Chapter 1: Understanding the work

The work day

The paramedic says
Nick shares when his wife accompanied him for a ride along. (3:22)Video transcript

Each shift paramedics may face:


They don’t know when the next call is going to come in, who they’ll be treating, the nature of the medical situation, or the outcome of the call.


The potential for danger is ever-present when entering unknown situations and environments.   


They may witness disturbing scenes and multiple deaths in a day – ranging from peaceful to violent. 

Work dynamics

A paramedic’s “work family” comes with its own distinct strengths, challenges and periodic dysfunction. 

In addition to providing medical care and transport, paramedics must often:

  • Restrain and soothe the behaviours and emotions of others.

  • Notify someone that a family member has died.

  • Shoulder the misdirected anger or disrespect of someone in distress.

  • Overextend themselves to provide care.

  • Deal with their efforts going unacknowledged by patients, families, and colleagues.

  • Attend calls that stir up personal memories and emotions they may struggle to manage.

  • Wait for extended periods of time with a patient (e.g., in the emergency department).

  • Navigate complicated work politics.