I'd bet money that just about everyone in EMS, no matter their level of practice, has been asked why they do what it is they do. And if they have been doing this job for any number of years, they've been asked why or how they have stayed in as long as they have. I was asked the other day by one of my EMT students. I've been asked several times over the years. It seems that my answer changes over time.
Originally it was about the rush. You know what I'm talking about. The feeling you get when the pager goes off. You rush to the rig and tear off with lights blazing and siren wailing. Get to the call and maybe get to do a bunch of cool shit, see someone all fucked up. Then after it's all over you sit back, beat your chest and holler at the moon to let everyone know how stoked you feel.
Don't get me wrong, helping people is a major reason that people, including myself, got into this business. But the rush is equal or greater than the want to help people. If anyone reading this is honest with themselves, I believe that they will agree with me. People may initially get into EMS for helping people, but the rush keeps them coming back.
Now, 13 years have passed since I ran my first call as a spunky teenager. The rush is still there, sometimes. Other times, not so much. At times, I find myself falling asleep while my partner drives us emergency traffic to the call. It's not that I'm burned out, far from it. But like AD said once, either you find something to love about EMS, or you get out.
Even before the rush, there was my Dad. He got his paramedic a year before I was born. To say that I grew up in this business is an understatement. My daycare was the EMS station. The ladies that did the billing were like surrogate mothers to me. Hell, I even had my own locker with a blanket and GI JOE's, complete with toy ambulances. Until my Dad left EMS in the late 80's to be a flight medic, I lived at the EMS station; eating, sleeping and helping the guys wash the trucks. (I was the tire washer....)
For many years I was in the fire dept and volunteered as a first responder. But my inherent disregard for authority led me to rebel against my Dad and his chosen profession. I have to give it to him though. Even though he loved EMS and medicine in general, he never pushed it on me, he let me make my own decisions as far as my career was concerned. So I never even considered it as a career till about 5 years ago when I finally realized that I couldn't run away from it any longer. Nothing else I did was ever satisfying. I'd learn everything I could and usually excel in whatever it was I was doing. Then I'd hit that wall. Either there was nothing else to learn, or I couldn't advance my position to be able to learn any more for one reason or another.
So I turned to EMS and I haven't looked back since. In medicine, I found an ever satisfying subject. There is just so much about the human condition that no one person will ever know it all. So I found "it". The thing that could keep me busy for the rest of my life. That's the real reason I'm in EMS. I can never learn it all, there will always be something else to learn.
The second reason that has came around in the past year or so is teaching. I love to teach. I realise that in the grand scheme of things, I don't know much. But what I have learned, I enjoy passing that knowledge on to others. That's the only thing I can see myself doing other than being a field medic. I would someday like to be a training officer, or maybe over a medic program at a local college.
Those are my reasons for doing this and sticking around....