What are you bringing to work with you?

EMS providers try to leave the stresses of the job at the door, but it’s also important to leave personal issues at home and not let them impact performance and patient care


This job can be trying at times ... so can life.

We’re more apt to talk about the stress that we endure while at work, but not as likely to talk about the stress that we endure while at home, and sometimes, we bring our home to work with us.

When you show up for work, you may begin a daily ritual that is getting into your workflow. You grab your gear, do your rig checks, maybe grab some coffee (if you haven’t already drank an entire pot), and sit down for a daily briefing. You do what you can (and need to do) to get 100% into work mode.

We’re more apt to talk about the stress that we endure while at work, but not as likely to talk about the stress that we endure while at home, and sometimes, we bring our home to work with us. (Photo/University of Alabama at Birmingham)
We’re more apt to talk about the stress that we endure while at work, but not as likely to talk about the stress that we endure while at home, and sometimes, we bring our home to work with us. (Photo/University of Alabama at Birmingham)

Sometimes, however, you remain distracted. Sometimes, you bring your home to work with you. Here are a few of the aspects of your home life that could be impacting your performance at work.

  • Relationships. Whether you’re in the dating scene, married or divorced, it’s hard to avoid talking about one of the most important aspects of your life with your EMS partner, especially if you spend hundreds of hours with them each year (or month).

Starting a new relationship can be exciting, ending one can be terrifying, and all of the emotions in between there can easily follow you to work (to a job, by the way, that requires clear thinking and precise decision making).

At the end of the day, we often stress that we should leave work at the door as we arrive at our homes. Well, the same could be said for the opposite – leaving home at the door while we arrive at work.

  • Children. Missed holidays, re-scheduled birthday parties and losing precious moments; these occurrences are all a reality of working within our industry. But I hate to break it to you ... we’re not the only ones who face this.

Dual-income families, regardless of the industry in which they work, will always have to juggle the life balance which is raising a child (or multiple children). Who is picking up who, and when? What about daycare? Can we afford to keep a spouse at home? Which days do I have custody, again?

While these may reflect some of the more negative aspects of having children while trying to work, there are certainly a significant number of positive experiences that we all encounter (and bring to work with us, too). In any event, the stress of factoring in the welfare of another human being can certainly take its toll on your own emotional wellbeing, sleep patterns and time commitments.

  • Finances. EMS is notorious for being a sub-paid profession. Yet, we all still choose this job or career field and take on the responsibility of knowing what we’re getting into. Bills can add up, expenses arise at each turn and debt can lurk within even the most conservative of lifestyles. It seems natural to blame our boss. After all, the company is the one not paying you enough money, right?

Can I make my mortgage payment this month? Will I be able to afford a car payment? How about paying for your daughter’s braces, or your son’s tuition or even a family vacation?

Yes, money does come from your boss – your employer – but how you manage your money, how you spend it, and the opportunities that you might turn down to make more money don’t rest on the shoulders of your employer.

If only making $35,000 in Los Angeles isn’t enough to pay the bills, then consider a move. I understand that it’s easier said than done, but the fact is, if you’re only going to make “x” amount of money, and it’s not enough, something needs to change.

Keep your focus on patient care

I would love to spend my spare time on duty doing some very (emphasis on very) amateur wood working, or bring my car into the apparatus bay for a wash, or work on some articles or side projects. Some of my employers have allowed these activities, but, by no means were any of these extracurriculars guaranteed.

There’s something to be said about the strong cohesion and bonds that are built amongst partners and crews within the emergency services field; they can certainly be invaluable.

When you’re on the clock, you’re being paid with one focus in mind ... production. Professional development, task accomplishment, response to calls and adequate rest before the next call are all aspects of production within EMS. We owe it to our employers, our crews and our patients to make this the focus of our day, not planning ahead for your day off, instead.

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