In July 2009, I celebrated my twentieth year in EMS/ER (collectively). When I started this journey I had visions of Roy and Johnny (“Emergency!”), and always thought that EMS had to be the coolest job anyone could ever do. Not the firefighter part of course … using the defibrillator, cracking the drug box … that stuff. So I joined a volunteer EMS group (with the police department) in the thumb area of Michigan, and my life has never been the same.
Sometimes when I’m working ER I hear the same idealized versions and visions of emergency medicine presented to me by EMT students. They are fresh faced, full of expectations, 99% wanting to be firefighters, of course, and all expecting to be, in someone’s eyes, heroes. Many will be burned out and gone before they hit five years in ‘the business.’ Some will move on to management and do a 180 degree flip to see EMS from the business side instead of the life the guy on the road lives. Some use EMS as a stepping stone to get into nursing or med school. But if they last even a year or two, they will get a taste of what life is really all about. If nothing else, hopefully they will develop a cast-iron stomach and a heck of a strong sense of humor.