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Mark Wintle's EMS page

NJ EMT-D patch

In May, 2003, I joined the Morris Minute Men First Aid Squad. Why? It's something I've wanted to do for a long time, but thought I didn't have the time (or the stomach) for it. I spent the Summer in a 125 hour training course and got my EMT certification in August of that year. Since then I've seen a lot. I respond to an average of 430 calls a year on the Minute Men and I've become the Assistant Captain.

I also did a three month stint at the elite University Hospital EMS in Newark, NJ. In a 12-hour shift there each ambulance answers 12-25 calls, making them the busiest ambulances in the US -- probably in the world. These are real calls too. You can count on a shooting and stabbing (or three) most nights in Newark. It's hard work in an exciting and dangerous city. It wasn't a good fit for me (it was too much since I already have a full-time day-job in computers), but if you have the chops, then UH-EMS is an amazing place to work. When you're done working a shift as a university "blue-shirt" you know you earned your pay!

A lot of people ask me about working paid versus volunteer EMS. Yes, I can say, they are very different experiences. I would average about 16 911 responses per shift in Newark, vs three at the Minute Men. So you see a lot more and therefore learn a lot more running paid. Newark runs two-person crews and The Minute Men have three or four people in the ambulance. Running calls to homes in suburbia is different then running calls in the projects with gang members and drug dealers all around you. Having a "boss" threaten you if you haven't filled out paperwork completely (there is so much paperwork) or other details really takes some of the fun out of it as well. Doing it every day instead of once a week is exhausting. It is pretty thrilling to get a big check for doing something you've been doing for free. With all that said, the types of calls aren't that different. In suburbia you still get the hairy CHF emergencies, motorcycle crashes, calls to the local jail and frequent flyers who really don't need an ambulance. The only difference in Newark was the higher percentage of assaults, sickle cell, HIV and asthma calls. If you're running on a paid service in suburbia, then you won't even see that. A lot of paid services do non-emergency transport. I've never tried that, and I'm not really interested in it. But it's a large portion of paid EMS and a way to get a check for riding an ambulance.

If you like 911 and want to do it as a job, then I'd check out Atlantic Ambulance or Jersey City EMS.

I get a lot of email from people asking for tips in taking the EMT class, and passing the exam. For this reason I've created an EMT exam tips web page with just such advice.

Interesting things about the Minute Men:

Mark Wintle in Minute Men EMT uniform
Quesitons? Email me, Mark Wintle.
Books and stuff to buy:
  • Into the Breach An intense book that tells cool EMS war stories from the front lines in Newark, NJ.
  • Ambulance Girl A terrific new book by a columnist for Gormet magazine that details her experiences of becoming an EMT in Connecticut.
  • I Am Not an Ambulance Driver. Look under books. This is a great series of cartoons about the EMS field!
  • Roberts EMS. A great catalog for EMS stuff, including nice name badges.
  • Galls equipment and apparel. The popular brand.