Confessions of a New York City Paramedic: ‘The EMS System in NYC Is Breaking’

You may know Reddit as that wonderful social media community that yields things like AMA, or “Ask Me Anything” threads, wherein people who have had life experiences (like surviving being shot in the head) or jobs (like being a celebrity, or an investment banker) get asked by the public what it’s really like out there. But today, a thread like this appeared not in the AMA section of Reddit, but in one of the New York City-specific threads, wherein a paramedic moving to the city was looking for information about jobs.

The help they got from Reddit was practical, sure. On the whole, though, for the general public, it’s fairly enlightening.

For example, on the job quality of New York City paramedics:

It’s not that great. NYC has about 1.4 million calls per year – around 4,500 calls a day with an EMS staff of around 3,000 people total – that includes lieutenants not involved with patient care and those who are off that day entirely. With the exception of a few areas (and all of Staten Island), you’ll probably be busy no matter where you are…

On how paramedics are treated:

Not that great, but it depends on your lieutenants. I have a bunch that are really awesome and that I know that as long as I do the right thing they’ll have my back. Others are just there to bust balls.

On EMS’ relationship with the FDNY:

EMS, as a whole, is the red-headed step child of the FDNY. The thing about working for the hospitals is that FDNY [lieutenants] are also your supervisors, and have the power to write you up as well, even if you are not FDNY. Usually they won’t go anywhere, but you’ll have to deal with our LTs and your hospital supervisors – just another layer of nonsense to deal with. The EMS system in NYC is breaking, if it’s not already broken.

On what it’s like working for FDNY lieutenants:

One the whole, most [FDNY lieutenants] probably don’t have your back. […] They need to make a name for themselves in order to get promoted to Captain (like I said before, it’s all appointed after LT), and in order to make a name for themselves they need to write up as many people as possible and they won’t think twice about screwing you over to get it.

Finally, on what you can expect to spend most of your working hours doing:

You’ll spend the vast amount of your time transporting drunks that come in as unconscious and colds and flus that come in as chest pains because they have a cough. It’s even worse for EMTs.

Good news, however:

There are definitely good jobs to be had out there – shootings, stabbings, MIs, serious MVAs or Pedestrian Strucks, etc, but there are so many units out there to deal with all the bullshit they’ll be few and far in-between. Some days will be better than others, however – a few months ago I got a violent guy on PCP, a legit diff breather, a legit fire with people trapped, and a shooting all in the same day. So those days do exist where you’ll really go to work and they’re a ton of fun.

Emphasis all ours, and now you know: All it all, it would appear much hasn’t changed since Bringing Out The Dead.

fkamer@observer.com | @weareyourfek

Confessions of a New York City Paramedic: ‘The EMS System in NYC Is Breaking’