Pondering a return

Written by Medic215 Friday, 21 January 2011 15:10

It has been just over a year since I have worked for any EMS agency. I know some medics who have gone years before coming back. What is it that draws us back into it? Certainly not the pay or the soreness that comes as a result of common strains of the job. Maybe it's the cold Iowa winter weather. No, that's DEFINITELY not it! Nonetheless I do miss it. I have enjoyed the peace that comes with my I.T. career, controlled environment, steady income as well as holidays and weekends with my family. I am contemplating a return to the private service that I have worked for in the past. My passion is truly a volunteer EMS provider, however, I don't live in the ideal place to fulfill that passion. It's not as if I really make a profit working for the private service here in our town that is the primary 911 provider. In fact, the last year i worked there it cost more to work there than I made working there. Of course that includes the continuing education that was not provided by the company, so I had to foot that bill myself and utilize paid vacation from my full time employment to cover it. Digging deep down within myself to find the true reason I miss it I find myself in the same frame of mind that got me into EMS to begin with. I love helping others. I enjoy that fast pace, the environment, the comradery with co-workers, community involvement and keeping my skills fresh. Like it says at the top of this page, it's not JUST a job - it's a way of life. For many EMS providers that make it past their first few years it becomes a part of your identity. When I hear the calls that my ex-coworkers are taking I want to be there with them. I want to help them help the patient. I want help keep them safe. I want to be there for them when they experience a difficult situation to listen to them talk and offer advice, friendship, confidence, reassurance or just to be their sounding board. My passion for EMS is as much for my co-providers as it is for the patients. I think that makes any of the undesirable things tolerable. In EMS there is a lot of undesirable conditions/situations. A good medic not only recognizes when things are bad, but does not get overwhelmed and can keep cool and collected with the fecal matter hits the fan. It would be easier if I could make a list of my favorite things about EMS and my least favorite things and use that to make a decision. But the truth is, if it weren't for the "undesirable" or "less than ideal" situations, it wouldn't be as rewarding. So perhaps my mind is made. I don't know. I'll continue to ponder. Since I am starting to remind myself of Brett Favre, I should sign off.

To all of my EMS family, I will be praying for you. Please let me know what you think.


Flight Lessons

Last Updated on Friday, 21 January 2011 15:34 Written by Medic215 Tuesday, 18 January 2011 17:22

Yes, my insatiable appetite for learning and a good challenge strike again. The past summer I started taking lessons to, yes, fly a plane. I am a firm believer that if you put your mind to accomplishing goals, you will, God-willing, do just that. I have started a blog on this site to relate my thoughts and ideas as they track with my progression through the training. I am starting this late so I have some catching up to do! I hope to have all of my pre-solo blog done before my first solo flight. If this interests you, check back now and again and read up. Even if your not interested, please read it anyway!


Private Ambulance Services

Last Updated on Saturday, 13 March 2010 14:12 Written by medic215 Friday, 12 March 2010 15:11

I will start this topic off by saying that the title does sound like a generalization for all private ambulance services. I do not mean it to be. It is simply my experience with two private ambulance services here in Iowa.

When I first entered the field of EMS I was quite excited for 2 reasons. The first reason is because I wanted to help people in there times of dire need of help. I wanted to make a positive difference in the lives of everyone I came in contact with as an EMS professional. The second reason is because it looked like a lot more fun than nursing. I was, at the time, a CNA and taking prereqs for nursing school.

I finished my initial EMT training in 1995, shortly after high school graduation. I was a volunteer EMT for 2 local municipal services, and a volunteer firefighter for one of them. It was, for the most part, a great experience. I also found myself working as a EMT/Security officer at a nearby gaming establishment.

After 2 1/2 years I decided it was time to go back to school and make a career of EMS. I did just that and received my Paramedic certification in November of 1999. I had done some other college and EMT-I training in 1998. When I was done, I had a job lined up at a private ambulance service in Des Moines. The hiring process was a snap. I called and asked if they were hiring, they asked me to come fill out an application for employment. The next day I went to their location, filled out the application and was immediately (without interview) given a W4 form and asked when I could start. Wow, here i was, fresh out of school and already starting my "new career"!

During my employment at that private ambulance service, I experienced a lot of sad realities. I found myself working up to 9 24hr shifts back-to-back, sleeping in the ambulance bay (because it was where the beds were), working in ambulances with several hundred thousand miles on the odometers and in poor mechanical condition. I even sat for 3 days at the Iowa State Fair in a 1974 ambulance with no air conditioning. It was over 90 degrees every one of those days. I had several heat related emergencies that we transported to a hospital nearby and really had no ability to remove them from the hot environment. The service provided no continuing education hours to keep my certification current, nor reimbursement of the same. The ambulances were equipped with very old and some non-working equipment. On top of the poor working conditions, I was sometimes not paid on time. I once went over a month without a paycheck with the promise of every time I came in the next time, it would be waiting for me. After being suspended for 3 day because I would not work a holiday shift in which I was not scheduled for, I resigned. A couple years later, that service went out-of-business and still owes several ex-employees money, me being one of them.

My next job was at yet another private ambulance service with some of the same problems. Those problems include bad equipment, including ambulances in poor mechanical condition and several hundred thousand miles, very poor middle management, and inadequate continuing education. This one was slightly better because even though the pay was far below the national average, I was always paid on time. Where I work, for this service, is a remote location of the main location as we are a contract service for a city that does not have their own EMS transport services, yet.

With the municipal services I was on, we had modern equipment, ambulances in good mechanical shape and well maintained, and continuing education was provided. Now, this was a volunteer service, but I know people who are on paid municipal services who not only have their minimum continuing education provided, but they also have better salaries and benefits than the two private ambulance services that I worked/work for.

In closing I would like to offer some advice to new grads, or anyone looking for new employment in EMS. Compare and contrast salary and benefits with each place you are considering. If you know someone who works for that service, ask them about their experience. You do not want to be miserable where you work. It's not worth it. EMS is a stressful enough profession without having to be stressed by your employer on top of it. If it's a private service (especially in Iowa), be leery. Ask to see the equipment, crew quarters, and ambulance odometers. Don't get yourself stuck on a dark road, in the middle of a winter night, stranded in a clunker ambulance because your employer doesn't care enough about their own reputation to provide you with DEPENDABLE tools to help you make money for THEM!


I.V. Drip Rate Calculator

Last Updated on Monday, 14 December 2009 15:15 Written by Medic215 Saturday, 12 December 2009 11:13

I now have my I.V. drip rate calculator moved to this new site. It is designed for calculation of non-medicated IV's, but can be used for any calculation when trying to set the drip rate based on how many milliliters given over a specified number of minutes. The result will tell you how many drops per minute to set your IV with certain drip sets. Check it out!



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