Help!! Riddle me this… Quick like!

Ladies and Gentlemen!

I am in a bind… and well, I’m asking for your quick, late night assistance. Consider this the LUTL pager going off and me begging for you to volunteer your time and respond to these questions. Won’t you help me?

I recently signed up for college and I’m facing the end of my first semester at Kaplan University. Http:// I’m completing a BS in Fire and Emergency Management through their online campus. I must say that I’ve really been enjoying it. I’ve had two excellent instructors thus far, and I can’t speak highly enough of them.

However… as my regular readers know, my schedule has been flipped turned upside down by one of my jobs and I am now facing a deadline of 0000hrs CST to have an “Interview with a fire service professional” completed and done.

And no, I can’t interview myself. Even with my multiple personalities firing on full cylinders… I just can’t do that in good consciousness.

So, I’m asking y’all, my (really nice, handsome/pretty, and intelligent) audience to answer me a few questions before 9/8 0000hrs CST! Hurry!

Three of these are easy questions… one of them is hard as heck and is sure to be controversial, actually. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thanks for helping. Please leave your answers in comment form, or you can e-mail them to the blog e-mail at

Thank you!!!


  1. What is your name, rank, and department? (Or general area of the country and type of service if you prefer)
  2. How long have you been a member of this department?
  3. Do you hold multiple jobs in the Fire Service/EMS? Care to share?
  4. Where did you work previously… the abridged version?
  5. What training or education did you undergo in order to get the job you have now?

And here’s the hard one:

First, go read THIS ARTICLE FROM FIREGEEZER.COM WRITTEN BY FOSSILMEDIC about Uniontown, PA scrapping their paid FD for a volunteer/POC department.

Then, go read THIS ARTICLE FROM PETER CANNING (and the subsequent article from the New York Times that he links to) about Fire Departments charging hundreds of dollars for all responses.

Now, answer me this:

With local governments all across the nation facing financial crises and the fire service not being immune to the budgetary axe… do you think that the full-time, paid, professional fire service will continue to be as much as a desirable career goal, in terms of pay and benefits, in five years. How about ten years, or 15 or 20 years?

Consider this as well:

People line up and submit themselves to grueling testing processes for one or two openings in full-time fire departments. Hundreds of people compete for one or two open slots in some cases. This is an example of supply and demand being askew… its simple math. Obviously there’s something that drives these people to submit to that process with little hope of getting the few available jobs. Do you really think that will last?

No offense intended to my brethren in the fire service. This is something I’ve seriously considered and I’ll bet I’m not the only one who has. The question has been asked. Let’s see what answers we get.

(and thanks for helping me with my homework… I’m really going to transpose your answers and turn it in as a paper)

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, wish I was in the fire service to help you out! Hopefully you get someone to answer your questions. Gotta love procrastination/ doing things at the last possible min (sucks if it is forced to do at the last minute by other circumstances, but for me it was by choice), got me all the way thought my BA 🙂
    Good luck!

    • Ckemtp

      My friend, of course you can answer. I’m not limiting this to the FD only.

      • Anonymous

        I just emailed my answers to you. Sorry, earlier you say you need to “interview a fire service professional,” which I don’t consider myself 😛
        ps. This post got me thinking about lots of tangent issues, such as fire/police based, non-transporting ALS, and how it is a waste of resources (why do you need a medic on scene, who won’t transport, or if they request to transport the pt. in our ALS ambulance, then they are turning the ambulance medic into simply a driver, and wasting their training (from what I have been told here, they don’t transport with both medics in the back, they have the EMT drive the ambulance, and the medic gets out and drives the other medics fly car to the hospital….). The local governments need to make up their mind- either trust the private ambulances they have a contract with to provide ALS service, or don’t trust them, and develop their own transporting ambulance service, the way it is now is simply a waste of resources.
        Sorry for the tangent

  • 1. What is your name, rank, and department? (Or general area of the country and type of service if you prefer)

    John Broyles, Engineer, Bartonville Fire Department
    Staff Sergeant, US Army Reserve

    2. How long have you been a member of this department?

    Bartonville: 8 years
    USA: 21 years

    3. Do you hold multiple jobs in the Fire Service/EMS? Care to share?

    Combat Medic

    4. Where did you work previously… the abridged version?

    Where I work now

    5. What training or education did you undergo in order to get the job you have now?
    9 week Combat Medic course
    1 semester EMT-B class

  • Ranger Medic

    1.What is your name, rank, and department? (Or general area of the country and type of service if you prefer)

    D.Barrows, EMT-B, Delavan Rescue, WI

    2.How long have you been a member of this department?

    Almost two years

    3.Do you hold multiple jobs in the Fire Service/EMS? Care to share?

    FF/EMT in Harvard IL
    Dispatcher in Harvard IL

    4.Where did you work previously… the abridged version?

    Factory Work before EMT/Dispatch

    5.What training or education did you undergo in order to get the job you have now?

    One month for EMD dispatch
    Semester for EMT B
    Semester for FF2
    Now finishing year worth for Paramedic
    Various CE through out since completion of EMT B

  • Thejohnykat

    1.What is your name, rank, and department? (Or general area of the country and type of service if you prefer)
    John Gaines. Paramedic. Careflite. Dallas, TX.
    2.How long have you been a member of this department?
    1 year
    Total time in EMS: 8 years.
    3.Do you hold multiple jobs in the Fire Service/EMS? Care to share?
    Not at this time. In the past, before I handled full time single parent duties, I would work part time jobs on the side for transport services.
    4.Where did you work previously… the abridged version?
    Parkland Memorial Hospital (Level 1 Trauma Center (think “Parkland Burn Formula”))
    AMR/Arlington EMS
    Williamson County EMS
    Medstar EMS/Ft.Worth TX
    5.What training or education did you undergo in order to get the job you have now?
    Paramedic certification. Four semester, including EMT-B. Two nights a week. Since graduation: CPR/AED, ACLS, PALS, NRP, ITLS (and coming next month…CCEMTP). Also, I make it a habit to attend at least 1 12-lead course every year. Also, being a total EMS geek, I probably spend 10-15 hours a week on the internet, blogs and message boards discussing medicine and EMS.

    This last question is a little tough for me to answer. Mainly because my only FD experience is from volunteer days early in my career. I have however had the unique insight to not only work with various FD’s as a 3rd party private service as well as working for a County based EMS service that housed with and worked with the local FD’s; usually remaining on the same shifts.

    However, I’ll give it a shot. I think the excitement and abundance of applicants for fire departments will wax and wane over the years. I remember post 9/11 they applicants for fire departments went through the roof. That lasted for several years (and I think in a small way is still occurring). Combine that with the fact that there will always be young men (and women) who want to join the service either from a desire to help people, the want to have a stable career, or just the flat out love of adrenaline; and that should keep the application lists full. The sad part is, there are times when I believe the “adrenaline junkies” are the largest applicants. This was an observation I had back when I tested for a few departments. Really it wasn’t hard to notice. When taking a test that required only a FF certification, or FF/EMT, I’d frequently find myself testing with 200+ individuals. However, tests that required FF/EMT-P generally had between 10 and 50 applicants.
    Also, there is just the reputation of being a fire fighter. When we were kids, we all wanted to be fire fighters. We all wanted to ride in the big red truck, rescue kittens from trees and wear really awesome helmets. This isn’t an insult to my brothers and sisters. It’s just that being a fire fighter for some kids ranked up with being a rock star or an astronaut. And to those who dreamed of being a fire fighter, they grow up to realize that that is a totally attainable dream.
    I think that most of the people who are in the job for the “rush” or the “reputation” usually stop at being a volunteer, or being in very small departments. Not an insult to all volunteers, because some are great. But the ones who just want the reputation, they don’t have the dedication to work for larger professional departments, nor do most have the dedication to go past the level of Basic on the EMS side. And that is fine. A good Basic is a great thing. It’s just that most people who are in the job for the wrong reasons don’t have the dedication to finish a full paramedic program.
    Do I think things will change? Yes. Then I think they’ll change back. Things like what occurred in Uniontown, PA will happen all over the country, mainly in smaller cities. And like wise, on the EMS side, things like the cutbacks in Detroit will occur. But then there will be a change. Either it will be strictly monetary, and the city will have the money. Or, something horrible is going to happen, and it will open the eyes of administrators to the fact that these people are actually needed. It’s the same thing that happens on the PD side. Crime goes down, so they reduce jobs. Crime goes back up, they hire more people, and crime goes down. I just think for the fire side, that circle comes around slower than in law enforcement.
    So yeah, things will change… and as much, things will stay the same.

    (Notice I didn’t even bring up EMS vs. Fire/EMS? I’m proud of myself)

    • Thejohnykat

      One of the things I forgot to add, that I wish I would have, is that any time you either see the entire economy take a nose dive, or a particular work type bombs (i.e telecom or dotcom), you will see a drastic increase in people applying for public safety/healthcare work.

  • Anonymous

    Let me understand this… you are telling me that a local county government is laying off people because the taxes have gone away because of the local economy has gone to shit and the fire department/ paramedics are left to downsize their budgets and downsize their services because there isn’t a justification as to why they are there? have I got this correct?

    So instead of using existing technology to teach the local community of the services that the FD/ EMS agencies offer, they decide to increase the charges or personally charge the locals more for their services that they previously did not charge for?

    I am seriously feeling the impact out here on the west coast as money seems to be the core focus of so many departments and private services. I am not asking for the world to believe that there is a one solution answer the problem, but here is my personal rant for these agencies…

    With a lack of funds to make payroll how else are you going to create value to your community? Evaluate what your community consists of and develop programs that will accomodate their needs… i.e. Asthma Clinic, BP Clinic, Community Paramedics, there are many more to discuss, but without evolving as an industry we will never show our value to the communities we serve.

    The last part comes in the form of PR… We need better PR for our agencies. We need to learn how to show the public why we are valuable, what are our value is and help them with understanding the services we offer. I say this and I am willing to act on it… are you?

    • You bring up a good point Ted, but the issue with evolving right now (and I’m just playing devil’s advocate) is that there is no was to bill for those new services. At least not a way that will be easily paid without burdening the individual. There is an existing fee structure for ambulance transport, but Medicare and Medicaid, and subsequently private insurance won’t pay for Asthma Clinics, Community Paramedics and like. Most of the those programs were started with grants, but what happens when those grants run out? If you can’t make payroll now, how are you going to make payroll with more staff and new services?

      Again, I agree with you in principal, but fundings for personnel and training has to come from somewhere.

      • Anonymous

        I know this may be difficult to fathom now but imagine that you create such an amazing value to your community, fundraisers for local charities, clinics, etc. creating value for the community will translate to the community supporting programs with temp tax increases or future future fundraisers needed to keep the services.

        Another thing to consider it that the hospitals have the money, there are ways to impress upon the medical directors to give us paramedics the license to send patients to clinics not ERs… Many other ideas coming to mind…

        • I forsee a partnership with a hospital system like Kaiser (Permanente, not Chris) who understands the power of prevention. Even just beginning by responding those resources to their patients then billing and using that funding to respond to the whole system. Show that the program works then expand your billing to other insurance providers. You’re doing the right thing for the patients and the system, and providing a fantastic PR opportunity for your service and for the hospital system/insurance provider. Other insurance providers will have to keep up otherwise they risk losing clients.

  • Scribbles412

    1. What is your name, rank, and department? (Or general area of the country and type of service if you prefer) Christian Anna Marie Desiree Jackson-Puglisi, Firefighter/EMT, Middletown, Delaware
    2. How long have you been a member of this department? 2008
    3. Do you hold multiple jobs in the Fire Service/EMS? Care to share? Transport EMT, Student, Volunteer
    4. Where did you work previously… the abridged version? I come from the Mental Health and the corrections/security field

    5. What training or education did you undergo in order to get the job you have now? I have over a hundred hours of training in EMS, Rescue, Structural, Hazardous material, and basic Fire training. I will continue my rescue training until I am nationally certified as a firefighter. I am currently a NREMT-B and studying for my Associates in Paramedical studies to be a NREMT-P.

    In Delaware we are almost all volunteer. The truly “paid” firefighters are the city of Wilmington and most of the time the volunteer and private ambulance company are supporting the paid companies. I have a great company. We get over 10 applicants a month for or volunteer service and half of them stay.

    Delaware is such a small state that we support each other like a union. a New Castle County company tried to bring in a private company to replace the small paid ems staff it had and the public was in an uproar. The local paper did an article about how Delaware has outgrown it Volunteer service, but it still continues to thrive. I left the mental health field because my community need me more as a volunteer. My area has grown with leaps and bounds and we still get enough volunteers to fill a truck or two. The young and old in my company have a brotherhood, and I would change it for the world. When it comes down to a money a issue. What would be more cost effective? I don’t care if I get paid or make a living from the fire service. It’s all about see a mother hug her teenage after a car accident or how the kids in the neighborhood faces light up when Santa rides that firetruck up and down the street. The Volunteer service has paid me enough.

  • not exactly an answer to your questions, but also consider the constant waste of public money for which politicians everywhere are responsible. then ask them why they have to cut public safety budgets instead of the budget for a new fleet of city cars.

    the best view i’ve heard: it doesn’t matter how many libraries or how nice your parks are or how many businesses are operating if there are no cops to keep your streets safe, no firefighters to put out fires and no ambulances to take care of the sick and injured.

  • Anonymous

    The complexity of modern life is man-made. Budgetary problems are man made. Problems with EMS and the fire service is man-made. We can undo all of the stupidity created in the last fifty years by redefining what we do, which is and always should have been respond to life threatening emergencies.

    Now, define a life threatening emergency. That is the tricky part. but where is it stated that when somebody dies as a result of an accident or illness it is the fault of the responder who didn’t respond properly? Nowhere, I suspect, or if you can find it it will be in legislation recently passed, probably by lawyers disguised as polititians.

    Get back to basics. Respond to fires. respond to accidents where somebody is in danger of permanant disability or death. Leave the fenderbenders and scrapes, cuts and bruised to the people who suffered the minor inconveniences. Stop sending rescues to every person who expects to be catered to.

    More later, I hope, somebody just called because he is intoxicated and wants a ride to detox.

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