Without evidence of benefit, an intervention should not be presumed to be beneficial or safe.

- Rogue Medic

Do You Have An EMS Fall Back Plan?

This week on EMS Office Hours, Jim Hoffman, Josh Knapp, and I discuss some of the options when we cannot work.

Do You Have An EMS Fall Back Plan?


Josh and I both disagreed with Jim’s suggestion that an EMS background is important in sales of EMS products. EMS sales is not selling very technical equipment. How much do you need to understand to sell drugs or intubation equipment? There experience will matter more, but to sell ambulances, stair chairs, stretchers, equipment bags, et cetera – sales skill is much more important.

Of the people I know who got out of EMS, most are nurses or doctors (some became both). Outside of medicine, most have gone into computer programming/repair.

What happens if you are fired, or put on unpaid leave?

I have always preferred to have several other jobs. At one point, I had a total of 10 teaching and EMS jobs. The frequency with which I worked at the different jobs varied from once every few months to once, or twice, a week and then my full-time job. I do tend to take things a bit farther than most.

On the other hand, I have been fired from a full-time job for trying to get the medical director to do something about an incompetent medic. This was not the only time I have opposed my employer on dealing with incompetence, but it is the only time I was fired for it.

Unemployment insurance can be very helpful. Having other jobs to work at occasionally does decrease the amount of money we receive, but not until after income reaches a certain level, so it is not designed to discourage work. More important is that we do not lose that money, but we extend the amount of time we are eligible for benefits.

Unemployment insurance is money we have paid into as part of our payroll deductions. Based on the amount of money we make, we are entitled to a certain amount of money over time. The time can be extended until all of the money is paid out, or until we are consistently making more than the amount that would allow us to receive payments.

Networking helps in getting another full-time job. Sometimes being fired by one employer is seen as a badge of honor by other employers. “Why did you ever go there? Of course they were going to fire you eventually.”

Unemployment insurance allows payments as long as we are actively looking for work. It is not an excuse to take a vacation, but it may allow time to get other training/education that may improve the quality of the next job.

In one particularly bad year for me, I was laid off from two of the best jobs I have had. In February/March, I was laid off from a regular part-time job because the paramedic services were being switched to the local hospital for political reasons. In August, I was laid off from my full-time job because the paramedic services were being switched from the local hospital for political reasons. I did receive a nice severance package from the hospital in addition to unemployment. The hospital also provided me with information about how to handle that so that I did not run into problems with unemployment – if we do not tell the unemployment office, it can be a very bad thing.

Unfortunately, we did not talk much about unemployment insurance on the show. Unemployment benefits will vary from state to state, so my experience may not be representative.



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  1. Currently EMS IS my fallback plan. I am set to graduate with my masters in Dec but I don’t have another job lined up yet. With ~$80k in student loans and dwindling savings and checking I’ll have to make a part time EMS gig my main income for a little while, taking extra shifts whenever possible.

  2. Interesting.

    I’m a software engineer who’s recently taken a fascination to EMS and have become a volunteer with our local Ambulance Service. My full-time job lets me have a moderately flexible schedule to allow me to help the community when needed.

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