4th Anniversary

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Dawn or dusk? It’s just a matter of perspective.
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Today is this blog’s 4th anniversary.  Wow, time sure has flown by, and I am left a bit stunned.  It felt like just yesterday I wanted to become a paramedic.  Looking back over the last year, I have dialed back quite a bit from writing due to what we would call:  Life.  However, I was surprised by the statistics that despite having written a lot less, the number of views on this blog has increased.  I’m hoping people are finding useful information on here, or just enjoying the random thoughts and stories.

I remember when I first started contemplating on becoming a paramedic, I asked myself many questions and had my fears.  Amongst one of them was the question:  “How will I deal with a bad call?”  I remember trying to find out what it was like to go through a bad call, what are the hurdles someone has to conquer, I wanted to get a better understanding of it.  I never did find the answer.  Until last year on this exact month of January, I had the call that altered my life.  I finally understood why no one talks about it, or rarely does so.  I understood why people don’t write about it.  It’s so very personal.  I admire those who can stand up in front of people and confront some of their biggest fears and biggest emotions in order for others to better understand what they are going through and that they are not alone.  I have not reached that stage yet, where I can openly write about it because at times, it still invoke emotions that bring tears to my eyes.  I do hope that one day I can muster that courage to write about the rollar coaster ride that came with the call, all the hurdles, all the emotions, the struggles, the confusion, the love and support I received.  Why?  Because I know it will help someone out there, to better understand what we, as paramedics, and other emergency responders go through at some point in our lives.  It will help not only the paramedics that are going through it or will go through it, but also their families. 

It hasn’t been easy the last several years making a living as a paramedic in BC.  Financially it can be a struggle at times, but I still tell myself and truly believe that this is the best job in the world.  In the last year, I made a personal record in going through five interviews and working four different jobs at different intervals on top of my paramedic gig.  I just recently landed a new side job that starts in February.  I’m hoping this is the one that will work as a perfect match with my paramedic schedule.  I also contemplated about going back to school in the next year or two to study as an RT (Respiratory Therapist), it is something I’m mulling over and have not yet come to a concrete decision.  Don’t get me wrong, I never intend to stop working as a paramedic, but I discovered it is important to have a job to fall back on when I get hurt on the job.  Because, it is inevitable we will eventually get hurt, in fact, I just recovered from a minor wrist injury and I have only been in the service for just over two years.

I find I have a lot less time to write ever since I met my better half and I continue to juggle work, adventures and travel.  As the posts trickle in here and there, I will always be vigilant in answering any questions that gets posted here on this blog. 

I want to thank all the readers for the wonderful comments you have left behind over the years, some of you finding inspiration, and many of you sharing the joy of getting into paramedic school and eventually becoming paramedics.  It appears that the purpose of my blog has been met, and it was you who made it happen.  Thank you.

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Comments
8 Responses to “4th Anniversary”
  1. Ria says:

    I’m about to start studying to be a paramedic. What advice can u offer me?

    • PocketMedic says:

      Hi Ria,

      Some that comes to mind would be:
      Understand the materials and don’t just memorize (this includes protocols too)
      – Be prepared to work very very hard, but remember to pace yourself, it’s not a sprint, but a marathon. Make sure you fit in some exercise or down time to relieve stress. There will be ups and downs but you will make it through.
      – Everybody has a different way of running a call, but the key is meeting the objectives (as a student you are taught to run things one way, but if you have multiple instructors, you may notice after a while that each person does something a little differently but each meets the main objective)
      – How you practice in class and treat your classmates (patients) will carry on into the streets, remember that patients will remember a paramedic who takes the time to comfort them, explain procedures to them, and listen to them. This attitude and empathy carries more weight than how good you are at starting an IV; a paramedic can have the best skills in the world and run the best protocols, but if their attitude is crap, then that is what the patient will remember.
      – Be inquisitive and have an open mind
      – Be prepared to spend time practicing calls outside of classroom times
      – Learn to work with all your classmates, even if your personality may clash with some people in your class
      – Set the bar high for yourself, ask yourself what type of paramedic you want to be and work towards that. Ask yourself if you were a patient and a paramedic is here to treat you, what type of paramedic would you want that person to be? A paramedic who graduates and understands just 75% of the curriculum or one that worked their butt off and is 94% proficient
      – If possible, read the class materials ahead of time
      – Most importantly have fun!

  2. Jason says:

    wow, good post. I am a 24year old from Surrey and have been thinking about becoming a parmedic for a long time now. I am looking for a fullfilling job and it think becoming a paramedic would be great. Thinking about applying at JIBC. I am a little nervous as ive heard alot of things about how many rookie paramedics dont find full time hours for over 2 years and, how when on call you only make $2 an hour, and how many paramedics balance 1 or 2 jobs on top of this to make ends meets. Is this true? Also wanted to know what institute you studied at, and is finding a job right after graduation difficult? Many people have suggested working in alberta around the oilfields as there is a high demand and pay is very very good.

    Also, what are your thoughts about the 8 month program in becoming a paramedic. Was it alot harder than you thought?

    Looking forward to hearing back from you!

    Thanks,

    Jason Z

    • PocketMedic says:

      Hi Jason,

      A lot of what you’ve mentioned above is true. To get full time requires about 5 years of seniority at the moment (this could change to be longer or shorter in the future), in other words, you will most likely at the PCP level, be part time for five years before you get full time.

      The pager pay shifts can be a bit confusing, so I’ll try and explain it to you below:

      It is true that depending on the shift you work, you can be making $2/hr when not called out. That is called a kilo shift, however, when you get a call, you automatically get paid a minimum of 4hrs at full wage, even if you only worked 2hrs out of the 4hrs. For example, you get paged and you do a call in 1hr, then you return to the station (you get 4hrs of full pay), 30minutes later, you get paged again, you finish this call in 2hrs and once again you get paid 4hrs. In total, you got paid 8hrs at full wage, but only worked 3hrs; on top of that, you get to keep the $2/hr for carrying a pager. At a busy station, this kilo pager pay can be a huge gain on money and a lot of part timers can make more money than full timers in this manner, but obviously is less stable as it is based on call out. The other pager shift is called a Fox shift. The Fox shift, unlike the Kilo, requires you to be in uniform and to stay at the station, it pays $10/hr and then you get full pay when you get a call out. On a call out, you automatically get 3hrs of full pay, even if you take fewer than 3hrs to complete the call. However, on those full paying hours, you lose those three hrs of the $10/hr when you get called out.

      I would say depending on where you work and whether you are willing to move to live at a busier station initially, you can make a living just working as a paramedic. It really depends on the station’s call volume, how many shifts they give you out of the ones you submit, and what type of cars (shift patterns, ie. Kilo, Fox, Bravo) they have. Most people do work more than one job, as it is nice to have a stable income. Many people treat working as a paramedic as a side gig along with their other job until they get full time. I will not lie, it can be difficult starting off as a paramedic in BC, especially if you’re in a relationship, or may have difficulty relocating for work. If you’re into traveling, it can be an advantage, as each place you work can be very different from the next in terms of people, types of call, etc. It’s always fun trying living in a different place and meeting new people in different places.

      All in all, in regards to money, it comes down to where you get hired, and which station you’re willing to go to. It is possible to live as a paramedic part time with no side job. Although I do suggest to keep a side job in mind in case you get hurt on the job, you have something to fall back on etc.

      It’s true Alberta pays paramedics a lot better than here in BC. It is an opportunity you can take, same with the oilfields if it works for you. Some people work BC Ambulance and the oilfields, and some work in Alberta and in BC. It’s just a matter of whether you’re willing to relocate. I personally didn’t move to Alberta because I like BC. And if I work full time in Alberta, then if I do want to come back to BC, the seniority won’t relay over, I will have to start back at zero when I come back to BC.

      I studied at the New Westminster JIBC campus. The following is my personal opinion: Since I had a background in Kinesiology (Anatomy and Physiology), I did not find the paramedic course to be very difficult knowledge-wise. It was however, very intense because of the amount one has to learn in a short period of time, also because the in class portions are mostly hands on, all readings are to be done in your own spare time. Because of this, I did find the course to be more difficult than university. What I mean by intense is that you wake up in the morning, go to school, it’s 90% hands on, with a few lectures here and there, you finish school at about 17:00 then it’s more practice with your classmates, you go home, you study, eat, sleep. Repeat.

      Hopefully that answers some of your questions. I’d be more than happy to clarify if I wasn’t clear in the above answers.

      M

  3. Tak says:

    Hi

    I have one question that I would like to ask you please.
    I am thinking about going either RN or Paramedic school in BC.
    I understand that you love working as a paramedic, but can you tell me your perspective of RN work please?

    I took the EMR course in JIBC and am right now working as a wilderness medicine instructor in Canada, US, Europe and Japan.
    I have worked as a mountain guide for the last 8 years and started the instructor career since 2010.
    I am a Japanese and have a permanent resident status in Canada.

    I would like to know your perception of paramedic and RN work please.

    Thanks

    • PocketMedic says:

      Hi Tak,

      It sounds like you have a lot of experience already as an instructor. It must be nice to be able to travel around as well!

      Since I am not an RN, my perspective is limited to what I have observed RNs do, my personal knowledge of RNs from either working with them or from my friends who are RNs. I think what you really have to decide is what you’re looking for in the job, either as an RN or as a Paramedic, and finance is also something to consider.

      I personally decided to become a paramedic because I felt that my personality did not fit that of an RN. I enjoyed being in a variety of places (I get to work on the street as a paramedic, enter other people’s apartments, work on the side of the road, or in a park, the city basically is my playground along with the hospitals). I can’t imagine being stuck in one ward and being with the same patients over and over again, I enjoy variety. I also like the autonomy of being a paramedic, I get to make my own decisions and basically work with a partner the whole day. It’s especially great when you and your partner kick it off well as a team. As a nurse I lose a bit of autonomy as there is a team structure. Not saying that nurses don’t make their own decisions, but carrying out doctors orders is also a huge part of their role.

      One major advantage to nursing compared to being a paramedic is pay. As a nurse, you don’t have pager pay like paramedics here in BC. You work and you get paid per hour at a good rate. However, it also means if you don’t already have a degree, you will need to spend more time in school (4yrs) to get a nursing degree. Another advantage is that nurses can easily transfer from one department to another, so you can rotate from orthopedics, to post op, to ER, to neonates. There’s a much bigger field of growth in terms of diversity as it’s not just emergency medicine.

      If you’re interested in RN and paramedicine, I’d suggest you also look into Respiratory Therapy (RT).

      • Tak says:

        Thank you very much.

        I have 2 degrees, one in Sports Science(Kinesiology) and the other in Adventure Tourism.
        I am very ready to challenge either paramedic or RN.
        I have lived in Whistler for the last 7 years and love to stay there longer.
        I will do a research of both paramedic and RN position openings.

        Thank you again 🙂

  4. Farrah H says:

    Hi 🙂 my name’s farrah and i am a 15 year old grade 10 student, living in Ontario. Im reeeaaallly into becoming a paramedic when i am older. I was inspired to become one when i first encountered one who saved my life last year. I had a seizure and went into cardiac arrest. His name was mike lol :p so now i find myself riding in the back of ambulances a lot because of the whole epilepsy thing …but it really inspired me. I love what they do. I understand all of the job’s highs and lows. I am a st.johns ambulance youth leader and i have already started studying for it all. I am currently learning how to administer an IV and am getting my EMR training done. (It really interests me!) i am 100% sure its what i want to do. Lol i even wrote a letter to myself to open when i graduate the paramedic program i want to go to at the specific college i would like to attend. I love reading all these interesting stories on your blog, and i was wondering if you had any advice about the job, requirements, college, bad calls, etc. for the aspiring paramedic here c: thanks so much it would be greatly appreciated 😀
    ~Farrah

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  • Courage is the discovery that you may not win, and trying when you know you can lose. -Tom Krause
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