T Nation

Any Paramedics/EMTs/Firefighters?


Or any other first responders ? I just finished my paramedic program here and I'm just waiting to write my national exam. Just wondering, I'm case anyone bites and wants to post, a few discussion questions

1) how long have you been a first responders for?
2) what are your work hours like?
3) how do you fit in training around your rotations?


2 1/2 years as a full time EMT. 24 on 24 off, after the third day on I get 4 days off. I've been trying different approaches to weight training since I started.

What I decided is, I had to forget the 7 day week. I live on a 9 day week. Your schedule may be different. My best training days are my work days. I get in 30 minutes of calisthenics, mostly pull-ups, push-ups, globet squats, etc, followed by hill sprints for another 15-20 before I go to work.

At work I'll try to get in 45-60 minutes of weights, mostly cleans and presses, or bench and rows. I just focus on those one or two big lifts for my hour. If I get interrupted and have to run a call, I come back, do a short warmup and pick up where I left off. I squat on my inbetween days. Which sucks because I'm often on no sleep. I take a few hours long nap in the middle of the day, drink a little coffee and squat before supper. I also train on the 2nd and 3rd of my 4 days off, before I go in to my part time job.

I've tweeked my back twice squating (pathetic weights) which caused me several days of missed work, and several months of depressing half-assed training with light weights while my back healed up. Both times my lower back was warning me before the injury occurred but I was too gung-ho to take heed. The last time was this past November, and I know I set the stage for my injury by picking up a 300+ pounder with a bad foot, trying to help him into his son's car after he went splat in a parking lot. It wasn't that I didn't have help, it was just that there was no room between me, the patient and the car door for anyone else to get in there and lift . My back was a little sore after that, but it wasn't bad. Not til the next afternoon when I started warming up to front squat.

Anyway. I had to buy and bring most of the weights I use at work. They had a decent Olympic weight set, and a death trap of a bench that I was scarred to put even 185 on. I bought a better bench on craigslist, brought in my own bumper plates, and hung up a chin-up bar in the bunk room (easier to ask forgiveness than permission). The set up still sucks, but it's just me and a 60+ year old dude with bladder cancer (who works on a different shift) who uses it, so we're lucky we have that.

24 hour shifts are hell on your sleep and recovery, but you're tougher than you think. Getting good food sucks. You have to learn to make the most of a lot of very bad choices. If you're used to pre-fixing meals you'll be ahead of the game, but depending on where you work your crew might like to eat together. If so you should not be a douche-bag and eat with them. That's all I got for now. Might write another wall of text later.


I just hire EMT-B's and P's have about 30 or 40 who work for me around the country.


I hire the ones who are tired of riding a box and lifting 400 pound land mammals.




So anybody with + 6 weeks of experience?


Its all about the age and the person. I do occupational medicine. Its not hard medicine but you cant be an asshole. Most of this is working for Exxon, Marathon, BP and others. I have taken some new grads, but those were a little older already. 20 year old new Paramedic I discourage them from trying to work for us. They need experience in the field.


I'm not yet, but I just finished the fire academy and am just over half way through EMT training. In my area, most stations are 24/48. There's a big push around here to hire fit firefighters/EMTs, so most station houses have some sort of fitness center/weight training on-site. If I end up somewhere that doesn't have something on-site, I have everything I need at home and will have plenty of time to train off shift. I hope that's the case, anyway.


I was just making a joke about how quickly one gets tired of moving the land beasts. Some people get tired of the box pretty fast too. It's not the stressful calls either that burns them out but the taxi rides. The traumas and strokes and what not make it worth while, but you don't want to sit around wishing that some wrecks their car, at least I don't.


As someone who calls on that particular taxi when dealing with crisis calls or working with kids too volatile to be in a caretaker's car, I appreciate that you're there. The cops as well. I was covering a crisis pager a couple of weeks ago and had to have a guy picked up.

I know it's tedious, but it's needed and valued.


Yeah, my goal with this career is to get in and get dirty for 5 years or so and then maybe find something with an easier 9 to 5 type schedule as an instructor or something similar, I see a lot of older medics who are all beat up and burnt out from doing it too long. I also have some pretty lofty bodybuilding goals I'd like to accomplish before just training to stay In shape. I envision some rough times precontest with this line of work down the road


No, that's not what I'm talking about. Those are legitimate calls.


Oh! I would have said that they're often gray area (chronic suicide threateners, many of them, of questionable legitimacy as emergencies. . .the "tedious" I was referring to). I was just saying that as one of the people charged with their care them I'm glad there are people to call.

Who are you talking about?


That would be a very long rant. I'll come back to it when I have time, but right now I'm at my part-time job.

For the record I have far more patience for the silly "attempted suicides" than most of my colleagues. You cannot leave a fellow human being in certain conditions, even when it is of their own making.


Most stations have a gym, mine do at least. As far as training though I usually make my work days which is about 3 a week my off days.


I'm a fireman. Before getting picked up I worked on an ambulance for almost a year and a half.

My schedule is 1 day on, 1 day off for 4 shifts (a cycle) and after the 4th shift you get 4 days off. Then you work a other cycle (1on,1off for 4) and then you get 6 days off. And that just keeps repeating and repeating.

Days that I work I lift in our gym at the station and do "functional cardio" in full gear out on the grinder. I do 2 a days every shift and don't workout on the off days mid cycle. During my 4 day or 6 day I'll get into the gym and lift a day or two as well. (Obviously the workouts depend on calls volume and all that)


I work with a number of these frequent flyers and have a great deal of sympathy. No one wants to be at the mercy of quick-firing emotions that are too strong (or the host too weak) to regulate. They also view themselves as many other people do - as utterly incompetent human beings - which is a source of agony.

"Of their own making," yes and no. I lean more toward no. It's almost like emotional amnesia - they genuinely can't remember on any real level that these thoughts and behaviors bite them in the ass every single time.

I'm also acutely aware that eventually, working in the field I do, someone will suicide. It is statistically likely to be one of the frequent gesturers.

Sucks. I was being sincere when I said "tedious." But it's also heartbreaking.


I was not talking about the genuinely mentally ill when I say of their own making. Some people have dug themselves into a pretty deep hole through drug and alcohol abuse. Sometimes the drugs started as prescriptions for genuine hurts, but the patient lets them take over their life. A lot of people will become suicidal when they realize how deep that hole has gotten.

I would also rank obesity and the maladies associated with it as of someone's own making.

I'm working EMS tomorrow, and if we're not busy I'll try to describe the average taxi ride.


I'm a full-time fireman/EMT/HazMat Tech...

I've been on it for 3 years now. My schedule is actually the only thing that keeps me there. I work about 10 days a month, 24 hour shifts. Every third weekend I get a 4 day weekend, just started one this morning actually :slightly_smiling: I get to work just before 7:30AM and leave the next morning at 7:30. I train almost every day I am off from work, I use my days at work as "rest days" from lifting. I'm usually too unmotivated at work to lift heavy things.

I've been on both ends of the spectrum as far as call volume. I started at a ridiculously busy station out of rookie school running around 3,000 calls per year on an Engine company and got transferred to a HAZMAT team where we are much slower, probably around 700 calls per year. We sleep almost every night, thank God. Like mentioned above, working a 24 hour shift and being busy is very tough on the body. I've lifted on absolutely zero sleep on many, many occasions. I am not someone who can take a nap, because it jacks my sleeping cycles up-- so I just have to tough it out when I come home.

The best thing about being a fireman is the time off. I have 6 weeks off paid vacation coming up... can't beat it. There is no way in hell I would be a paramedic or EMT on an ambulance truck, that has got to be one of the worst jobs on the planet. Couldn't be a cop either. Fire is a nice blend of down time, "excitement" whatever that means, and is good because your work days are spread out. At least our schedule is. Although, it is a lot of hours when added up and it can be hard emotionally at times (relating to some calls).


Let's see had my EMT since 95, Firefighter since 2001

My department works a 48/96 (2 days on with 4 days off)

Work out when I'm on shift (it's part of our SOP's), work out when I'm off and do other physical activities as I want to.