The Three Fastest Ways to End Your Career in 2013

With the new year dawning brightly and all that ugly Mayan business behind us, I thought it might be a good time to address some of the best ways to bring your EMS world to an untimely end in the new year. Some of the most effective ways to end your career prematurely remain consistent favorites, while others are new, but every bit as effective as the tried and true methods.

Based on the news reels and accident reports from 2012, these three behaviors are clearly the best ways to end your EMS career. They may not be as elegant as the flight attendant who deployed the emergency slide, grabbed some beers and told everyone on the plane to f**k themselves, but many these actions can land you on the pages of newspapers as well as the unemployment line.

1) Driving Fast and Recklessly

Most ambulance accidents are avoidable. If your ambulance strikes anything while you are traveling emergent, you are likely at fault.  Consider that research seems to suggest that are emergent responses are rarely if ever a determining factor in the patients outcome. With that in mind, understand that your additional reckless shenanigans, designed to shave a couple more seconds off of the already ineffective emergent response do noting except incur needles risk and demonstrate your profound inexperience (and/or lack of judgement).

When you get behind the wheel of the medic unit, drive safely and maintain your awareness. Driving remains the most dangerous part of our job. Doing it well for the rest of your career is the single biggest thing you can do to ensure that career is a long one.

2) Lifting Improperly

The prams get better, the lifting devices get more advanced and the patients get bigger. One thing remains the same. Most of us leave our EMS careers with wrecked backs. You don’t have to do that.You don’t have to lift patient loads when they are beyond your ability to do so safely. Call for more resources. Make a better plan. Ask for more help. I don’t care how urgent the situation seems. The duty to act does not include you carrying 200 lbs of flesh down a rickety staircase.

It is your employers responsibility to make sure that the resources are available to allow you to do your job safely. When you play along with the too-few-resources-on-scene game, you only perpetuate the problem. You make it more likely that you will sustain a job ending back injury and you make it more likely that the person who comes after you will do the same thing. (Like the dozens who came before you already did.) Stop the madness. Protect your back.

3) Uploading Pictures and Comments to Facebook

Social media has given all of us an audience that was impossible only five short years ago. Yes, we all used to take pictures on scenes. Yes, many of us shared them in inappropriate forums. We even had inappropriate angry rats about our employers in the middle of the break room. But we were protected from our own stupidity by the relatively small size of the audience available to us. Sure, we could pull some old Polaroids from a drawer and talk about them, but we couldn’t instantly share those inappropriate photos with hundreds of people instantly.We could make angry comments about our jobs, but we couldn’t broadcast them.

It isn’t always obvious, when you hit that share button, just how far and how fast media can travel over social media networks. We in the social media arena are well aware of how staggeringly large your audience can become in a few short days if the content you post goes viral. Just ask Lindsey Stone (pictured left) how quickly a single Facebook photo can change your whole life. More than one EMT has found out the hard way how unforgiving patients, their families and their friends can be if they encounter inappropriately shared moments of their personal lives on social media. More than one EMT has learned how serious their employers were about their reputations when they posted an angry rant in the name of honesty and freedom of speech.

When you open up your social media networks, be cautions about what you decide to share and keep it professional.

I can’t warn everyone. And even if I could, not everyone would listen. Such is life. The calendar will soon roll over to January 2013. The blogs will talk about the latest tragic ambulance accident. The doctors offices will continue to see a steady stream of EMS workers with back injuries. The news threads a here and around the internet will report the latest employee fired for their social media behavior.

But not you. We won’t be talking about you. Because you know better.


  1. I was a Paramedic for almost ten years. The first year was 1975, and my class was the second in the City’s history. We often carried 250 pound patients on a much heavier stretcher, with the old fashion LifePak, an O2 bottle, down multiple flights of tight stairs. You know the ones, where the lower medic has to lift the patient to head level to make the turn.
    Some calls we had help from the FD or PD, but most were just the two of us. I had a few lumbar muscle strains, but no herniations or fractures. However 25 years later I had serious Lumbar and leg pain. I’m about to have my third surgery. Back injuries are cumulative, and can reveal themselves much later in life.
    Take an old paramedics advice, and protect yourself. Ask for help. You’ll be no value to future patients if you injure your back trying to save one.

  2. Hi

    Unfortunately here in South Africa, we do not get issued stair-chairs. This means any patient that can’t walk with assistance and that is being taken up stairs (eg a transfer home) or down stairs has to be manoeuvred at some rather awkward angles on a scoop stretcher.
    Regarding points 1 and 3, I fully agree.