November 17th, 2009
Becoming an emergency medical technician requires more than certification: it requires the stamina necessary to make it through countless ordeals, witness inhumane criminal acts, and still muster the courage to help those in need. The EMTs who were present on September 11 were not focused on the deadly terrorist attack which had just taken place; rather, they were focused on getting their patients the emergency care they so desperately required. Taking on an EMT job means taking on an immense responsibility in the public health sector, a responsibility which has been slighted throughout the health care talks around our nation.
Every EMT I have known has loved their job, even regaling us with stories of their “on the scene” action they have witnessed. From everything from suicide attempts, to gang shootings, to drug raids, these guys have seen it all. Throughout it they have maintained their cool and simply added more stories to their tank after every rescue. EMT jobs require a knowledge that the world is not always a good place, but the understanding that you can help it along by saving lives, whether they be innocent or guilty.
St. Vincent’s midtown hospital in New York was one of the casualties of the Berger Commission in New York City, in an attempt to consolidate the health resources of the city in 2007, shortly before the recession would have required it to close anyway. This was an unusual hospital because it was the city’s first 24/7 paramedic unit, thereby attracting all the EMTs of the area. The night before the hospital closed for good, EMTs gathered around to share stories of life on the EMT job, including many celebrity encounters. You never quite know what to expect on the job, especially in a city like New York. The stories they shared on this last night left an insight into the EMT world, as they mentioned everything from police assault to taxi driver “bites” by passengers. EMTs are the ones who got down and dirty with in the belly of crime in the city.
It is not only New York EMTs who experience this kind of peek into the criminal world; all EMTs have to deal with the results of crimes that did not occur as planned, or more often than not, crimes that did. However, EMT jobs are a noble profession in many regards; they are the people who are first on the scene and the first ones to perform emergency medical care on a variety of patients before the doctors and surgeons can get to them. This requires years of training and a thorough knowledge of rescue techniques. Many EMTs go on to become doctors if they feel compelled to further their medical knowledge, while others stay in the industry for the rest of their lives. Regardless of the path your career takes you, EMT jobs have become a backbone of modern civilization and the reason many of us are still alive today after a horrific ordeal.