Union County, NJ

Male, 24

I have been a certified Emergency Medical Technician (E.M.T.) for over 6 years. I am the true "first responder" and have been dispatched to over 1,000 calls including medical, trauma, and psychiatric emergencies. How do I handle the stress and what goes on in my mind when YOUR life is on the line? Find out by asking me anything!

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181 Questions


Last Answer on May 17, 2012

Best Rated

What are the roles of each person in the ambulance? Are you usually the driver, or does your crew alternate who does what?

Asked by Sal over 12 years ago

First off, this policy varies by organization. State law requires at minimum a certified EMT and a certified EVOC (emergency vehicle operations course) driver per ambulance. My squad requires at least TWO state certified EMT who are also EVOC certified per crew. Thus, both members are able to provide medical care and drive the ambulance. To answer your question, I can either drive the ambulance or provide patient care. Usually, my partner and I will simply take turns driving. We alternate. There is often a "probationary" member who is either certified or not certified. This member just observes and acts as an extra pair of hands to help lift the patient and transport equipment. The idea is that this "probationary" member will become a regular member after receiving state certification and passing the squad's training program.

How many persons are allowed to ride in an ambulance with the patient? Have you ever had any serious drama with a person who wanted to ride along but was not allowed to?

Asked by phxwhat! over 12 years ago

Legally, every person riding in the ambulance must have a seat belt. This means that we technically have capacity for 5 more people besides the treating EMT and patient. We have no official policy on how many chaperons can ride along. However, we usually just allow one extra person to keep things simple. When we deal with special populations (kids or psychiatric patients), we usually allow two or more chaperones to take the ride. I have never had any serious drama or fights with a person who wanted to ride but was not allowed to.

Has your ambulance ever gotten into an accident with an emergency in progress?

Asked by Sylvio over 12 years ago

Luckily, this has never happened to me. However, when it does happen, the consequences tend to be grave. The fact that ambulances run red lights and disobey the rules of the road make driving an ambulance a very difficult task. I encourage everyone who is reading this to PLEASE pull over for an ambulance, fire truck or police car even if the vehicle is on the other side of the road. You wouldn't believe how many cars won't yield to me! It's dangerous and drives me crazy. I actually responded to an ambulance accident once, which is ironic. A car in front of the ambulance stopped short and because of momentum, a small fender bender occurred. Fortunately, no one was hurt. We transported the original patient to the hospital.

What's the maximum weight of a person an ambulance can carry? If there was emergency for a 700-lb man, for example, would EMTs pick him up, or is that something that requires more crew and a larger vehicle?

Asked by Sy's Matters over 12 years ago

Good question. This problem is unfortunately much more common in society now-a-days (the obesity rate rose in EVERY SINGLE STATE last year with a few states having around 30% of their population qualifying as obese). Our squad just purchased new, electronic stretchers that can accommodate up to 700 pounds. Now, I'm not exactly sure if a 700 lb. person can fit in the ambulance. I'd guess that would be quite difficult. I would guess that the biggest person we could transport in the ambulance comfortably would be about 500 pounds. Again, just a guess. Now if we had an emergency for a 700 lb. person, we would be calling the fire department for a lift assist. This is often an important role for firemen. When we need "muscle" for heavy lifting jobs, we call our fire department. If we needed to transport a 700 lb. man and he couldn't fit in the ambulance. I would think that we could try to transport him in the fire truck. This vehicle has much more room.

Have you had a lot of patients die in your ambulance? How did you feel the first time this happened?

Asked by zacharyQ over 12 years ago

I have never had a patient die in front of me. I have, however, responded to patients who are DOA (dead on arrival). This has only happened a few times to me and each time I was responding to a nursing home. Each person deals with death as an EMT differently. However, if the situation was particularly traumatic of difficult (death of child) we are required to attend a small group counseling session. Personally, I am not bothered by these types of situations.

Has your crew ever sounded the sirens to get through traffic even though you had no patient or emergency to tend to?

Asked by Grimlock over 12 years ago

While it is tempting, I have never done this. I would imagine we would get in trouble with the police. Interestingly, there are no rules on when you should or shouldn't use the siren. Many times if I am transporting a patient who is not having an acute medical emergency, I will drive to the hospital without lights or sirens. Driving with lights and sirens is the most dangerous thing I do as an EMT. While it is fun and exciting, I care more about transporting my patient and my crew to the hospital as safely and securely as possible. Furthermore, when responding to psychiatric emergencies, we do not use the lights and sirens as to not agitate or scare the patient. One time, after picking up food, I accidentally turned the emergency lights on without knowing it. I was confused as to why the cars in front of me were all pulling over. I then realized what I had done and quickly shut them off. This was during the daytime when its hard to see the lights from inside the ambulance.

Do you think age 18 is too young to become an EMT? While I'm sure there are many smart and responsible teens out there, I'm not sure I'd want a teenager handling me if I were in life-threatening situation.

Asked by Shel-B over 12 years ago

No, I do not think 18 is too young to become an EMT. To tell you the truth, I've met a few 40- or 50-year-old EMTs who I would be a little hesitant to let treat me in a life-threatening emergency. Being a "smart" or "responsible" EMT comes down to one thing, EXPERIENCE. How can an 18 year old be experienced in anything? Let me explain. In New Jersey, one can obtain a provisional EMT license by taking taking a course and passing the state exam as young as 16 years old. This allows the 16-year-old EMT to join volunteer squads and "ride-along" as a probationary member. Once this EMT turns 18, he or she will have had two years of experience, which is a good amount in the volunteer business. Furthermore, there's no reason to believe that an adult can't come to a mature and independent decision better than an 18-year-old. This is what the EMT course teaches: acute medical decision making based on signs and symptoms. During training, the student needs to pass both didactic and practical examinations many times. This prepares anyone who passes the state exam to handle life threatening emergencies. Finally, my volunteer squad requires at least two certified and experienced EMTs per ambulance. Any member who joins my squad needs to pass our own training process which lasts anywhere from a few months to a few years before they are allowed to take calls with only one other riding member. This policy varies between organizations but the fundamental nature is still the same. The idea is to make sure the member has enough experience and is trusted by the other members before they are allowed to handle a life-threatening emergency by themselves. In conclusion, I encourage anybody older than 16 to apply to become an EMT with confidence.