I've made comments in other posts about my service being shorthanded when it comes to Medics. This has become an understatement. I have only worked for 2 EMS services. The first was a Basic transport service. It started out like many others, a small Mom and Pop operation where the owner still ran calls on the truck. Eventually, sadly, they got a little too big for their britches and forgot about the little people that made them what they were. I left them for several reasons, the major being an increase in my education and I couldn't use it there. Other reasons included several disagreements with the management and the overall day-to-day grind of the place. It just wasn't what I signed on for. So I left.
Now I have been with my current service, an ALS service, for about a year and a half. Not that long by many standards, and I completely agree. But my seniority is quickly growing. This is due to Medics leaving and leaving quickly. In that year and a half about 15 senior Medics have left. And I'm not talking about Medics that have been here for a year or 2. I'm talking about 5-15 year Medics. Some left because of Nursing school, we all know that Nurses on average make a hell of a lot more money, so I can understand that to some degree. Others leave because of personal disagreements with the management, which is inevitable, first rule of management should be that you can't make everyone happy. But the rest? I don't really have a clue.
We have lost a lot of people to "Big City EMS" just down the road. They pay a little more, not much, but a little. Their call volume is 2-3 times greater, they have 3-4 times as many employees and they have the availability of 12 hour shifts instead of 24. They can have a call completed from dispatch to return to quarters in less than an hour. They have a major hospital inside the county and that is where they transport everything, so their turn around time is quick. To me this is a bad thing, you don't get a chance to be a Medic. They vary rarely even start an IV because they can load and go and have the patient inside the ED so quick, there is rarely any point. I can see why some Medics like this. The ones who are lazy or don't know what they are doing and the ones that are burnt.
I'm not downing the urban EMS service. The basic service I worked for was in an urban setting and we ran the basic 911 calls. I have some good friends that work in the urban setting, and I know several great Medics that also work in the big city. It's not for me, but someone has to do it.
Back to the original question.....why do people leave? Maybe it's just me but I was raised to have pride in my work and loyalty to that place. Sometimes things piss me off and I bitch a little, but I'm not going anywhere. I love my job and I love my service. I try to recruit whenever I get the chance. I don't think others think like me in this way. I don't think that loyalty ever comes into play for some people. For me EMS is a career, a lifestyle if you will, not just a job. I may sound corny or pathetic or like a greenhorn, but that's just the way it is for me. I don't live and breath EMS 24/7. I take my time off and I try to leave my work at work and not bring it home with me, but EMS is my passion, I don't know how to say it any other way.
My service is comparable in many ways to other services. We are on average with other services as far as pay. We still work the 24/48 schedule. Time off is great, we generate about 24 hours a month for new employees and that goes up with your vested time in. Other benefits are on par with the area as far as insurance and all that. Depending on which station you are at you could have between a 30 and 90 minute transport time, and that's emergency traffic. Our call volume is fairly low. An average day is 3-6 calls. Each call will take about 2-3 hours from start to finish. Due to our long transport times, we have excellent protocols with a lot of freedom and flexibility. We also have a full drug box with RSI and thrombolytics. I know this sounds like a pitch for employment, its not, just trying to give the reader a sense of my service.
So why is it that Paramedics leave? Is it because of the money? different scenery? different type of service? I'm at a loss on this issue.
Another problem that we along with other services are having is hiring. From the little info that I can glean from out training officer we have very few applications coming in and even fewer who can pass the entrance testing. This is a statewide thing. I have heard that the director of our Office of EMS said that there is a shortage of 2-3,000 Paramedics across the state. Why is that? When I went for my test, there were over 300 people in the room. They broke us up and all of the people testing for Intermediate and Paramedic filled only one classroom which was less than 40. Forty out of 300! That is proof to me that there just isn't that many people going for the Paramedic patch.
I think I'll end my rant here and pick up later after a few comments.