WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE ON THE JOB
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a common question that we all get starting from the time we know how to talk. Our answers start with things like cowboy and princess, then move on to doctor and professional athlete, but when it comes time to actually make a decision about our future, that question starts to get a little bit harder to answer. One way to help make that choice a little easier is knowing more about the positions that interest you. What are the everyday tasks of a princess? Knowing the details of a position can help you make the tough decision about your future.
SERVING YOUR COMMUNITY: PARAMEDICS
The day to day responsibilities of any position are important to know about before getting into any field. As a paramedic, these responsibilities can even be life or death. Take a look at a day in the life of a paramedic and find out if it could be the path for you. Working in the suburbs of Chicago, the paramedics has a lot to say about his time on the job. Here’s what his typical day looks like.
LIFE AS A PARAMEDIC
“I work as a Paramedic with a EMT-B. An EMT-B is an Emergency Medical Technician with Basic Responsibilities. This team member assists paramedics with more basic things like bandaging wounds and stabilizing a patient, and has less training than a paramedic.
I typically work 3 to 4 12 hour shifts each week. At the start of every shift, we have to check out the ambulance itself: fluid levels, emergency lights, and sirens all have to be inspected. Then I go into the back of the vehicle and make sure we have all the equipment and supplies we need to run calls. Things like medication, oxygen tanks, batteries for the cardiac monitor, and various other materials are important to have on hand at all times, and it’s our responsibility to make sure they are stocked.
The most common calls we get are BLS Basic Life Support. These calls consist of either taking a patient to or from doctors offices, hospitals, or other facilities that they would be unable to reach by themselves. We average about 4 to 5 of these calls in a 12 hour shift.
ALS Advanced Life Support calls are emergency calls. Taking people from nursing homes to their houses or from one hospital to another in a timely manner and giving the proper care like starting IVs and giving fluids, providing oxygen, or placing them on a cardiac monitor. We get anywhere between 1 to 4 of these in a 12 hour shift.
After either of these calls are finished, a run report must be completed to document everything that happened on the call. Everything from where we picked up the patient to their vital signs and the drugs we gave them and the care we rendered must be documented. This is called a PCR patient care report. This paperwork is a huge part of ems because it’s used as a reference for doctors and nurses who provide care after our part is finished. The PCR its the starting point for the care that the patient will be given at the hospital.
When we aren’t doing PCR reports or on calls, downtime is spent waiting in the ambulance for calls to come in. The company that I work for is a “Post and Wait” company. We cover a large area and have three stations that are many miles away from one another. We are told to “Post” at a major crossroad or a hospital we frequent, and wait. During this time we can read, study, play games, watch movies or shows, get food, or even sleep.
Calls are given via pagers like the old ones your parents used to carry around. We are given a address and a time to pick up the patient, and then dispatch will call the crew on the radio and tell us what is going on with the patient, in some cases, when we are already on our way. We never know what to expect on a call, but we are prepared for anything.”