If you work in EMS, you experience many challenges during your shift. These challenges begin with always being in a state of readiness to safely arrive on-scene. Once you're there, you jump directly into the thick of the challenge and immediately start assessing problems with the information you can obtain at the time. It’s stressful, exhausting, exhilarating, and yet addictive at the same time—all these things and more.
Aside from treating and transporting patients, there are constantly other things to keep up with: ongoing training for new or updated software, equipment and devices, the latest industry treatment recommendations, and agency rules and regulations. Can EMS workers become fatigued, burned out, and experience depression? Absolutely! Why do they continue to do it, then?
Because while these challenges can and often do occur, there’s something internally higher that drives them to be a part of a “greater good”—to undergo uncomfortable situations for the benefit of others. This at its root is called altruism. Altruism has many shades of definition, but at its core, altruism is about individuals who put the needs and concerns of others above their own comfort and well-being. Altruism is a common trait for many in EMS. One example—amongst many—is a paramedic working out in freezing weather trying to safely extricate a patient from an MVA.