Work Week: My job as an EMT

work week EMT

It's Work Week on AOA. We'll be talking with people about their jobs and working. Part of that includes anonymous conversations with people about what it's like to do their jobs.

Next Up: The EMT.

This Capital Region EMT talks about gray areas, problem drivers, and being woken up in the middle of the night...

Describe your job in five words or less.

Fun, different, busy, and challenging.

Go through your daily duties. What does a typical shift look like?

You come in about 30 minutes early, get your uniform squared away, sign up for a bunk and check your crew assignment. You punch in, check your rig, top to bottom -- everything from the oil to the expiration dates on the bottles of saline. Then take care of the station. The station bathrooms, floors, kitchen, and bunk rooms get cleaned every shift -- no matter their condition when you get in. They could be spotless and you still have to clean them.

Once the easy stuff is out of the way comes the waiting. Typically you are going to be going on a call once every 1-2 hours. You can either be a transport car going back and forth from hospital to hospital or you are going on 911 calls all day, it just depend what shift you are assigned that day.

At night it is all 911 calls. Although sleeping is allowed, you can be woken up at any time - and you will wake up, guaranteed (there's a flashing light and a very loud phone goes off). It could be 30 minutes after you fall asleep or it could be 4 hours, but a whole night shift of sleep never happens.

At night it is all 911 calls. Although sleeping is allowed, you can be woken up at any time -- and you will wake up, guaranteed (there's a flashing light and a very loud phone goes off). It could be 30 minutes after you fall asleep or it could be 4 hours, but a whole night shift of sleep never happens. You usually get four hours max -- and that's rare. You get used to it. It becomes something you know you have to do.

Any stories?

We get called for everything -- serious or not. This is honestly one of the hardest aspects of the job. Some people really need to go to the hospital -- and some probably don't. They will "decide" they need to go and you can't tell people they don't actually need to -- it's a huge gray area.

For example: A guy will call at three in the morning and say he's having a panic attack and refuses to walk out of his house.

This is honestly one of the hardest aspects of the job. Some people really need to go to the hospital -- and some probably don't. They will "decide" they need to go and you can't tell people they don't actually need to -- it's a huge gray area.

As for the more serious situations -- a car crash, stroke, gunshot wound, or fall -- you never "decide" when that happens.

What do you actually do versus what people think you do?

People think we run around all day saving lives, but most of our calls are just dealing with everyday medical needs -- elderly patients, transport calls, or easily-treatable conditions. We do have those serious get-to-the-hospital-as-quick-as-you-can calls, but not as frequently as people might think.

Even though you are an emergency vehicle, some people will have no respect for you. Just the other day I needed to merge into the other lane and a guy sped up to block me out and then flipped me off.

Is there anything about your job that would surprise people if they found out?

Even though you are an emergency vehicle, some people will have no respect for you. Just the other day I needed to merge into the other lane and a guy sped up to block me out and then flipped me off. He then turned onto a side street two blocks after.

Another time, a kid just walked up to the ambulance at a red light and punched the side of the ambulance then walked away. That kind of stuff always blows my mind.

What's your favorite part about your job?

I don't have to sit at a desk all day.

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