This is always the first question anyone asks, including others in the profession, when they learn you’re in EMS. I think it basically boils down to, “But dear god WHY?”

Thanks, guys.

I have an answer. This one is going to be all about yrs truly so get moving if you’re here for the gory stuff. 

I always, always wanted to be in the sciences. As a child that meant virology, briefly in college it was pre-med (hated chemistry), then political, and finally I got a degree in biological anthropology, which it turns out I absolutely adore. I REGRET NOTHING. Seriously, though, anthropology is the study of humans and there aren’t any downsides to that in any part of life so get off my back.

During undergrad I worked at a fine wine/etc store. It was an excellent experience as the owners are badass and I worked every Thursday for the tastings. Six wines every Thursday, and so my fancy alcohol knowledge bloomed. I then realized that because of this I could basically walk into any sales rep job any time I felt like it, so I followed the money. Not uncommon for anthro majors, to be honest. Worked for a year or so with a distributor where I racked up sommelier and Cicerone (beer) credits, then moved to the far more lucrative and satisfying supplier side working for a large and well-respected craft brewery. 

The supplier position moved me to Atlanta. I like the industry in general, but here I realized that I just didn’t live and breathe this stuff. To really succeed and move up in that industry you really have to love it. Your entire identity becomes your company, and while I understand the draw, I was just not interested in dying as the “beer lady.” 

Queue an early mid-life crisis and a manic and very “O” sudden middle fingers up to the whole world and an enrollment in a joint EMT-B and EMT-A course. I had enough saved to quit my job (and if I’m completely honest, my absolute train wreck of a boss) and float myself through the few months of EMT school. 

I’m aware that I’m taking a giant pay cut. I know about the hours and the stress and the high rate of depression and burnout. I also have never wanted anything more. Depression? Pssh, dealt with that one. Burnout? I know the signs. Weird, dark sense of humor? Already there. 

I never knew that there were so many careers like this. One could conceivably do this program in high school or college. I only remember growing up that in my mind it was “doctor, lawyer, grad school.” There are so many other options. I wish I could tell high school me that and I hope people are telling current high schoolers now. 

There are also a ton of upwardly options. Many people in EMS seem to cross over departments - firefighters, EMTs/paramedics, flight medics, EMA, etc. Yeah, the pay isn’t the most impressive, but I’d rather that than have my soul slowly sucked from my body every day in sales.

Me being me I’ve decided to do ALL THE THINGS but we’ll see how it all works out once I’m in the field. I will first continue through paramedic school, which will be, say, another two or three years. 

tl;dr Hate sales so much that I’d rather scrape up brains from the street.

Olivia Romero-Reed