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)