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5 Things I Learned My First Year as a Paramedic

  • 1. I knew everything I needed to know about being a Paramedic in class.

Some people call it Paragod Syndrome, and yes folks, I unfortunately had this problem too. I thought I was so cool. I bought a pair of nice new shades, got a new hairstyle, and began taking numbers. In fact, I remember calling my parter who was in the back of the unit, asking him to come to the front to collect some trash for me. Terrible, right?? Yeah, I thought my stuff didn’t stink. To my credit, I vowed not to be so obsessive that would make my EMT partner wrap up the EKG electrodes counter clockwise and yeah, I did actually help clean the unit. But I was definitely in LOVE with my new equipment, my ambulance and drugbox from which I could literally pick who lived and who died.

  • 2. I did not know everything I needed to know about being a Paramedic in class.

Boy was I wrong!!?? No longer than a few days after becoming a paramedic, I was smacked back into reality and it wasn’t because of anything having to do with patient care, but with following proper protocol. I forgot to fill out any billing information on the forms resulting in some critical billing issues, which were fortunately later sorted out. A simple mistake, but it brought me down a notch. And then, I further got brought down when a fellow medic showed me a better technique at starting an IV because I had missed more than a few. And then, I learned how hard it actually was to truly read an EKG on a live patient. The nurses and doctors at the receiving facility were especially helpful. And so I quickly became humbled.

  • 3. Being a Paramedic, I Didn’t Need to Drive Anymore

Wrong! There is nothing worse than having an EMT partner completely exhausted from driving ALL day and ALL night! I started to feel really bad about making my partner drive. I didn’t want to take any chance at an accident happening. So I made sure to help with driving whenever I had my fair share of relaxing. I also never fell asleep while my partner was driving.

  • 4. EMTs Don’t Know as Much as Paramedics.

Wrong Again! Many EMTs have more knowledge than their Paramedic partners. Especially the old-timers. They were so good at anticipating the job of a Paramedic, that you didn’t really even have to think too much. Many EMTs actually go to Paramedic school but don’t finish for one reason or another. And no, it isn’t even generally because of the fact that they failed out, but it’s because most of them had a situation where life got the best of them. Perhaps it was a divorce or an issue with their children or family. Medic school is a big commitment and it requires a lot of TIME. Some people really have more important things in their lives to do besides Paramedic school. For me, I was luckily in a good enough position and had a wife who was patient enough with me to be able to go through the process. But besides this, many EMTs have other specialized knowledge in operations, process, other subjects, or just life in general, where they will far exceed the knowledge of some Paramedics.

  • 5. Being a Paramedic is a Life Long Learning Process

So what I concluded after my first year of being a Paramedic was that being a Paramedic is a life long learning process. Meaning that it would be impossible to know everything in an instant. Heck, all these years later, I’m still learning everyday.

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Ruben Major
Editor in Chief at EMS Wire
Ruben began his career in Emergency Medical Services in 2000. He holds a Master's Degree in Military History and has experience as a Paramedic and EMS Supervisor in the field. He has taught CPR and First Aid Programs for several years. Ruben spent 2 years as Program Director for an EMS/Paramedic Program in the valley prior to working as Program Director for EMS University in Phoenix, Arizona. Ruben has published several articles on public safety and Emergency Medical Services in several prominent magazines and is responsible for creating the nation's first Native American APCO EMD Program. Ruben is currently seeking a Juris Doctor from Concord Law School. He has served
as CEO of EMS University since 2003 and is Editor in Chief at EMS Wire. Ruben enjoys astronomy, bicycling, hiking, other outdoor activities, and spending time with his family.

EMT-B, Mesa Community College (2000)
EMT-Paramedic, E-Med., Inc. (2002)
A.A., General Studies - Scottsdale Community College (2003)
B.A., History - Arizona State University (2003)
M.A., Military History - Norwich University (2008)
J.D., Candidate - Concord Law School (Class of 2016)

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