Author Topic: Any volunteer EMTs? What do you like/not like?  (Read 539 times)

the_hobbitish

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Any volunteer EMTs? What do you like/not like?
« on: July 30, 2020, 06:05:40 AM »
I am considering becoming a volunteer EMT at my local fire department. The department runs a mix of career staff and volunteers. I have a full time job in an unrelated field and would be doing this strictly for the sense of giving back and hopefully camaraderie and not as a stepping stone to anything career-wise. I plan to do EMT-only since I don't feel called to fight fires and the training program for fire is a very lengthy commitment. The station I'm looking at pays for the 4 month EMT training. They require a minimum 20 hours/month operational and 5 admin.

I also sent some of these questions to the EMT volunteer coordinator at the station I'm interested in, but I would love to know what the experiences of my fellow mustachian volunteers/career EMTs has been like... Do you recommend it? Is there anything you wish you had known going in? Here's some of the things I'm wondering about...

  • What's the dynamic like between the volunteers and the career EMT/paramedics at your station?
  • I heard at some stations firefighter/EMTs do most of the on-site medical response and that EMT-only do mostly transport. What has your experience been like? Do you feel like you've been able to be involved and helpful?
  • What's your favorite and least favorite shifts?

jeninco

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Re: Any volunteer EMTs? What do you like/not like?
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2020, 02:09:25 PM »
I bet it varies a lot from VFD to VFD.

I'm a volunteer ski patroller, which isn't quite an EMT certification, but I patrol with loads of people who are EMTs, Volunteer Fire fighters (some for all-volunteer departments, some for mixed departments), and a couple of pro fire fighters (who are also EMTs). 

This is not the question you're asking, but I appreciate being able to be useful wherever I am -- I've splinted broken radii on the sidelines of soccer games, for instance, and then sent the families off to urgent care.

But I'd suggest getting to know some of the people at your local FD. Do you like them enough to want to spend time with them? There are probably administrative jobs you can do now that will get you in the door, and give you a chance to meet the people who cycle though there. What's the feel of the place? Does it seem like everyone belongs?

Pigeon

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Re: Any volunteer EMTs? What do you like/not like?
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2020, 07:37:08 AM »
While I'm sure it varies tremendously from department to department, my  daughter thought she would like being an EMT/paramedic, went through the certification for EMT-B and got a paid position with a local EMS service, with an eye to getting paramedic certification when she had the requisite EMT experience under her belt.  Around here, EMS is not typically done with fire.  There were a few volunteers in the service.

What she found was that it was a very uncomfortable work environment, with levels of blatant sexual harassment and racism that were reminiscent of the 1950s.  From discussions with other folks she'd met during certification, that seems to be pretty common with local services around here, not just hers.

In her service, there was an EMT-B and a paramedic working together on each call.  Which one lead the call depended on the type of call.  The volunteers were all EMT-Bs, and weren't treated much differently than the paid staff.

She decided to go to nursing school instead after a few months.


the_hobbitish

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Re: Any volunteer EMTs? What do you like/not like?
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2020, 07:22:11 AM »
I went in to do my fingerprinting for the background check and got a lot of good background information about the local departments, including the one I plan to join. It sounds like the department I'm going has a really great volunteer program manager that's trying to build the volunteer staff at the station and has done a great job fostering a good career to volunteer culture. Some other stations in the area - not so much. I'm still planning to move forward with giving it a try.

jeninco

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Re: Any volunteer EMTs? What do you like/not like?
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2020, 06:21:48 PM »
I went in to do my fingerprinting for the background check and got a lot of good background information about the local departments, including the one I plan to join. It sounds like the department I'm going has a really great volunteer program manager that's trying to build the volunteer staff at the station and has done a great job fostering a good career to volunteer culture. Some other stations in the area - not so much. I'm still planning to move forward with giving it a try.

Awesome! I hope it's a blast -- it's pretty awesome to walk around with first responder skills, and the volunteering is enormously satisfying.

I hope things go really well, and ... can I just add, please be the change you want to see. In my patrol, there are a couple of older guys who have low-key called out sexist behavior when it happens, and it really sets the tone of the whole organization up a ton.

AardvarkPuppies

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Re: Any volunteer EMTs? What do you like/not like?
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2020, 04:55:39 AM »
Hey this is right up my alley!

I spent a couple years "working" as a volunteer EMT.  The service I worked for was an all volunteer service in a very rural area.  We received a small stipend paid per call.  We responded from home and would have a day shift and a night shift during the week.  Weekends were 24 hour shifts for us.  Call volume was approximately 500 per year for that service.

There was a good sense of camaraderie, and a lot of the people I worked with had been doing it for decades.   I got my feet wet, which was what I wanted to do, and ultimately decided to jump headfirst into the field.  I've been a career firefighter in a large metro area for the last 7 years now.

I think you will likely just have to give it a go to get a true representation of what it's like.  Everywhere is a little (or a lot) different, even when you're comparing departments in my metro area. 

I also spent some time as a volunteer for a combination department when I got out of the academy.  It was fine.  I rode as additional manpower on the truck, and for that small department, any extra set of hands is a bonus.

Staffing for services that use volunteers is always tough, as well as retaining volunteers.  I'm sure they would be fairly accommodating to get the help.   Have fun with it, learn from the guys who have been doing it a while, the guys who do it as a career, and be safe at it.

the_hobbitish

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Re: Any volunteer EMTs? What do you like/not like?
« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2020, 09:03:20 AM »
My application is in and I'm waiting on the background check to process. I'm excited to take the leap and give it a try.