I was asked by Rescue Monkey if I was interested in submitting something for the 21st Edition of The Handover. The subject is burnout; he said he “naturally” thought of me. Perhaps if you’ll indulge me, I’ll share a little story.

Several years ago I was getting a little tired of work. As you know, there were probably multiple reasons for that, reasons with which you all are familiar.

My excellent regular EMT partner, R, left the area. In his place, a brand-new medic, A, was assigned to be my partner, as all new medics are required to work with older ones who are expected to keep an eye on them.

I was not looking forward to it, because I don’t like watching over new people, not knowing anything about how they work and what their motivations are. I’ve noticed over the years that new people are becoming younger and younger, and without appropriate exposure to life experiences, their attitudes are generally terrible. They expect to be paid to do nothing, and they think what we call “work” is actually an inconvenience to them. They don’t take pride in their work or their appearances, they can’t accept the possibility that they may be wrong, and they think EMS is about looking cool and driving fast, and not about often doing a lot of things we don’t want to do.

Also, if they’re idiots, I don’t like that somehow I’m indirectly assuming responsibility for everything they do and for keeping them in line. Not only do I have to be watching in case they fumble clinically, I have to pay attention so they don’t say anything stupid to the patient. I have to make sure they don’t offend the family. I have to keep them from pissing off the hospital. I have to be quick to grab the mic before they give the dispatchers attitude. I didn’t volunteer to babysit these people and no one asked me if I wanted to. If something bad happens, managers always blame the older guy.

It didn’t start off looking that great on A’s first day, which was also his first shift on his own – he got the narcs and left it sitting on the gurney without locking it up. But it quickly turned upward, and he turned out to be a really easy-going and funny partner who had no problem whatsoever dealing with other people, even the worst of the assholes. I ended up spending about 6 months with him, and he made work enjoyable again. I learned a great deal from him and hopefully he learned something from even someone like me.

He will forever be credited with pulling me back from the brink. And for that I am grateful. Good help is hard to find. I know you already know that.

5 thoughts on “Brink”

  1. I am glad he worked out! My biggest issue with newbies is that they would rather act like complete asses in front of the patient, family members and hospital staff than realize this is a profession! No, I don’t want to hear stories of your last horror-call while we are taking care of this patient now! Or how your last partner screwed up. These people are the reason why doctors don’t consider EMS to be a profession!

  2. I’m a new EMT, but being as I’m almost 30, most of my senior partners treat me with more respect then some of my younger counterparts. I have noticed that two of the 20 year olds I started with, and went through orientation with, get shit on a lot more then I do, which I don’t think is fair. They are two of the most responsible young guys I have ever met, and quite honestly, a lot more mature then most of the medics I now work with.

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