PARIMEDIC OR AIRFORCE FF - if you could only pick one which one would give you a better edge in becoming a civilian FF - my situation is i'm 27 and the age limit for AF is 28 so my time is running out - already have my emt-b - all opinions apreciated - anyone who was involved and in the hiring process any info is appreciated
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Thread: parimedic or airforce ff
07-14-2006, 01:12 AM #1
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- Jul 2006
parimedic or airforce ff
07-14-2006, 01:32 AM #2
- Join Date
- Jun 2006
Paramedic would be my choice because it seems every dept. big or small are looking for paramedics.
However if you go to the airforce than on the bigger depts. you will get prefance points with the dd214 since you have the arm forces back ground. How ever not all depts. use the dd214 and if they only have openings for medic than the armforce background wont help.
The trend across the contry- FF/ Medics.
Get you medic lic.
Good luck hard choice!
07-14-2006, 08:16 AM #3
- Join Date
- Feb 2006
- Gap, PA
Paramedic IN theAirforce
gambit1899 I don't know your background or your intrests but the Air Force has a job here is the info right off the airforce.com web-site. You can train to become a paramedic in the Air Force. It is I believe a Special Ops divison of the Air Force. I was not in the Air Force but for more infor go to the link following the paragraph. I would say having your paramedic definetly opens more oppurtunities but being in the Air Force during time of Crisis and being in a Special Ops unit definitely also opens doors. Good Luck on what ever route you take.
When an injured soldier is down, the Pararescue Apprentice must penetrate hostile areas to rescue and recover the survivor. Specializing in Air Force and Special Operations Combat Search and Rescue/Personnel Recovery, Pararescuemen provide specialized aerospace rescue and recovery support for NASAís Space Shuttle flights. This career field is restricted to males. Pararescuemen are certified scuba divers and skilled in surface water operations Ė both scuba and amphibious. They are trained Combat Medics and certified Emergency Medical Technician Paramedics (EMT-P). As a Pararescue Apprentice, you will also learn to perform emergency medical procedures in the field to correct life-threatening conditions.
07-14-2006, 11:21 AM #4
- Join Date
- Nov 2005
I would encourage you to do what your heart tells you. There is a great sense of honor to serve your country and I know that fire departments place high value in military experience.
If your heart is not in becomming a paramedic for the love of the work, DON'T DO IT. If, on the other hand, you have a passion for being a paramedic this too would help you land a job as a firefighter.
Whatever you do, make certain it's for the right reasons.
These articles might help with your decision.
Candidates who have served our country in the Armed Forces have a huge advantage over those who have not. It is generally believed that while you may not have as many certificates and fire science units as the other candidates (you were busy serving our country), you offer much more.
Experience shows that candidates with military experience usually possess the following attributes:
They are very mature.
They understand the need to get along with others.
They understand commitment.
They are usually physically fit.
They demonstrate respect for authority.
They understand the chain of command.
They are used to working in a structured environment.
They understand doing something right the first time.
They are used to working unsupervised.
They understand doing a job or task is a reflection of themselves.
They understand the importance of cleaning up after themselves.
If you are still in the military and are interested in a career in the fire service, it is important that you start making provisions NOW. Start taking online fire science courses.
If possible, put yourself in a position to get fire service-related training such as Medic or Corpsman. Hazardous Materials and firefighter training will also be beneficial. Lastly, work on general education courses so you can earn your Associates degree.
Do not be intimidated by all of the candidates who have every certification under the sun. They were able to obtain these as full time students while you were busy fulfilling your obligation to the American people.
A candidate who is an EMT, possesses related experience as a reserve or volunteer firefighter and is active taking fire science courses is usually at the top of his or her game. Get your qualifications, learn how to take a fire department interview and earn your badge.
What to Expect From Paramedic School
Tom Rollins, a graduate of the Daniel Freeman UCLA Paramedic program, wrote the following article. Rollins has agreed to share his experiences with future firefighters, so that they may make an informed decision when deciding to go to paramedic school.
The decision to go to Paramedic School is one that should not be taken lightly. It will be one of the most challenging periods of your life, and to jump into it without serious thought, preparation and planning could spell disaster to your goal of becoming a firefighter. With that said, it can also be one of the most rewarding periods of your career in the fire service.
I thought I was ready for paramedic school when I applied a few years back. I was working as a reserve firefighter in a very busy part of Los Angeles County and ran multiple 911 calls every shift. I had already attained an A.S. Degree in Fire Science at a local college, put myself through a fire academy, and was working one 24-hour shift a week as the fourth person on a very busy engine company.
The final straw was when I spent two nights in line to get a job application for a local fire department. The first night of the line up, a battalion chief walked the entire line with a handful of applications, handing them out to anyone who could show him a paramedic card. The rest of us stood in line another 30 hours. By the time I got to the front of the line, they had run out of applications. Instead of taking tests with 2000 of my closest friends, I told myself that this was going to be the last time I slept on a sidewalk just to see the job go to a paramedic. I was convinced that the next natural progression to becoming a firefighter was attending paramedic school.
I was overly confident in my abilities as a student because I had sailed through the courses toward my college degree with very little effort. In addition, EMT classes were a breeze for me. I had completed some upper division college classes at the state university level in Biology and Pre-Dentistry (I had aspirations of becoming a dentist before I realized my true calling was in the fire service). I was actively instructing first aid and CPR classes for about eight years prior to applying. Little did I know what lay in store for me. I came to find out that my story was quite typical of my future classmates as well.
This brings up a good point. Are you going to paramedic school just to be able to check a box on your job application? Or are you going because you have a real desire to learn more about pre-hospital care? I saw many ďbox checkersĒ fail out of the program because the effort it took far exceeded the desire to have a ďPĒ nailed onto the end of their EMT card. If you are hired as a firefighter/paramedic, you will be expected to work as a medic probably for quite some time. If you donít like being a medic to begin with, itís bound to show. You are going to be a very unhappy person who is being scrutinized on every call. Itís hard enough to be a rookie firefighter without the pressure of being a paramedic at the same time. So give some serious thought about jumping into paramedic school if youíre not ready or not really willing.
To get into a paramedic school you have to meet some basic requirements. Since they vary greatly from school to school and state to state, I wonít go into them here. After these requirements are met, a typical program will require you to take a basic EMT-1 level test. This is the first weeding out process you will encounter. My school had a minimum acceptance level of 85% to go on in the process. After that you are invited to take basic math, reading, writing, and comprehension tests. The third step is an oral interview similar to a fire department oral board, where they ask you a few situational questions and your reasons for wanting to become a paramedic.
If you are accepted, you go in for an orientation and receive your books. I suggest bringing a large backpack and parking as close to the front door as possible. You will most likely be assigned some study material before the first day of class. The first morning you walk in, expect a quiz. The instructors are testing your ability to follow directions. If you donít score well on your first quiz after having weeks to prepare, the instructors will have a nice one-sided conversation with you in which you do most of the listening. ďHow are you going to keep up throughout the program with only hours of study time instead of weeks, and score above 80% on every quiz?Ē
On the first day of instruction a doctor spoke to our class and told us that he demanded excellence in us. We were going to learn at a pace that was similar to a first year medical student, and would be expected to perform at that level as well. If anyone didnít think that they could hack it, he invited them to quietly leave at the end of his address, no questions asked, and receive a full refund of their tuition. He said that for the rest of our lives (yes thatís right, the rest of our lives) we would remember paramedic school and what we had to endure to graduate. And I can assure you, truer words were never spoken. You will always remember your time spent in medic school.
Itís not that the subject matter is all that hard; if given two years to prepare and study, Iím sure that most people could graduate. The problem is that many programs teach the course in six months. Talk about putting a ten-pound chicken in a five-pound bag! So as you can probably see, medic school is all about mastering a vast amount of information in a short amount of time.
A paramedic program is typically broken up into three phases: didactic (classroom), clinical, and field internship phase. I was tested every day with written quizzes or skill stations. The minimum passing level in my program was 80%. No grading curves, no excuses, no missing classes, and no sleep. OK, Iím joking. I was able to sleep 1 to 3 hours on most nights during the classroom phase.
The following suggestions will help you prepare for and get the most out of each phase of school. Through planning and preparation you can increase your chances of graduating and getting your paramedic license.
Before even applying to paramedic school, I suggest you take a semester course of Anatomy & Physiology (lecture and lab) at a local community college. In fact, many programs are starting to include this as a prerequisite. This is a good foundation class and you should work hard in it. Keep in mind that most paramedic schools demand at least 80% to pass; you should be in the upper 90% in every pre-paramedic course you take.
Next is a basic EKG (Electrocardiogram) course. You donít need to master 12 lead EKGís yet, but it wouldnít hurt. Basic EKG courses are taught in 3 days or less. Know every cardiac rhythm taught to you and know it well. Be able to read a rhythm strip at a glance, not with five minutes of debate with calipers in one hand and flash cards in the other. Your field internship instructors will expect you to know this cold.
A course in medical terminology, ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support), PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support) and any other course that you can think of that will expose you to pre-hospital medical training are all feathers in your cap to help you get into paramedic school and succeed. If your basic math skills arenít what they should be, make sure you do whatever you must to get them there. Pharmacology is all about fractions, decimals, and conversions factors. Study up on your metric system, paying particular attention to volume and mass measurements like milligrams and cubic centimeters.
Many programs are now offering a paramedic prep course to help students be successful. All these courses count when it comes to admission time. Many people apply to paramedic school, and the competition to get in is growing every day. If you can show that you are better prepared than the next person, chances are you will get the slot and not end up on the ever-growing waiting list. The school wants you to succeed.
Another good way to prepare for a paramedic program that is often overlooked is to become the best EMT-1 you can be. Let the paramedics that you work with know you want to prepare yourself for paramedic school. I bet they will let you do some patient assessments and run through some patient simulations. I spoke to a paramedic program instructor who said patient assessment skills are severely lacking in his new students. Your field internship will go much more smoothly if you have actually done a few patient assessments and not merely acted like an IV pole on all of your 911 calls. The key is to get in there and get the experience.
Some fire departments insist that their rookies do ALL the primary assessments prior to the paramedics taking over with the advanced stuff, so you might as well get your hands dirty. When the medics are doing something you donít understand, ask them after the call why they chose that certain treatment. Get to such a level of competence that you can predict what medication is going to be admistered and why. You will be doing the same thing in the near future, so pay attention.
A huge leg up in preparing for paramedic school is knowing your drugs. There can be over 100 pre-hospital drugs to learn, and most of it is just rote memorization. You donít have to know what the drug does to memorize its dosage, indications, and contraindications. By knowing this prior to the first day of class, you will buy yourself some much needed time to study other subjects (or sleep) while everyone else is struggling with pharmacology. Visit any paramedic school and they will gladly sell you the most current pharmacology handbook.
You can also use this visit as important face time. Speak with an instructor or sit in on a lecture if you can. Talk with some of the zombie-like students and ask them how you could be better prepared for your class. When it comes time to take the oral interview, you may see a familiar face on the other side of the table.
Another way to get experience is to volunteer for some of the simulation stations at the school to which you are applying. Often the school is looking for mock patients for the current class. This will give you an opportunity to see how the students are tested and what constitutes a pass or fail in a skills station. You would be surprised how often the program needs volunteers. And again, this is more face time for you to talk with the instructors and get information that other applicants will not have. The competition for that spot in the next class is high; all the above things will hopefully tilt the odds in your favor.
When you do get that acceptance letter you need to prepare both mentally and financially. In my paramedic class we lost right around 40% of the students by graduation. A lot of these students were trying to work a job while in the program. If at all possible, do not try to work while in paramedic school if you are in a full-time, six to eight month program.
The didactic period will last from 9 to 16 weeks depending on the school you attend. This is usually a Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule. But that is just class time. Next you have to drive home and eat and then study. You must explain to your family and friends that you are unavailable to do anything for the next 9 to 16 weeks. No nights or weekends off; these will be spent studying. All free time will be spent studying material, working on your assigned project, or preparing for the next test. All of your loved ones will have to excuse you from any other responsibilities during this time. If you fill your plate with anything other than paramedic school, you will most likely fail. Class failure rates in the 30% to 40% range are not uncommon.
The next step in the program is called the clinical phase, during which you will spend about 180 hours in a busy hospital emergency room. A lot of this time will be spent starting IVís and generally angering your patients in the process. You will also get the chance to practice your patient assessment skills. Do as many assessments as you can. If you donít show any aptitude, the nurses will be more than happy to forget about you and move on to someone who is more interested in becoming a better paramedic intern.
Some people use the clinical phase to coast and relax before going out to the field internship. Donít become one of these people. When a paramedic comes in with a patient, listen to how he or she gives report. Ask the medics what drugs were administered in the field and why they gave them. Listen to incoming 911 calls if you are in a base station hospital, and ask the nurses for pointers on how to talk on the radio. When a patient needs to be intubated, make sure you volunteer for it. Sometimes the doctors forget that this is in your scope of practice and will do it themselves, but they might let you do it if you speak up. I got to do a number of intubations this way. When a trauma or full arrest patient comes in, make sure youíre not off doing something else less important. Get in there and practice your mega code skills and listen to how others run the code. Take notes as soon as possible after the code and write down everything you didnít understand or were confused about. Go over the code with the nurse and ask questions.
The field internship is the 3rd and probably most challenging portion of your schooling. You will be riding out with a busy paramedic unit for at least 20 Ė 25 shifts of 24 hours in length. Many paramedic programs have a difficult time placing students because the paramedic preceptors are taking you on as a favor to the school and/or program in general. Keep in mind that your preceptors get no extra pay for accepting you into their lives, and they are doing you a favor! All they get out of the deal is more paperwork, more hassle, and more headaches. In return they get to mentor new paramedics, and this is why they really do it. If you are lucky enough to be able to do your internship at a municipal fire department where you will be working with highly experienced and knowledgeable paramedics, the whole crew is taking you under their collective wing. Treat this opportunity as you would a rookie firefighter position, because you may be one at this department if everything goes well.
I highly advise trying to find your own internship before you start paramedic school. This way you can get a good internship in a busy fire station and get the most out of your time. Itís better to be graded on ten calls per shift than two. Imagine the upper hand you would have on an oral board if you were a paramedic intern at that department. Need I say more?
No paramedic internship goes perfectly. Your preceptors donít expect perfection on your first shift except in one area - pharmacology. You may have remembered that I mentioned this at the beginning of the chapter. In your first shift it is common for the preceptors to question you on drug dosages, indications and contraindications to get a feel for how much you have prepared yourself for the field internship. If you canít rattle off all your dosages like a 4th grader recites the alphabet, a whole new can of worms may be opened up, and they will start questioning everything you learned. Not a good way to make that first impression. Know your drugs, know your drugs, know your drugsÖthere, I said it three times.
Keep a positive attitude at all times when you are in your field internship. When you mess up a call, and you will, learn from your mistakes and move on. Visualize your next call going perfectly. When your preceptors tell you to change or add something to your patient assessments, do so immediately. Never argue with your preceptors or disagree with them in the middle of a call. There will be plenty of time to discuss the run on the way back to the station. During your internship you should never tell your preceptors how you will deal with patients in the future; just keep your comments to yourself and try to learn as much as possible in your 20 shifts.
The assessment form that your preceptors fill out every shift has a section in it that grades your ability to take instruction and criticism. You will be amazed at what seems like a stupid idea on shift number 5 makes perfect sense on shift 18. A sure way to fail is to argue, disagree, or not follow instructions. The valedictorian of my class failed his field internship because of his inability to take instruction.
Make sure the rig you ride on is the cleanest, most well-stocked rig in the city. When the next shift comes in and checks out the rig, everything should be fully stocked and in its place. The scope is clean and shining with a new roll of printer paper. The EKG patches are overflowing out of the pocket and the leads are wiped clean. The drug cabinet has no expired drugs lying around in the dark hidden corners. (A nasty little trick preceptors like to do is hide an expired drug in the bottom of the meds box.) The drug box is scrubbed to a shine and all the brass on the clasps is polished.
When you come back from a call, restock any item that was used on the patient. Never let the scope batteries run low, or an audible alarm will sound off telling everyone on the next call that you are slacking. Empty out a compartment and wipe it clean, throw out any trash, and put everything back in its proper place. Make sure you donít leave any oxygen bottles empty. If you find any medical equipment that you donít understand and canít give a drill on with ten minutes notice, ask your preceptors.
When you have nothing to do, your nose is in the books. Every firefighter who sees that rig will know a paramedic trainee is on it because it will be shining when it comes down the street, and every paramedic who works on the rig will not have to lift a finger when it comes to restocking it. If you work hard at everything you do in your 20 or so shifts, you are showing everyone how much you want to be there and do well. A good trainee acts a lot like a good firefighter rookie.
Last edited by BCLepore; 07-14-2006 at 11:23 AM.
07-16-2006, 02:09 PM #5
- Join Date
- Nov 2005
I agree with all of the points above. Follow your heart by all means. Let me tell you what I know about the AF:
If you join the AF as a firefighter you WILL get certifications, all of them IFSAC. In a 4 year enlistment you can expect to get FF I, II, D/O everything, ARFF, Haz-Mat Tech (and I/C), Officer, Inspector, Instructor I (and better if you strive), EMT, confined space rescue tech, .... That will place you certified above most everyone off the street.
You will also learn to accept and give orders (good discipline), you will get command experience because you will most likely serve as a crew chief towrds the end of your enlistment. You will learn to work in a diverse work environment where race and gender play no roles because everyone is expected to do their job. You will have the opportunity to see places where you could have only dreamed of going, giving you respect for different cultures and different people.
You may be afforded the chance to go to medic school while active duty. You will have the opportunity to get an associates degree in fire science, and get the GI Bill to cover college (and medic school) when you get out, all for free or for pennies on the dollar!
You will get veterans preference in most hiring cycles, and you will get other tangible bennies like lwo cost home loans, etc. All in all, not a bad deal for 4 years of your time.
Pararescue school IS another option, except for getting fire certs. Remember though, PJ school is one of the most demanding schools in the military and the drop rate is extremely high! And if you do drop from PJ school there is no guarantee what career the AF will choose for you (SP used to be the norm).
I am by no means a recruiter or anything! I am just happy what my time in the AF did for me. I do not regret it for a minute; I truthfully say I would not be an A/C today if it were not for the AF experience.
Good Luck in your decisions
07-16-2006, 04:51 PM #6
- Join Date
- Jul 2006
Hey bro, I'm not sure what all has been said... but from what I've heard... the medic cert in the military isnt the same as the civil service cert....( so odds are, you'll have to take that civil service/NREMT test again after the service anyway) I believe the fire job is your best bet... you've got a chance to do what you want while in the service.
I would talk more with your recruiter about your plans after the military rather than assume anything.... I would also stop by your local USMC recruiter's office and ask him about airfield rescue... basically the same but you'll get a chance to do firefighting work and also get to run around and play doctor as well.
Wish you the best in your military career and everything to follows.
07-16-2006, 06:40 PM #7
- Join Date
- Nov 2005
I kind of agree. USMC firefighters go to the same academy as the AF folks. But from what I've seen they mostly cover the airfireld while civilians provide for structural and EMS calls. And I also have seen far fewer Marines get to the advanced courses the way the AF folks do (the AF runs ALL the firefighting schools). Also, USMC folks are quite likely to be riflemen first, firefighters second...meaning they will be first to hit the trenches.
My AF experience showed me that the AF folks usually stayed behind the lines, had a better (more comfortable) experience, ate better, and generally were treated better.
By all means, go talk the recruiters. And if you decide the military (one branch or another), get everything in writing. Case in point, a Navy recruiter might tell you everyone on ship is a firefighter: Half truth because yes everyone fights like hell to save the ship, but not true because only a very select few (usually folks with rank and sea time) are actually sent to the DOD fire academy.
And the last I heard, certain schools like AF PJ and Navy Corpsman (Independent Duty) could try to test out of paramedic and sometimes even physician assistant, but it has been a while and I could be very wrong.
07-17-2006, 12:13 AM #8
- Join Date
- Jul 2006
This is correct, EVERY Marine is a riflemen, first and foremost.
In all reality, the only time you may ever pick up that rifle is if you ever happen to volunteer to go on patrol. Heck, I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to go anywhere near Iraq, etc., without knowing the ins and outs and ups and downs of a rifle for my own protection.
As for the Airfield crash&rescue, it's not purely firefighting. If I remember correctly, I believe it's mostly a 2 or 3 part program ... medical care, firefighting and landing operations. I believe the same age limit still applies....or may be extended by a year, not sure.
Now at this point, you're probably thinking that airforce job looks pretty good ... maybe a little less stress ... probably so.
I'll tell you one thing though, the Marine Corps is just the branch you need give you a push to the top in life. Not just this firefighting thing, which may or may not be your final career in life. Corporate America and others look upon and study, specifically, the Marine Corps and their core values to better their team work, accountability, commitment ... starting to sound like those TV ads?
Montel Williams, Ted Williams, Ronald Lee Ermey, Drew Carey, John Glenn,
Frederick Smith (founder of FedEx) and more.... all got what they needed in the Marine Corps.
They don't promise you a rose garden ... and if you walk in that USMC recruiter's office right now and ask for a signing bonus, they'll probably laugh in your face.
Walk in there, take a handful of his shinny & colorful handouts ... listen to what the man has to say and I guarantee you, after 5 minutes ... you'll know whether it's for you or not.
But don't try to worry TOO much about which branch/job is best... just relax a little. You, your family & loved ones should be proud that you're willing to serve your country.
07-20-2006, 10:07 PM #9
All of that aside.
PJs are a special operations AFSC. Although they are primarily rescue specialists (and damn fine medics) they go where people get killed (sometimes when no one else even knows its happening). They also get many military schools earlier in their careers than most others.
Last edited by DonSmithnotTMD; 07-20-2006 at 06:18 PM. Reason: spelling like usualI am a highly trained professional and can find my :: expletive deleted:: with either hand in various light conditions.
07-21-2006, 12:27 AM #10
- Join Date
- Jul 2006
In any event, make sure you get that recruiter to guarantee you a job, otherwise you'll get f'ed...though for the most part, everyone usually gets tossed around where needed. Make sure you understand anything and everything BEFORE you sign!
Last edited by FDNYHopefulBop; 07-21-2006 at 01:10 AM.
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