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EMS Week: Why EMS workers say it's a health care job like no other

Our National EMS Week coverage continues. We’re sharing more from our visit to AMR in Grand Rapids. EMS workers there say there really is no typical day on the job.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — This week is EMS Week, and we’re sharing more from our visit to American Medical Response (AMR) in Grand Rapids. EMS workers there tell 13 ON YOUR SIDE there really is no typical day on the job. Each day, they say, they have no idea what they’re about to face.

Jordan Zandee is a paramedic with AMR who said, “I think there’s a lot less public awareness of EMS and what we do. For example, even the difference between an EMT and a paramedic. Most people aren’t even really aware,” adding that, “I would say we have a pretty difficult job, as well, and we provide a pretty important public service.”

Zandee is partners with Adriana Yskes, an EMT with AMR. Partners, like schedules, remain the same for one year.

“Every day we clock in. We get our ambulance ready for the day. That means checking all of our equipment, going through all the cabinets, make sure everything’s stocked because you never know what you’re going to run into,” said Zandee.

He says EMS workers are faced with responsibility unlike others in the health care industry.

“In the hospital, if you’re working as a nurse or some other position, you usually have a doctor or someone else you can look up to, to ask questions but we kind of have to figure things out as best we can on our own.”

Zandee also said, “It is a lot of pressure,” because “we have people’s lives in our hands and we have to make important decisions that can affect the outcome of what happens to them and it can be scary sometimes.”

The job becomes even more difficult when unnecessary obstacles get in their way.

“It’s a little challenging when a vehicle in front of us stops right in the middle of the road or doesn’t pull over. Maybe their music is going or they’re just not paying attention,” said Yskes.

“Sometimes, those seconds really count depending on the patient,” said Zandee.

Yskes explained that, “By pulling over, using the right lane, and letting first responders take the left lane, it makes it a little easier for us.”

EMS Week was authorized in 1974 by President Gerald R. Ford to celebrate the important work they do in our communities offering care to people when they need it most.

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