The News

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!

 

Common Sense

Written by Medic215 Sunday, 10 January 2010 07:56

Okay, here's the deal. If you wake up in the morning experiencing chronic pain, and chronic high blood pressure, why does that constitute an emergency today?

I recently heard an EMS radio report from a basic ambulance service that was bringing a patient to the hospital for "back pain" which had already been diagnosed as a herniated disk in his spine. When this BASIC ambulance service reported the patient's vital signs, it was a little over 200 systolic, and over 100 diastolic. The also stated that the patient had the pain for 2 days and had not taken anything for it, as well as not taken their hypertension medication.

Which begs the question. If the patient had exercised the slightest bit of common sense would an ambulance have been needed? Right now, this patient or their insurance will need to sort out the necessity and payment for services and that is what usually drives healthcare consumers about the necessity of professional medical care. What is going to happen when people have the illusion that it is free? I am referring to the universal healthcare scam that our current administration is trying to force through and sign into law. The reason I use the word "illusion" is because if you have any amount of brains, you know that NOTHING is free. Someone is going to have to pay for it. Do people actually think the government is going to pay for it? HA! If we have learned anything about out current corruption is that they pay themselves first, re-election (special interests), second, and what is left over they pump into useless government programs. History also tells us that any healthcare coverage or FORCED retirement plans are simply extra bank for them to take money from! So what makes this different? Oh ya, it's even MORE MONEY!!!

So let's employ some common sense here. If you have chronic problems and have medication to help you with them -TAKE YOUR MEDICATION AS IT WAS PRESCRIBED TO YOU! If you think universal healthcare is a going to help anyone - WAKE UP AND GET A SNIFF OF REALITY!

 

Three for one?

Last Updated on Saturday, 19 December 2009 06:53 Written by Medic215 Monday, 14 December 2009 15:13

Have you, as an EMS professional, ever been sent out in extremely hazardous weather to transfer a patient from one hospital to another? I have. Many times hospital staff know that the road/weather conditions are dangerous but they feel that it is still necessary to send these patients out. Good call or bad? Do we really want to risk the lives of three people, to take 1 patient that may or may not need to go?

 

Some would say that this would depend on the call. Does it? Is your family going to feel the same way if you do not come home from work because your local hospital didn't want to wait until conditions improved to send that angina patient to a higher level of care? Would it be different for a level 1 STEMI? I am sure that this could be viewed several different ways. Some would say that it's worth it to risk your own life to take a patient to get the level of care he/she needs. I think that it is an unnecessary risk for me AND the patient. Not all transfers are emergent, or even urgent for that matter. What about a high risk delivery? We can do "What if" all day long. But there is one simple fact. The patient is in a much more stable environment in the hospital where they are, and not out in dangerous conditions. This may be a good topic in your local EMS system to find out when you do, or when you don't transfer a patient over a long distance in poor weather, or poor road conditions.

Local calls emergent calls can usually be accomplished in winter driving conditions by use of local resources. I have been on calls where we had to have a plow lead us to the call, and back. Some of my less fortunate colleagues tried that on a rural call and ended up getting stuck at the bottom of a hill, along with the snow plow. So it doesn't ALWAYS work, but usually it's better than nothing. Luckily they had plenty of fuel and no patient on board.

 
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