustrates a very poor way to handle entering Paramedicine when you have concerns about your mental health. Recently a Paramedic student riding with a crew I'm familiar with was facing a great deal of challenges progressing during their preceptorship and the working relationship between the student and preceptors was deteriorating. The student wasn't receptive feedback and the Preceptor (who I'd like to stress is an extremely educated, patient professional, who I have a great deal of respect for) was growing frustrated.

Following a call, they were preparing to debrief the student and discuss some remediation when they was asked to sign their spot on the form. Seeing their name spelt wrong lead to an angry outburst. The crew asked them to call it a day and that they'd follow-up after everyone had a chance to call the College and discuss the issue. Student than uttered they had intended to steal meds from the Ambulance to attempt suicide, that they knew what they were doing nor would it be their first time. Superintendent and Police called, student formed and brought to Hospital. Removed from precepting by the service and from the program by the school. Comes out through a few familiar sources that this person had a Dx of Borderline Personality Disorder among others and was not currently under the care of an MD or MH professional. Leaving aside the wisdom of someone with BPD entering this particular professional, it certainly isn't a good idea to make such a major life change without a firm handle on your condition and all the supports you need in your life in place.