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5 signs you were meant to be a paramedic

If you have any of these signs, then it’s time to face the music and accept your destiny to become a paramedic


Medics catching some sleep in the ambulance between calls

Image WFTV Channel 9 Facebook

By Sean Eddy

We all have our callings in life. Some people were born to be doctors or teachers, others were meant to be athletes or movie stars.

Then there’s this other group of people ... It’s a group that we know very little about. They come from all walks of life, and are just barely sane enough to fit in with society. If you’ve ever worked in EMS or public safety, then you know exactly who I’m talking about.

I’m referring to the men and women of EMS. The ones who view easy jobs as weakness, and hard times as a badge of honor. It’s no secret that it takes a special kind of person to do this line of work. The big question is determining if you are one of the “select few” who are truly cut out to combat disease and natural selection for living. To help you decide, I created this list of five signs you were meant to be a paramedic.

1. You Have a Habit of Breaking Things

This may sound counterintuitive being that our job is to help fix people, but when it comes to inanimate objects like equipment and vehicles, we do just the opposite. Actually, experts in the industry have concluded through extensive studies that if you were to put a paramedic in a room with nothing but two bowling balls and return in an hour, you would find one to be missing and the other to be broken.

Ever heard of something being truly paramedic proof? Neither have I.

2. You Can Sleep Anywhere

This is a MUST in EMS. Given the nature of our work, you have to learn to sleep when you can. Having this ability will prove to pay off handsomely! Nodding off in the passenger seat of an ambulance while returning from a long distance transfer, laying down on the cot during an extended standby and even laying your head down on the table in a hospital break room are just a few examples of scenarios you will find yourself in.

I used to carry my own adult cervical collar to wear during the night shift to prevent my head from bobbing around as I passed out in the upright position in the early morning hours waiting for our shift to end. But that doesn’t even hold a candle to my personal best sleeping achievement ... story time!

A number of years back, I found myself working as a standby crew on a wildland fire. For a large portion of the shift, I was required to stand outside of a temporary building. After 18+ hours of being on my feet and having showed up after only a couple hours of sleep, I had to come up with SOMETHING. I grabbed a backboard, and a couple triage-tent spikes. I leaned the board at about a 40-degree angle against the building and used the spikes to stop the board from sliding. I laid down on the board and strapped my waist in to prevent from rolling off.

3. You Have an Iron Stomach

Bad coffee, old sandwiches, free donuts and 7-11 hotdogs are all items that can find themselves cozying up to the lining in your stomach. These aren’t things that just anyone can ingest on a regular basis without having to stay within a 20-foot radius of a restroom. If you can tolerate these foods, then you are prime time for a job in EMS. Having said that, you’re still going to need some serious conditioning to work yourself up to free hospital food.

4. You View HR Policies as “Suggestions”

I struggled with a way to word this in the most politically correct way possible. Our line of work comes with a sense of crude humor that simply isn’t understood by the general public. We joke with each other in ways that would place administrators of any other industry at a high risk for stroke and heart attack. You know you’ve started your paramedic career when your HR manager follows up your official policy orientation speech with “granted, this is EMS...”

5. You Enjoy Arguing With Voices on the Radio

If you are already proficient in the art of one-way arguments — where the voice coming through your speakers can’t hear you — then you are already well on your way to a successful career in EMS. The feuds between dispatch and field employees date back further than fighting in the Middle East. A bonus trait would be the ability to know how to do somebody’s job without actually having done it. However, to achieve true elite status, you have to be able to recover from accidentally cueing up your microphone while making said statements without facing disciplinary action.

If you are currently exhibiting any of these signs, then it’s time to face the music and accept your destiny. Fighting only makes it worse ...

This article, originally published on July 10, 2016 has been updated.

Uniform Stories features a variety of contributors. These sources are experts and educators within their profession. Uniform Stories covers an array of subjects like field stories, entertaining anecdotes, and expert opinions.