Careers: EMT/Emergency Medical Technicians/Schooling


I hope this doesn't sound elementary, however I'm freshly enrolled now for spring 2014 for EMT and have to admit, I'm scared and nervous. What's it like? I've been in the back of an ambulance and one man changed my life helping me when I thought my life was over and I'll never forget his face or voice when I needed it most and because of him I know what I want to do with my life. I however, will be honest, I was never a booksmart kid. I have common sense, more than the average joe. When I received my college acceptance letter in the mail I was a mixture of every emotion on the planet but in the end nerves took over and I'm wondering if I'll make it through. I know I'll love the job, I know I'll love the people and the career and the chance of helping others. My questions are, is college insanely difficult and { off the wall here } how do most companies handle tattoos for EMT's?

Hi Shannon,

First and foremost there is no such thing as a bad question - only bad answers. You asked a REALLY good question actually because it centers not so much on the job itself but instead on the foundation of it. The educational processes.

The crux of your question is "Do I have the ability to succeed in EMS?"

Let me give you a little background in order to answer your question Shannon.

I was a REALLY lazy student in high school. I hated school and everything that it represented. I didn't belong to any "clicks" and basically suffered through each day hoping for it to end. I learned very little and only wanted out. I managed to graduate and then basically had no early idea what I was going to do with myself. Perhaps the military? Or auto mechanic like my father? And then it happened.

I was hit by a drunken driver and almost killed. For eight months I could not walk much less drive or do anything else fun. And I still had no direction in my life. But I knew I wanted to go to college. So I met with a guidance councellor and got some advice. "You haven't studied in months and frankly you are not a very good student. Let's enroll you in something pretty easy." And he enrolled me in EMT.

I went to the first class thinking "What am I doing here?" but kept an open mind and listened to the instructor. And I basically discovered that I was able to pass this course easily because I LOVED it. And it was my calling. I have not looked back Shannon. And now, in the twilight of my career, I help to inspire others like yourself to proceed. Because if I can do it anyone can. I was a mediocre student at best but when I found the inspiration to follow my calling it was enough to insure my success.

So how do you proceed? What are the keys to success?

1. Love it and you will succeed at it.
2. Apply the new things you are learning to things you already know. For example, the human body is sort of like a car. Just associate new things with old and they will make sense to you.
3. Lean on those who understand - form study groups and help each other. EMS is a team event and that team concept should begin in the classroom.
4. Don't be afraid to ask questions.
5. Figure out how you learn best and use it to your advantage. Some people learn by listening. Others by writing. And others by doing. Most have some combination of these that is their key. Figure yours out and use it.
6. Don't get distracted by anyone or anything. You will have people telling you that you cannot or should not. Avoid them. Their methods are selfish.
7. Finally, believe in yourself. Let noone and nothing stand in the way of the goals you have set.

College can be hard Shannon. But only if you don't take it seriously. Go into it knowing that work will be involved and you should be just fine.

As for the tats, it is art. So long, that is, as it isn't something completely inappropriate. We had a rookie who came in with a tat that said "Kill Them All and Let God Sort Them Out". He was an ex-Army Ranger and he had served in the Middle East. In that realm that tat was acceptable. In ours it wasn't. He had to keep it covered up. Only you know what kind of art you are wearing - if it is not something that would be considered offensive most agencies I know of are very accepting of it now. Many of our FF have some really nice artwork that symbolizes the sacrifice on 09/11 of the 343 from FDNY. I personally consider it art to the max.

I sincerely hope that this message brings you inspiration and hope as you move forward. When I retire out the 9-1-1 calls won't stop. Someone has to take over Shannon. Hundreds of others, like myself, have served their time and are retiring out. EMS needs you buddy. It's your turn.

Good luck. Please keep me updated on how things are going. And always remember IT IS NEVER YOUR BAD DAY!

Jim Wilson

Careers: EMT/Emergency Medical Technicians

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Jim Wilson


I can answer questions regarding training, education, and experiences as well as providing some incite into the world of Emergency Medical Services.


I have over 25 years of experience in EMS, Fire, and Air Transport.

AHA Professional Premium Professional

BS, AS, EMT-P, ACLS (and instructor), BLS (and instructor), PALS (and instructor), PPC (and instructor), BTLS (and instructor), PHTLS, and NALS. Have instructed EMT and Paramedic in Florida since 1986.

©2017 All rights reserved.