What is the draw for so many people wanting to join public safety? Is it the television series or the movies where everyone is a hero? Is it the adrenaline junkies looking to fulfill a need? Maybe it was some sort of calling and they have the natural ability to care for people and have a general idea of doing something good for their community? Or maybe it’s as simple as they just kind of fell into it during college or some weekend retreat? Whatever the reason is, it is a good reason, and we look to our paramedics, firefighters, and police officers to provide a invaluable service to each and every one of our communities throughout the world.
However, if you are like me you only had a small understanding of what the job consisted of and there was a lot more that you didn’t know. I remember being about 15 years old when I discovered that I wanted to be a paramedic. I remember seeing that ambulance screaming down the road with their lights and sirens blaring and thinking… “Now that is the job for me!” I was one of those people that thought that I just had that natural ability to help people. 17 years later I am still an active paramedic, but I quickly realized that I was not going to be able to street corner post in an ambulance forever. All those things that I didn’t know about the job had been discovered; the long hours, the low pay, the slow opportunity for promotions, and the general toll it has on your physical and mental well-being.
Once you are a paramedic there are a couple of solid avenues that you can take. You work for a private ambulance company, join a fire department, become a flight paramedic, or increase your education and become a nurse, physician assistant, or even a doctor. But what if none of those interest you, are you stuck or is it time for a completely different career? Well I am here to tell you there is one more great opportunity and that is to be a remote paramedic.
I will tell you that I have spent my entire career on a private ambulance, and I will also tell you that I am grateful for it as I have learned so much, I have met amazing people, and changed the lives of countless individuals. But, as the years went by, I realized I was kind of lost and didn’t know what was next. I educated aspiring emergency medical technicians and paramedics and I did the whole management thing but at the end of the day I was looking for a change and a new challenge. As many of you know, becoming a firefighter is very competitive and not everyone makes it. I have no desire to be a nurse and I was definitely not smart enough to be a doctor. Then I became a remote paramedic and it has turned out to be one of the greatest decisions of my career.
So here are my 4 reasons why being a remote paramedic may be the next best career decision for you.
The ability to travel all throughout the world.
As a paramedic on the ambulance your day is never the same, however, you are typically in the same city each day, sitting on the same street corner, drinking the same Starbucks coffee. But that all changed with remote paramedicine. I could be on land in the middle of nowhere and have helicopters buzzing all around as they build a new oil rig, and then find myself the following month in the Arctic Ocean on a large vessel researching sea life with scientists, to living on a train that has skis instead of rails moving across the tundra in the winter on an exploration. Now that is something different, and I am not stuck staring at the same light post day in and day out.
Because the project is never the same, neither is the view. I have been to some of the most spectacular places that the average person will never go. I have seen animals like walrus, seals, whales, polar bears, and artic fox. Most people will never get an opportunity like this, but if they happen to they end up paying thousands of dollars for these excursions.
I have enjoyed all of the people that I have met in my career as a paramedic, however, we were all likeminded and I saw the same people each day of the week. When I got into the remote side I met amazing people from all over the world with different career paths, beliefs, cultures, ideas, and passions. I will tell you this is the best way to learn about the world and things that you had no idea about and broaden your horizons.
There is camaraderie in public safety, but there is also comradery in remote work as well, it is just different. Again, in public safety it is the comradery of likeminded people. Remote is a different comradery. Many of us spend weeks to months together at a single time and we all have the comradery for the project. When I was on the ambulance there would be the brotherhood for 24-48 hours and then we would go home. Out here, we learn to live with each other and although it has its similarities to public safety…it is different. No one person is better than the next. Everyone looks out for each other from managers, to the cooks, all the way down to the custodial staff, because this is a tough and unforgiving environment.
If you have spent any time in emergency services you know that pay is always a topic for discussion. The average emergency medical technician is paid at minimum wage to start out at and it doesn’t grow substantially as a paramedic. What if I told you that remote paramedics make up to 3 times what a private ambulance paramedic earns and you do that while seeing the world and meeting fantastic people all along the way?
Being a remote paramedic has its challenges, but I will also tell you that those challenges are outweighed by those top 4 reason. However, the pay cannot be your driving force, but if you are a person that is looking for adventure, experiences, culture, and an overall different career path, then remote medicine may be that solution. I have now been doing this for about 2 years and I have to say I don’t regret one minute of it and every time I arrive at a new project and look around I think to myself, “Now this is a job for me!”
About the Author:
Jason McLaughlin is the General Manager of SALA Remote Medics. He has been in the Emergency Medical Services Field for 17 years and has a Degree in Organizational Leadership and Emergency Management from Colorado State University.