EMS Couples

The theme of this week's NSR is about relationships EMS providers have with those who are either other types of healthcare workers, family, friends, etc. I've sort of written a post about it before when I wrote a letter to my Favorite ER Nurse. I thought about what I was going to write for a long time, and couldn't think of anything. So, without further ado, I present you with a deviation from the topic.

I have three jobs. I get paid for two of them, but I have three jobs. I'm a private transport EMT, I'm an ER tech, and I'm a 911 EMT. At the present time in my life, I am surrounded by more EMS providers than I am anyone else. It's a blessing: EMS workers understand each other better than most, and our sick senses of humor keep me incredibly entertained. It's a curse: I'm a nineteen year old college girl; I date.

And, who do people date? Coworkers, classmates, friends, etc. When you're surrounded by a certain type of people more than a different type of people...well, put two and two together.

I've dated a lot of EMS types. I haven't been in relationships with a lot, but I've definitely dated more than my fair share. And the relationships between EMS personnel are very...interesting.

So I suppose my question is this: Why do people who understand one another so well do so terribly as a couple?

I have theories. Are you surprised?

There are good things. There are lots of good things, actually, but here are my top two.

If I'm dating an EMT, he's going to understand when I get called in for an extra shift. It's normal, it happens, and it's my duty to go in if I can. Dates be damned, I've got lives to save.

EMTs understand my feelings (for the most part) about certain things. If I come back from a tough call, he's not going to question why I'm so upset or why it bothers me so much. When I tell other friends, I have to explain things in detail before I can get to the "why I'm so upset" part.

But why don't we work, then?

Drama. There is SO much drama, I've found, within EMS organizations. At my private job, there are probably five or six couples. Everyone knows their business, everyone knows their relationships. I don't know about you, but I don't like coming to work and hearing about what I did last night, with whom, where, etc.

Time. You see each other all the time. You have no time to yourself if you see them at work and after work. I love spending time with people I care about. But sometimes, I need to be able to just come home, take a nap, read a book, spend some time with myself. Especially since I love to write and I need to be able to sit down for some extended periods of time to think and write.

Feelings. If I come off of a tough call, and I feel bad, most times they're going to understand. But if for some reason it bothers me more than it "should," they aren't going to make me feel very good when they question said feelings. It's happened more times than I'd like to admit.

Protocol. This is especially true if you work at different stations. I come off of a call, I talk to my boyfriend, tell him about it.
"And then we backboarded him and he was complaining about his arm, so I cut his clothes off and..."
"You didn't cut them off before you put him on the board?"
"No, we were..."
"Well that was dumb. If I had been there, I would have cut them off first."
"You don't understand, you weren't there."
"I'm just saying."
"So then we did XYZ..."
"Why did you do it like that!?"
"It's protocol here."
"That's ridiculous. At my station, we do ABC."
Gah! You can't help but compare yourself and your skills to your partner, but sometimes those comparisons are better left in your own head...

I haven't made it work with a firefighter, EMT, or any other medical provider for that matter. Inevitably, it is something from our jobs that interferes with the relationship (even though there's usually more to it than that). And then you're stuck with them at work, and all you can think about is the stuff from the past. If you're lucky, you can both work past it and go back to being friends, but good GOD it's difficult.

While this has all been the case for me in the past, I have this terribly fear that an EMS provider is the only one I can ever be happy with, because I've had a worse time not being understood by "normal" people. It's this terrible cycle that I don't know what to do with at all.

What are your thoughts on the subject? Have you had a similar experience either as an EMS provider or otherwise? Advice? Words of wisdom?

Sorry that this entry is a bit scattered...very long day at two of the three jobs yesterday!

Take care out there!


Epijunky said...

Sam, excellent post.

You hit the nail on the head. Yet again.

I'm convinced that the drama you speak of is the number one killer of EMS relationships.

Lucian said...

My dad says FF/EMS relationships are not good. Thats why hes still married after 30 years to an accountant. You cant be married to someone that does the same thing you do. You need to be grounded from someone who is on the outside of all the death and destruction.

Rogue Medic said...

Well, I have been able to mess up relationships both with EMS people and with non-EMS people. So, I don't have any useful insight. Although I tend to avoid the drama women as much as possible to begin with.

Kelley Thomas said...

same as rogue medic I have messsed up relationships with people in both ems and non ems roles even before I joined into EMS... but i do understand where you are coming from and wish you the best and maybe after you get it you can throw it to me bacause I need all the help I can get in finding someone to have a relationship with.

Anonymous said...

I dated a paramedic for about a year, it ended badly, then I had a small relationship with a dialysis tech that worked for another company. It didn't work out, so my new personal policy is to not date in the medical field.

I know it sounds selfish but I don't want to have to deal with someone elses 12 hour medical shift drama. I want to say "well I got puked on today and had to clean crap off the walls, so I win, rub my feet!"

But then again, perhaps the reason why my relationships don't work out. :)

Medic 66 said...

Nit-picking over protocols?!? Sounds like you need to date an EMS worker, not a whacker!
Sorry, I know a lot of people hate that word, but I only use it in extreme cases: i.e. when people would rather argue about nit-picky protocol details than move on to bigger/more important things

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...


I'm glad to read what you wrote! I do a desk job fairly similar to accountancy, and the guy I'm going out with is about to become a paramedic - glad to hear that two people with such different jobs can still work!

Witness said...

Perhaps it also has to do with the personalities of people that are attracted to the job, or that are developed by the job.

Personally, I do not date other EMS personnel.... well, not yet.

Polar Doc said...

Do you know the divorce rate when both partners are medical students? Almost 100%!

However, if two doctors get married during residency or early into practice, the divorce rate improves (goes down) significantly.

I don't know enough to speculate on why this is. Perhaps it has something to do with job satisfaction and reaching a final career position.

Anyway, a little off subject, but thought it would add some color.

Anonymous said...

Well, from my own experience, I have been married to another paramedic for 6 years, and we also work for the same company. We get along great for a variety of reasons that you mentioned, but we also share a lot of interests that have nothing to do with EMS. I also think we work hard to avoid the pitfalls you mentioned. I can't really think of any secret or magical thing that we do or have that makes it work, I guess maybe we were just really lucky or something. I just wanted to throw in my 2 cents that EMS relationships can (although it seems rarely) work out. Here's one for the success column!

Anonymous said...

My wife of twelve years was a disptacher when we started dating. I guess I'm just used to her telling me where to go . . . .