Who Am I?


Sometimes I help with delivering babies – but I'm not a midwife.

Sometimes I deal with drunks – but I'm not a barman.

Sometimes I deal with assaults – but I'm not a policeman.

Sometimes I deal with mental health problems – but I'm not a psychiatrist.

Sometimes I deal with other people's grief – but I'm not a counsellor.

Sometimes I leave sick people at home – but I'm not a GP.

Sometimes I fix stair-lifts – but I'm not a mechanic.

Sometimes I just sit and listen to other people's problems – but I'm not an agony aunt.

Sometimes I just move a person from one place to another – but I'm not a taxi driver.

Sometimes I drive an ambulance – but I'm not an ambulance driver.


It's that last one, 'ambulance driver' that I'm mostly called, that or 'Paramedic'. Yet 'ambulance driver' is the one that most annoys my boss.

“They call you an ambulance driver”, he tells me, “I thought we'd moved away from that?”

He's right of course, an 'ambulance driver' seems to just drive the ambulance, or at least that's what some people think. It's something that the ambulance service has been trying to stamp out for quite some time as we obviously do much more than that, something that I like to think that I show on this blog. The thought that one of the crew does nothing but drive the vehicle while all the medical work is done by the other is wrong, yet one I'm often met with.

So, what is my job title? It's 'EMT', or 'Emergency Medical Technician', which makes me sound like I fix ambulances or mend the medical machines that go 'beep'. When I deal with the media I call myself an EMT and they ask what that means, 'Is it the same as paramedic?' they ask, to which I reply that it is – except that Paramedics have a few more drugs and sharp things that they can play with, but that we ultimately do the same job.

I'm an EMT-3, or maybe an EMT-4 (I'm not sure, the difference is negligible), but there are EMT-2 ('probationers' who can't work alone or with another EMT-2) and EMT-1 (who have a lot less training and only go to the most minor of calls – which almost never turn out to be anything serious).

Then there are ECAs – Emergency Care Assistants, that have such a poorly defined role I don't think that even they know what they are supposed to do.

My role – EMT, Emergency Medical Technician, is such a poor term I find myself having to explain it all the time. It's like calling nurses 'Pill Dispensing Technicians', the police 'Handcuffing and Paperwork Technicians' or someone who works on a film set making sure that the audio is right a 'Sound Technician'.

This is why people end up still calling me an 'Ambulance Driver', because more people have an idea what that means than EMT.

Let's face it, if this blog were described as an 'EMT blog' how many people would know how to search for it?

And this is why, when I turn up at a patient's house and the worried relatives turn around and look at me they say, “It's all right now, everything will be fine, the ambulance driver is here”.


For the last two days I have been avoiding blogging, email, twitter, going out, or entertaining friends; in fact anything that could even slightly be construed as 'work' (while though I enjoy all those things, it can wear you down a bit). My calendar has, for some time, had the past three days marked out as 'Get my feet back under me' because it is the first time in months I've had a few days to myself where I can get over the busiest part of my rota, conferences, PR, visiting friends and catching up on stuff like laundry and re-centre myself.

Three days where I did little other than watch TV, play 'Oblivion' (where I am now a master assassin), eat take-aways, and read a little. It's been absolutely lovely – but now it's back to work, including setting up my new project, which promises to have me even more preachy than normal. And of course, spending twelve hours at work staffing an ambulance.

(This is to say that, if I owe you an email or twitter, you'll be getting it in a day or two)

22 thoughts on “Who Am I?”

  1. It is only a litle thing but it niggles me just the same, it's when motor insurance companies ask,”are you ambulance controller, crew or driver?”


  2. the medical machines that go 'beep'.Don't you mean the machine that goes ping.

    When I am tired or cranky, which never happens, I will tell someone who wants to give report to the ambulance driver that my partner is driving. My partner will then ask them why they are telling him, he won't be taking care of the patient. šŸ˜‰

  3. I fully understand the frustration about the references to you as an ambulance driver.Many moons ago, while working for Surrey Ambulance, I recall off duty bodies milling about in Boots the chemist trying to raise money for a lifepak 5 or an I & I kit for our motors. The service would pay for the training, but not the kit. We were breaking away from the old 'swoop and scoop' model to 'stay and stabilise'.

    The biggest insult I recall was during an industrial dispute in the mid to late 80's. A prominent Tory minister said something along the lines that ambulance crews were just “van drivers”. Good. If he suffers from an MI, do not call 999, ring Pickfords, or DHL instead, the b#####d.

    Sorry Tom, Did'nt mean to bring the blog into disrepute.

  4. Its okay to take a break from Twitter, blogging, email, facebook etc etc because it is hard to be connected every day 24/7 365 days a year. I have been noticing myself lately that I could just go out to the Rocky Mountains where I don't have reliable cell service so I can have some peace and quiet! Hope you had a good 'break'!It is still sad that people still call EMTs Ambulance Drivers when there is so much more that you do. I would rather have a EMT come to me than a Ambulance Driver..

  5. its always been ambulance man for me ,as in fireman, police man,..everything man … God i'm Sexist!

  6. I wondered where my favourite ambulance driver, blogger, paramedic, EMT had got to! I fully understand my dear, I do the same, every so often ignore everything & relax & sort myself out. I hope you are feeling refreshed & revitalised, & I am very glad you aren't dead in a ditch. I was starting to worry! But that's just me, I know you can look after yourself. Just. šŸ˜‰

  7. After Oblivion, check out Fallout3. It's the same sandboxy engine, but a little deeper and darker and more flavourful game.

  8. Well i started off as a Driver attendant then moved onto an Ambulanceman. We fought for extra training and professionalism then came the Paramedic and all the EMT s. Now some Services are moving backwards to the old, old days to Drivers. All in the name of progress or a money saving scam.What ever, its against the road traffic act to work a rostered 12hour day at driving.

    But its like Mike Obrien the New Ambulance Minister saying Ambulance Trust are meeting the new ORCON standard . funny i thought ORCON the clock stopped when a fully equipt Ambulance arrived on scene, or is it me and ive been asleep and missed the new ORCON. Please some one say yes because i hate to be wrong

  9. Don't worry, Tom, the Americans know what you do. (Of course, we'll also expect you to be able to drive a hook-and-ladder truck and put out 3-alarm fire…)

  10. Yeah! Damn you for mentioning the Tories – this blog was perfect until that crept in…(Isn't that minister also the 'right shape' for a massive heart attack?)

  11. Oh, I *adore* Fallout 3 on my PS3, haven't played it for a bit because the bloody thing keeps crashing my machine.

  12. Oh we make it – as the time for it to be counted comes around the ORCON% starts creeping upwards.I think the LAS made it dead on 75.0% this year. It was most amusing to watch the number creep up despite no real changes on the shopfloor.

    Happens every year I tell you…

  13. Thought you'd enjoy this… It was posted by Jon Jones on Facebook in the Emergency Medical Services page…My Paramedic partner when I was still an EMT-B was standing outside an ER and an RN yelled “Hey you Ambulance Drivers”. He responded by saying “What do you want Butt Wiper?”

    The RN got offended and stated “I'll have you know I am a Registered Nurse, not a Butt Wiper!”

    He replied “Well I am a Registered Paramedic not an Ambulance Driver!”

    She replied “Well you do drive an Ambulance!”

    He snapped back with ” And you wipe butts, so I figured if you were calling me by one of my Job Duties I would do the same to you!”

    She still didn't see the humor in it…I was busting a gut myself. You would think that another Medical Professional would have known better.

  14. The Hansard debate, 'House of Commons Hansard Debate,Tuesday 12 December 1989

    The House met at half-past Two o'clock'

    'The Ambulance Driver'

    As for being occasionally being disillusioned, I own and operate a private service in Norin Ireland (ihcd staff only! I might add!!), I am always disillusioned.

  15. It's often confusing to know what I am, but on one thing I can at least be clear. I am NOT a doctor.That phrase comes in handy some times. 'Well Mr. Patient, I'm pretty sure you're not having a heart attack. However, I'm not a doctor so we should take you into the hospital to get checked out.'

    Which essentially means 'I know you're having indigestion from the five spicy bean burritos and 2 liters of Dr Pepper you just consumed, but I don't dare not to transport you in case you die and I get my ass sued off.'

  16. After reading both your books last week I've got the answer to 'Who Am I 'Definately a saint to put up with all that you have to !

  17. I can totally relate to this, although I think the term “button pusher” or “clock stopper” would be more accurate sometimes. The most frequent comments I get, when turning up on the response car alone, are along the lines of: “Are you on your own? You won't be able to do it on your own….” , Or “You mean they let a girl out on her own at night?”.

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