Will your career survive a decade or more in full-time EMS? Take this three question quiz!

This is a simple test that you can use to see if you have the proper mindset to make it a decade or longer in this insane profession we call EMS.

NOTE TO NON-EMS PEOPLE: This post is geared especially to those in the industry. It explores humor that we employ to keep us with a healthy degree of insanity. If you’re not in the industry and you find this to be disagreeable in some way… well then in the words of Motorcop: “You’ve got the wrong frikkin’ blog pal!” Go read about scrapbooking or something.

This is a simple three question blog based quiz that you can use to determine if you have the right mindset needed to make it more than a few years in this crazy, wild profession we call EMS. If you fail this quiz, um… well then you should tear up your EMT card immediately or not. Nevertheless, if you find this at all funny, you’ve come to the right place. Howsabout that?

Question #1:

You’re working a service that employs two paramedics per day to support BLS ambulance crews in your jurisdiction and beyond. The other paramedic on duty with you that day responds to a neighboring jurisdiction and manages to resuscitate a patient in cardiac arrest. He transports the patient on-board the BLS ambulance to the local community hospital that does not have ICU admitting capabilities on site. Shortly after he transports the patient to the small ER he contacts you asking you to respond down with the ambulance to stat-transfer the patient to a tertiary ICU approx 1.5hrs away lights and sirens. The patient’s got three drips going, is receiving bolus cardiac meds, is on a ventilator, and is not doing well. The ER doc wants the patient outta there as soon as he can get him reasonably stabilized for emergent transport. Oh, and before you ask, the helicopter’s not flying due to weather. You’re it, Buddy.

You arrive at the ER with your EMT-Basic partner and um, you’re “enthused” about the “challenge” you’re about to face. Walking into the ER you hear more than the expected commotion coming from the patient’s room. You enter the room to find the ER staff performing CPR and attempting to resuscitate the patient after he went into cardiac arrest again. You and your partner assist, but despite everyone’s best efforts, the patient unfortunately expires.

When you return to service and get back to quarters, you expect your coworkers to:

  1. A.      Be supportive and consolatory, understanding that you’ve just been through an intense, traumatic experience.
  2. B.      Make fun of you and suggest that you’re an incompetent paramedic because, after all, the other paramedic “saved” the patient… then you showed up and killed him.
  3. C.      Insist that you’re an agent of the grim reaper and pin up another chalk outline with a line through it on your “Bulletin Board of Death” they’ve got going.

Question #2:

Your rural ambulance responds to a local community health clinic for a “Woman in Labor”. Upon your arrival you find a 36 week pregnant female Gravita 3 Para 3 (3 Pregnancies, 3 live births) with contractions 5 minutes apart. The physician wants the patient transported to the local OB unit that is 45minutes away lights and sirens. You load the patient in the ambulance after assessing the patient and find that she is an otherwise healthy pregnant patient possibly in early labor. You initiate ALS care including o2, an IV, and an ECG monitor for good measure. Your partner points the ambulance towards the hospital and you take off lights and sirens. Ten minutes into the transport, the patient’s bag of waters ruptures and the patient states that she urgently feels the need to push.

Do you:

  1. A.      Tell your partner to pull the ambulance over to the side of the road in a safe area so that he can come back and assist while you pull out and open up the OB kit, preparing for imminent birth.
  2. B.      Administer a fluid bolus in the hope that you can slow the imminent delivery.
  3. C.      Calmly tell your partner to “Drive it like he stole it” and coach the patient in “trying not to push” while you try answer “B” and hold her legs firmly closed because hey, who wants to clean up afterbirth all over their ambulance?

Question #3:

You’ve just returned your ambulance to service after a mundane call on a particularly busy day. The other ambulance in the jurisdiction has not had a rough of a day as you’ve had and was out getting lunch when you returned to the station. Before you have the chance to radio dispatch and let them know that you’ve restocked and are back in service from the previous call, the tones drop for an unresponsive male patient that sounds like he has a severe lower GI bleed. Although you’re probably two blocks closer to the call than the other truck, they are dispatched because you haven’t gone in service yet. Their most direct route to the scene puts them right past the front of the station where they’re sure to see you on their way by.

Do you:

  1. A.      Call dispatch on the radio and inform them that you are indeed in service and will respond to the call if they wish you to do so.
  2. B.      Quick, hide! Close the station door and pretend that you’re not yet back in quarters. They deserve to get the call, they’re only out two blocks farther than you are, and you don’t want them to see you and know that you’re ducking it.
  3. C.      Run out to the front apron of the station and smile and wave as they drive by! Hiiiiieeey!! Enjoy the butt bleeder! Don’t forget to write!

Extra Credit Question:

                How many fingers do you think that the other crew will wave back at you with when they pass you in the previous question?

Answers:

If you answered mostly “A’s” – Congratulations, you’re a new, competent, caring EMT. Feel proud of yourself, but you’re probably not going to retire from this job. I could be wrong… but you’re pretty straight laced. Have fun with that.

If you answered mostly “B’s” – You’ve been in the business a while, haven’t you? You’re well on your way to developing the hard outer shell you’ll need to survive for a while in this business. Just don’t lose your gooey center.

If you answered mostly “C’s” – Um, you’re one of my coworkers, right?? Guys, come on… Why’d you go and dump a bucket of water on me last night while I was sleeping? If you’re not one of my coworkers, e-mail me and I’ll send you an application. You’ll fit right in.

  • totwtytr

    Funny! I think once the amniotic sac ruptures, it might be a bit late for hydrating the patient to stop the production of oxytocin. I don't know if driving like we stole it is the answer either. Then again, I've delivered more than one baby and know that the mother does most of the work.

    As to cardiac arrests, they are part of the job. Most of them don't survive and if we ever get to even 50% survival rates in the cutting edge systems, I'll be surprised.

    GI bleeds? I'll always let the other guys do those, just because of the smell alone. Well, I let them do them when possible.

  • annettewiegand

    I'm doomed! But that's great….I was born to be a paramedic and a paramedic I will be until the day I die!

  • annettewiegand

    I'm doomed! But that's great….I was born to be a paramedic and a paramedic I will be until the day I die!

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  • mickmayers

    Just one finger each. Don't let the cerebral nature of Firehouse Zen completely fool you; after 29 years on the job, I've got the whole “truckie medic” attitude in its rightful place. I think its a survival mechanism.

    One Day One of medic school, we all got the speech about how x number of you wouldn't make it out of the course, y number would not be medics in five years, and z in ten years. With 22 years as a certified EMT-P, I think I beat the odds…

  • mickmayers

    Just one finger each. Don't let the cerebral nature of Firehouse Zen completely fool you; after 29 years on the job, I've got the whole “truckie medic” attitude in its rightful place. I think its a survival mechanism.

    One Day One of medic school, we all got the speech about how x number of you wouldn't make it out of the course, y number would not be medics in five years, and z in ten years. With 22 years as a certified EMT-P, I think I beat the odds…

  • jimhaden

    Loved the quiz. It would not only appear that I have another decade left to supplement the two already under my belt, but will most likely be found pulseless and apneic while seated in the rig one day…. I can't think of anything I would rather do for a living!

  • http://www.bluebladedstar.co.uk/ Explorer

    You forgot an answer to the first question:

    D. All of the above.

    :D

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  • el quirky

    You know, the ER thing did make me stronger…a lot of nurses said GI bleed was the worse scent…yet, we could eat burgers back in the med room even in the presence. Lots of nurses complained about that…but for me…one day did all others in. We got a guy sent from the hospital … oh, you know it… about twelve miles south of where grandma lives. They sent him to us. He was the typical old country farmer … not gonna go 'till I have to… he had necrotic, well…um….grapefruit sized …. black in color…um….

    I had to go in and get the signature….on the consent form….

    Doc was coming out of the room scratching his head saying, “How can you let something go that long….”

    Yep…I would imagine this fellow probably lost MOST of his equipment….

    and trust me….necrotic tissue…for sheer ill factor…beats afterbirth and GI bleed by a LONGSHOT….

  • el quirky

    You know, the ER thing did make me stronger…a lot of nurses said GI bleed was the worse scent…yet, we could eat burgers back in the med room even in the presence. Lots of nurses complained about that…but for me…one day did all others in. We got a guy sent from the hospital … oh, you know it… about twelve miles south of where grandma lives. They sent him to us. He was the typical old country farmer … not gonna go 'till I have to… he had necrotic, well…um….grapefruit sized …. black in color…um….

    I had to go in and get the signature….on the consent form….

    Doc was coming out of the room scratching his head saying, “How can you let something go that long….”

    Yep…I would imagine this fellow probably lost MOST of his equipment….

    and trust me….necrotic tissue…for sheer ill factor…beats afterbirth and GI bleed by a LONGSHOT….

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/4BVPTK4KF5HEXZNVHXLVLAECIQ JamesR

    I find this questionnaire problematic at best.

    The “A” answers are protocol, the “B” answers are slackers, the “C” answers are people I'd fire if I was their supervisor.

    Oh, and if your test is accurate, then there's a problem. I've been doing this for 23 years.

    –Lt James Rosse
    South Schodack Fire

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/4BVPTK4KF5HEXZNVHXLVLAECIQ JamesR

    I find this questionnaire problematic at best.

    The “A” answers are protocol, the “B” answers are slackers, the “C” answers are people I'd fire if I was their supervisor.

    Oh, and if your test is accurate, then there's a problem. I've been doing this for 23 years.

    –Lt James Rosse
    South Schodack Fire

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Chris Kaiser aka "Ckemtp"

I am a paramedic trying to advance the idea that the Emergency Medical Services can be made into the profession that we all want it, need it, and know it deserves to be.

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  • Comments
    Ckemtp
    I Got Attacked – A Paramedic Speaks About Public Trust
    I somewhat agree, though I assure you I didn't set out to waste your time. I probably should have broken this down into two separate points as the second point was the one I most wanted to emphasize. My bad on this one, I'll do better next time. Thanks for the feedback. If you'd like,…
    2014-12-16 20:25:00
    hawk4080
    I Got Attacked – A Paramedic Speaks About Public Trust
    Wow. That was a total waste to read.
    2014-12-16 19:20:00
    retired ems medic
    I Got Attacked – A Paramedic Speaks About Public Trust
    The radios should have had a trouble button to eliminate the need to key the Mike and talk. Maybe the dispatchers need to be rotated out to the streets to get out of the mode of just getting the calls out and only half listening to the radio.
    2014-12-16 14:50:00
    HybridMedic
    I Got Attacked – A Paramedic Speaks About Public Trust
    We use "Signal C" as a code to relay a crew in distress. Takes a second for the dispatchers to confirm it, but it sends the nearest engine, battalion chief, fire investigator (who are sworn LEO's) and makes an officer in distress call to Memphis Police. The arrival of all those resources is quite... Dramatic.
    2014-12-15 14:29:00
    exmedic
    Welcome to the Club
    Not me anymore
    2014-12-15 09:17:00

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