10 Tips for Longevity in EMS

1Anchorage-DL096263bw-tYou’ve finished your class. Your NREMT card came in the mail. The only thing left to do is to ride off into the sunset saving lives….

Not so fast.

EMS seems challenging and fast-paced. That’s most likely why you’re here. When the ink on your card has dried, and you have one really bad call combined with ‘way too many routine calls, what do you do to stay the course?

You, your patients and your partner deserve the best. Here are our 10 tips to keep you going for the long haul.

1. EMS can be a passion and still not be your whole life.

Seek balance. EMS can survive without you. You need to be able to have a full life outside the station.

2. Get a mentor. Be a mentor.

The best people you work with are there because someone helped them once—or more—on their path to success in EMS.

3. Hot shots come and hot shots go. Mostly go.

Being there for the long haul requires a slower and steadier pace than you may want at first. Bad attitudes and behaviors never result in a happy ending.

4. Never stop learning.

Science changes fast. People forget things. You wouldn’t want the person responding to your emergency not to have opened a book in years—so stay current yourself.

5. Be healthy in mind and body.

This comes from good food, a healthy lifestyle, and a good attitude. EMS is hard work that takes a toll on your body.

6. Be nice. To patients. To your colleagues. To yourself.

You wouldn’t think this needs to be said, but everyone has negative times. We’ll say it again: Be nice.

7. Never forget that people trust you with their lives.

Everything we do is for that moment. Our actions, our decisions and our knowledge all matter. Never betray the trust.

8. Don’t drive like an ass.

Lights and sirens may seem cool, but in reality they’re dangerous. Often unnecessarily so. Collisions are a leading cause of death of EMS providers, and these deaths are preventable.

9. Be safe.

The world seems to get crazier every day. You don’t have to be hyper or militant about your own safety—just be a bit more observant and safety-oriented on every call.

10. There are times when EMS will get you down. It’s OK to ask for help.

Our culture now seems to be genuinely accepting of the fact that EMS workers experience stress. You can get help and still stay in the game. Whether you seek help from a trusted colleague, a supervisor, or an EAP, just do it. Reach out before it’s too late.

What would you add?