So you want a career in EMS? Both of the rural stations where I work have been hiring. You’ll be called for an interview a week or two after you turn in an app, and then set down in our meeting room amidst four very serious faces and asked a host of enlightening questions. Something like this:
Why do you want to do this job?
Tell us about a moment where your training failed you
Do you consider yourself to have good leadership skills?
Etc etc etc.
Good grief, I say to the hubby (also the fire chief) can you not ask a single question that matters?
Such as . . .
1.) Well, can you lift? And I don’t mean a little. The cot alone weighs a hundred and twenty pounds and the majority of your patients will be something more than petite. They’ll be upstairs, all of them. Or at least those who aren’t in the basement, under the front deck, on the roof, down a well. What they will never be is standing in the front yard waiting for you.
2.) How do you respond to vomit? Projectile. Large quantities. In your hair, on your shoes, down your shirtfront. You’re no help to anyone if the patient causes you to be the second patient.
3.) Can you back up? I know that sounds simple and I’m sure you’ve backed out of your driveway a gazillion times. But here – can you back an ambulance? Down a narrow twisty farm lane in a blizzard? Up a hill, down a tow path and – most important of all – into the bay at your station?
The chief cries real tears if you ding the rig.
4.) You’re not afraid to go back to school, are you? A lot of us go for the paramedic, but even those of us who don’t are training on a very consistent basis. So – meetings, meetings, meetings. Classrooms, skills tests, recertifications. Even when you’re beat, even when you’re just off shift or it’s supposed to be your free weekend (ha). Even when, God help us, there is no coffee to be had at the station.
5.) Which brings us to – are you a coffee drinker? Please just nod yes. Dunkins, Starbucks, Peets, plain old Folgers. It is the all-important elixir of life. You must brew a pot immediately upon reaching the station and then you must keep it going all day and most of the night. If, Heaven forbid, you should break the pot, you’ll need to get somebody to cover your shift while you run to Walmart. Pick up some Dunkins on the way home so we don’t have to wait for the next pot to brew.
6.) Oddly enough – but you’ll get used to this, trust me – the next question has to do with sleep. Can you sleep any time of the day or night? More or less at the drop of a hat? Oh, and can you rebound from said sleep and be at the rig in seconds flat?
Lift, wipe up the vomit, back the rig, go to meetings, coffee-coffee-coffee, sleep-sleep-sleep. That’s about it! If you’re still with us, welcome aboard.
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