Sometimes I Drive the Ambulance (but I’m not an ambulance driver)

September 5th, 2011 Comments

Paramedics and EMTs were drawn to EMS for various reasons.  Obviously there is the excitement, the variety, and the opportunities to help people.  EMS workers are usually lumped in with the other helping professions: Physicians, Nurses, Firefighters, and even Police Officers.  In fact, when you talk to any of these folks, you’ll find the overwhelming majority are motivated to help people. Something has changed in the last 30 years, and I’ve been trying to put my finger on it.  My first experiences in emergency services were with organizations that truly sought to help people in need.  Whether working for a government agency, or a for-profit ambulance company, there seemed to be a push to help people.

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  1. Emtgal25 says:

    Very interesting article! May I ask what state you reside in? Many things that you have shared are very different from what I experience in SC as a Paramedic. For the private service here, the pay is much more, and the benefits are much better than those of county EMS. Some county EMS require you work overnight and only pay if you get a call. Its really a huge difference between private, and state employment. The need of medics are very high in SC, and the high demand makes it comfortable knowing your job isn’t going to be cut tomorrow. Also, medics are able to challenge the RN exam. If one finds being an EMT is not their cup of tea, or they have advanced as much as they can, there’s always the RN challenge. 🙂

    1. gwalter says:

      Interesting. I’d be curious as to how much medics make there. Here on the West Coast, public EMS professionals are making $80-100k/yr. Private medics make about $60kyr.. RNs are closer to the $100k/yr.

      For me though, more than pay, it’s about respect, professionalism, and teamwork.

      Just a few days ago, I overheard an ED RN refer to us as “the ambulance drivers” to a patient. #sigh

  2. Ttollef1 says:

    In Olso Norway were are going to a Bach. Paramedic program to standardize the system which may help a system that has no real system now. I’ve always thought there should be more organization in education systems in the states. Good to hear medics get paid ok in CA because I am looking to get back to the states.

    1. gwalter says:

      Well, I’m not so sure private ambulance medics get paid well anywhere – it is improving, but we have a long way to go.

      1. jray says:

        I work as a Paramedic for both a Private services (part-time) and a Fire service full time as a Firefighter/Paramedic in Maryland. If I break down my salary to hourly rates, I make a little over $6 more an hour at the Private service. Even if they were taking out money for Health, dental, vision, life, and retirement I would still end up ahead at the private service. 

        1. gwalter says:

          Yeah, I understand public service providers don’t pay as well on the east coast – but I might be wrong?

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