I stumbled upon this video last week – The top five things Firefighters won’t tell you. You don’t have to watch it – I’m going to type them out below. While Firefighters may not want you to know these things – I think you should.
Before we start, it is clear that this video is about Firefighter Paramedics. This is a breed of medics that work for a fire department. Many fire departments have taken over EMS because…money…and boredom. Also, fire departments tend to have a leadership matrix that EMS lacks. Fire is hundreds of years old – EMS hasn’t yet made it to 75 – we need more grownups in our ranks. Except for one point that is a unique fire issue – I’m writing from an EMS perspective.
We may not know what’s wrong with you
This is because we don’t have drug tests, MRIs, CT scanners, ultrasound, or X-Rays in our ambulances. That said, in most cases, if we don’t know what is wrong with you – it isn’t likely to kill you before we get to the hospital. Which makes us wonder why you called 911 in the first place.
Something else to point out here – even if we do know what is wrong with you, EMS providers are not allowed to “diagnose.” It doesn’t matter if your arm has three new angles – I have to say “Your arm may be broken.” I cannot tell you that it is broken. This makes complete sense since I’m allowed to give medications when appropriate. I can’t diagnose, but I can treat. Brilliant.
Too many of us are out of shape
Fact. Undeniable fact.
Medics smoke, don’t exercise, and eat more processed food than the general population. Apparently dealing with America’s sickest is not a good enough warning.
The fire side of things is working on this better than EMS. They have realized that yearly fitness tests and physicals decrease injury and therefore drop insurance premiums. Money is a good motivator.
My current job is also doing well. Free gym memberships, a points competition, and insurance incentives are often the only thing that get me to the gym in the morning. That and looking at my patients.
We only work eight days a month
But those are 24 hour days so we end up working more hours than the average American. Also, we work holidays and weekends. On the 24/48 schedule, we are only off for a full weekend every three weeks. People say “long weekend” and we say “Huh, I wonder if I’m going to get holiday pay?”
Let’s talk about 24 hour shifts for a moment. Is there any other industry that thinks this is okay? I can’t think of one. In fact, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the point above can be blamed on this one. There is nothing healthy about being at work for 24 hours.
Problem: Those working the 24/48 schedule can’t afford the pay cut that would come with going to a “normal” workweek. Those paying the 24/48 employees can’t afford (or even find) the extra employees that going to a “normal” schedule would require. It is a viscous cycle.
Something else to point out – those who are working at 24/48 schedule often have part or full time jobs elsewhere. The fact that I don’t have a second job makes me rather weird.
You’re getting charged for this ambulance ride
Duh. I like getting paid. Eating is nice. So is paying rent.
I’m really confused about why the general population thinks that medical care is supposed to be free.
Here’s one I’ll tag on here – “In order for your insurance to pay for this ride, I’m going to have to lie on my report. I don’t lie on my reports.”
We don’t fight many fires anymore
It’s true. The fire department has worked themselves out of business. Most of them are quite fine with this fact. I was in a room of Paramedics last week and listened to four of them proclaim that they didn’t want to be medics at all. They were only doing EMS because it was the necessary rung on the ladder to a fire department job. In that job they would get paid to do “absolutely nothing for 24 hours.”
This is not a problem in EMS. As fire departments scramble to find things to make their existence necessary, EMS agencies are scrambling to meet the ever growing demand for service. We should probably take some hints on how to do this from the fire department.