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To what degree do medicals and false alarms dampen the spirits of busy city f/fs?

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  • To what degree do medicals and false alarms dampen the spirits of busy city f/fs?

    I have been a vol. f/f for 8 years, we get about 130-150 calls a year which includes about only 5-6 medical calls that we get when the ambulance is extra busy or there is a snow storm or something.

    I'm not saying my experience level is a lot but to give background: I have done about 10 interior attacks and about 10-15 from the outside (good mutual aid system). I have helped work on two people that ended up expiring; one from a heart attack, one from a fire.

    After 8 years of volunteering (not even paid per call),I am finding the calls that end up being nothing at all annoying because of the interruption to my day, they are indeed boring, and I don't get paid for the hassle.

    I have a good paying job and very good standard of living but the job is not rewarding and is dull and dry. I am considering trying to become a Paramedic to help get hired as a paid F/F somewhere.

    I know it depends on the city and the station but how bored do guys get at all the false alarms and medicals?

    There is enough comradery and rewarding calls I guess to satisfy with no problem?

  • #2
    EMS runs are a necessary evil or bonus to the job depending on how you look at it. When I went through medic school and found out all the things we could do with EMS I began to enjoy it more, its kind of like detective work if you think about it.

    As for false calls and EMS runs being annoying, I have to disagree. I hate, let me reiterate, I hate sitting around the station. Any oppertunity to leave on a run whether it be false, EMS, or a 5 alarm fire I love it.. but maybe I'm just young

    FF. Mike Burnes
    Whitehall Fire Division


    • #3
      I think it depends entirely on the individual. We have guys that bitch and moan about EMS whether the calls are ligit or not. They "didn't get into this for EMS." I can nearly buy that lame excuse from the guys that have been here for 25 years, but we have guys that have only been here for 2-3 years saying it. My fire department has had EMS/ambulance service in it for nearly 2 decades.

      Spook...I agree totally. I enjoy the good calls and the stupid ones. It's nice just to get out and mingle amongst the people in my opinion. It sure makes the job more fun if you have a positive attitude about it anyway.

      Anyway, the way I see it, I get paid to be there for 24 hours at a time. If I make fire runs all day, if I make EMS runs all day, if I make a mix of fire/EMS runs, or if we don't leave the house once...THE PAY IS THE SAME.

      If the fire dept. you want to work for is running EMS, then understand that bogus EMS runs are part of the deal. You can get mad about it or you can just laugh at it. If you don't think you can deal w/ the boredom of non-critical EMS runs, you might think about a different job.

      [This message has been edited by gah74 (edited 05-23-2001).]


      • #4
        I'm with spook, I'd rather run then sit around. The difference between a false alarm or the biggest fire of your career is the next auto alarm that comes in. If your looking to do this as a profession, then you better get the false calls are annoying out of your system. The fact that you don't get paid for the hassle is your choice. When I was an EMT, I loved BLS, when I was a medic, BLS bored me and couldn't wait to get a open shift for the ALS houses. Now I'm just content. Yes it is nice to run calls, but then there are days I'm glad I don't. Its like Gah said, whether I run 0 or a 1000 in a shift, the paychecks the same.

        The above is my opinion only and doesn't reflect that of any dept/agency I work for, deal with, or am a member of.


        • #5
          I think it depends how you came to be running EMS. In my area, it's pretty much a way of life for the engines (and even ladders, if it's a busy day) to run with the (FD-operated) EMS. It's been that way for decades in some cases, and it's going to stay that way.

          Now take the case of Hartford just starting to run First Responder in the last few months and yeah, a lot of those guys are probably pretty PO'd and worn out from the extra runs.

          I have noticed that the complaints seem to come most often from members of fire departments who run EMS calls but don't operate EMS units- ie, their jurisdiction is served by a seperate agency or private company. Not a rule, just a general observation.


          • #6
            I just wanted to add one more thing. RRR, there is one thing you will notice if you ever come on this job, and you probably see it even as a vollie. Firefighters are like Marines, and they always told us, Marines aren't happy unless they bitch. Well its the same in the fire service. FF's bitch about EMS cause its there. Take away EMS and they'd just find something else to complain about.

            The above is my opinion only and doesn't reflect that of any dept/agency I work for, deal with, or am a member of.


            • #7
              One thing to add real quick. We all kind of put our guard down when the dispatch message is "fire alarm", but about 2 months ago, a "fire alarm" turned into a 5 alarm fire involving pretty much every company on the east side of columbus as well as some companies from the north, south, and even the columbus fire station that is furthest west dispatched their ladder there. Just food for thought

              FF. Mike Burnes
              Whitehall Fire Division


              • #8
                Thanks for the discussion so far on this. I should try to explain myself a little more too: I'm not at all against running medical calls. With my department in particular though, if we responded to all medicals we would definately have to have a paid day staff and paid per call after 4:00 or 5:00 p.m. First responders is a great service for the public. The main goal is to try to help people when they are sick or injured so even if the F.D. gets to a patient well ahead of the ambulance on only the odd occasion, it is still worth it and every second counts too.

                I loving being a firefighter and can't see ever leaving it. If I had one wish right now it would be to be a paid F/F and hopefully live in a nice area.

                As far as alarms sounding and such, we have f/fs that don't pack up if it sounds like a building alarm(it's not strictly enforced to do so). I always do and tell them that some day the place could be on fire so I'd rather be ready.

                It's just that after 8 years as a vollie the nothing calls are starting to make me feel like I should be being paid 10 bucks or something. The calls that have something to them reward me with accomplishment and the feeling like I'm helping to do something. The nothing calls give a fun ride to the scene but then you wish you could get back home to do what you were doing.

                The crux of my concern is getting into a paid dept.(if I was lucky enough) and at a station that is say... in a downtown business district of new construction. I know you can still easily have actual fires and accidents in a place like this but I just have visions of running almost nothing but building alarms and medicals most of the time. Maybe in new business districts there are so many people and so many structures that things happen more than I think, I really don't know, someone tell me. I live in a rural area but lived in a small city for two years.


                • #9

                  How can you not want to sit around at the brand spanking new fire station of yours...and BTW, you had more like 6 or 7 alarms worth of stuff at T&C...


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