Sunday, May 10, 2015

EMS pay and dangers.

I have been a member of emergency medical services since 2006. I have worked or do work in a volunteer based service ,private for profit based and County government affiliated EMS system. Prior to that I spent 22 years in one of the most dangerous and demanding jobs in the United States Military. Where real life and death decisions were made in training and combat on a regular basis. Where people died on training jumps and by the hand of the enemy. So I am going to lay out some truth here.

Truth #1
EMS providers are not "heroes". Individual providers may do heroic deeds but 99% of the time the job is pretty mundane. Are we any more heroic than a nurse or doctor if all we do is establish an IV and administer some pain medication? The answer is no. In those situations EMS providers are doing the job they are paid for. Before anyone gets their panties in a bunch I also wholeheartedly think the term "hero" and the phrase "thank you for your service" are terribly overused in the context of our military as well. It is all very disingenuous. Heroes do heroic things. This is heroic: Benevidez MOH Citation as is this Medic refuses to leave man with grenade lodged in leg. Putting a pressure dressing on a laceration is not.

EMS providers pay is for shit. As a Paramedic I get paid between $10-$13 per hour. At the security firm I manage an individual can walk in off the street and with a high school diploma or GED and make the same amount to guard a pallet of bananas. I had to go through thousands of hours of training, spend thousands of dollars on tuition and have to attend continuing education to maintain my proficiency. Depending on the call I may literally have someones life in my hands or have to dispense narcotics or other drugs. I was once told that you get paid for responsibility and not how hard you work. This holds true in most professions but not EMS. Most EMS providers I know work at least 2 jobs to stay afloat. I personally work a full time job in the security industry and two parttime EMS assignments. The pay levels are abysmal.


Truth #2 is more than likely because of a actual or perceived lack of professionalism within our own ranks. EMS in the United States needs to raise the bar of professionalism. Volunteers and paid services should be held to the same standards. At a minimum it should be required that a Paramedic acquire an associates degree. Pay should be based on experience and training much like nurses. To advance you should be encouraged to get a B.S. As long as EMS providers wear shirts like this:

We will never be taken seriously. EMS needs to UFY

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