Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rookie rant

I've been sitting here for the past couple hours reading through some older posts on a lot of different paramedic/firemedic blogs.

I've noticed a bit of a trend. It scares me to be able to say that not only have I noticed it, but I've been sorely affected by it.

A lot of EMT's, especially the FNG, flat-out suck.

The reason this is so scary, is that with just over 5 years in, I know I'm still a rookie.

Even since I was hired, I've noticed a sharp decline in the quality of people making it through the academy. I'm not talking about the folks that are just hard to get along with, or that don't wanna play the whole "rookie gets the shit jobs" routine. I'm talking about the knuckle-dragging idiots that I'm surprised passed the tests, have a driver's license, or even managed to dress themselves this morning.

A few examples:

Rookie #1: Has been shown many times over how to read a map book. They constantly get lost on the main drags in their own territory. I've run a few calls with them, and seen first-hand how bad it is. Rookie strangely disappears whenever we need to lift the stretcher, carry jump bags, etc. I've also watched this person take a good 5 minutes to park their POV at the station. I don't even want to remember the horror that nearly occurred when they tried to share the bay with the ladder on accident.

Rookie #2: Is rarely visible once trucks are checked and station has been cleaned. They prefer to go sit on their laptop or cell phone. This person also was condescending to a 10+ year firemedic on a fire scene, doing stupid things like calling him rookie.

Rookie #3: Is at a station with 2 other rookies, so plenty of rotation for units and sendoffs. They pitched a damn fit when it was their turn to be sent off to another station. Granted, this rookie has some experience elsewhere, but that doesn't mean a damn thing in this department. All that matters is your hire date.

Even though I'm not currently a paramedic, I like to think of myself as a pretty decent EMT. I know my truck well and can set up/start IV's, 3-leads, 12-leads, mark drugs given on the monitor, set up for ETT, etc. I know enough about reading the monitor to make a pretty good guess at what's going on, relay a decent report to the hospital, and whatever else my partner asks me to do (if I'm not already on it).

For a long time, the ambulance I rode every shift was staffed with just 2 EMTs. It wasn't easy and I felt burn-out quite often, but I pressed on knowing it was one of the busiest trucks and couldn't really get any worse as long as I had a decent partner.

One of the things I stuck to was going call-for-call. There were a couple occasions where that didn't happen, but it was made up for. Like the time it was my partner's turn to tech and we had an 80-something y/o man who had an open ankle fracture. He was new to the idea of actually using his EMT certs and was stuck in the deer-in-headlights mode, so I asked if he needed help and wanted me to take it. He nodded and gave a pretty smooth ride to the ER. I almost waited onscene for ALS for pain meds, but decided we could have the patient at the hospital by the time ALS arrived to the scene. He was tolerating pain extremely well and vitals were stable.

Then there are the 2-20 firemen. Rookies with 2 years in, that act like old jakes with 20 years experience.

We ran a call, and the type of call has no real bearing on the story. I went out to the truck to grab the stretcher. Our trucks are large, and should kneel when the rear doors are opened. I noticed the truck wasn't in high idle and didn't kneel. When I went to the kick the e-brake thinking my partner forgot to, I was both pissed and a little bit horrified. The truck wasn't in park!

Many of our trucks seem to get "stuck" in park. All you have to do is mash the brake to the floor, push the shifter back, up and then drop the gears like normal. My partner apparently decided in his infinite wisdom to leave the truck in neutral and just hit the e-brake.

As soon as we cleared the call, I was on him. If the truck gets stuck in park, it gets stuck in park and we'll just call another unit for the transport, but you have to put the truck in park. Diesels WILL jump out of gear. His response only fueled my rage. He didn't want to listen because we're both firefighter II's, so I wasn't his boss.

Bad move on his part.

Not only was I hired before he was, I made rank before he did, AND was listed as riding seat that day. 3 strikes against him. At something crazy like 10 or 11pm, I called the station captain on the nextel and told him what happened, and my partner's reasoning for things. He met us on the front apron back at the station. Guess who got an ass-chewing that night?

The last thing I want is to be that bitch, but I'm not gonna let some lazy, knuckle-dragging, fatass, mouth breathing idiot get me in trouble if I can help it. I do a good enough job of that on my own, TYVM.

And then there's the guys with over 20 years in, that just flat out scare you with what they know is right, no matter how wrong it actually is. I'll save that one for another day though.


Capt. Schmoe said...

Yeah..... The eternal rookie problem. It's funny, I have thought about this a lot. My agency is tough on "boots". If you fail a test, you're done. Thats it, no questions asked. As a result, there are a lot of people from local C.C. academies, ambulance companies and other agencies that won't even test with us. That practice eliminates a lot of folks that might not meet our standards before they even hit the floor. It also convinces recruits that we are serious.

The other thing is, it might be an economy based thing. When times are good, quality people tend to go where they can make a good living. Sales, mortgage industry, banking, investment counseling etc. When times are tough, you see people looking for security and a stable living. I think you will see the quality of recruits improve over the next few years.

On a positive note, the best boot I ever had came off of probation a few months ago. So there are quality people out there.

AdCy said...

Oh, girl, I feel your pain...on a regular basis! Because I am speaking up, I am now known as that bitch. However, I feel that since these guys are the ones that will have my back on a fire scene (I just broke out in a cold sweat...) I have every right to call them on their bullshit. And as a medic, I am dealing with a brand of recruits that have no desire to be on an ambulance, and let me know by their patient care.
I do vow to win this fight...

The Dispatcher and Her Officer said...

Sadly it the same issue on the police and dispatching side. I've known some people even demote themselves as trainers because they were tired of the crap that was getting hired on.