A trend has spread through EMS that is causing a bit of a ruffling of panties in my neck of the woods. If the term ruffling of panties is upsetting to you relax, it’s accurate.

I hear a lot of “We got a late call” both in the yard and online as a reason folks dislike their shifts. Every shift seems to claim they are always held over because of a late call, that the next shift never has to hold over, it’s not fair, IT’S NOT FAIR! Then they jump up and down from foot to foot in a tantrum which causes the bunching panties mentioned earlier.

Complaining in EMS is remarkably easy. We apply anecdotal observations skewed by our own bias and apply it to everyday. Suddenly getting a call 35 minutes before the end of your shift is a late call and being sent to it is an affront to all things holy.

In response to just such a statement recently I was sucked into a common EMS Manager response that had me actually catching my words just before they left my mouth.

“Back in my day…” was how the sentence was going to start, but I was just able to catch it before I lost all credibility.

But then I stopped. It likely looked like a stroke, but the phrase was easy to say, yet lacked the true meaning I wanted to get across.

“You were closest, you got the job. You are assigned to the ambulance until 0300, not until 0230.” I went on to describe methods they could use to check the ambulance and plan their off duty chores in the 106 minutes they were on post prior to the “late call.”

I then told a war story about the call at 825, 25 minutes AFTER my sift was over and when I had been ordered by the Battalion Chief that I was not to leave my post until relieved. That the call ended up being a transport to Saint Farthest and that I didn’t return to the firehouse until close to 10 AM. They were unimpressed and still held on to the belief that they should get some wiggle room at the end of the shift to “wind down and restock.”

The film version of me delivers the speech far better than I do but the point gets across that we are on duty to answer calls for service and make bad days better. Sometimes that means we’re a little late getting home.

Sometimes we have to spend a few extra minutes doing this work that we have chosen, taking the time to do it right instead of half assing it just to race back and disappear, upset that we asked you for a little something extra. Especially when we’re paying you extra to do it.

A late call is a call that comes in AFTER your shift has ended folks, plain and simple. if you are due off duty at 0300 and dispatch gives you a code 3 call guess what? You have another chance to do something for someone who might need it. Be thankful it’s not the other way around.

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