Sept. 29, 2021

Ambulance Tech Side of EMS- Rocio Calenda


This podcast episode features an interview with Rocio Calenda. We talk about the ambulance tech side of EMS and she shares her knowledge with us on how to become a paramedic. Moreover, we discussed the pros and cons in working for a private ambulance company. Rocio is passionate as a first responder and she felt like being an EMT is her calling.

Transcript

Jerry Lund
All right, welcome to Endduring the Badge, my very special guest today is Rocio, how are you doing today? 

Rocio Calenda
I'm doing really good. How about yourself? 

Jerry Lund
I'm doing much better than I was this morning. I had a long 48 hours of shift and didn't get much sleep which I'm sure you can definitely relate to, and took a couple naps and ready to go.

Rocio Calenda
That's how it is.

Jerry Lund
So tell the audience a little bit about yourself.

Rocio Calenda
A little about myself. I'm a military brat. I actually grew up in Spain. There's a naval base in Rhoda right. So I spent a lot of years there. Then we moved to San Diego, California. That was the last station that we were at and then that's where I decided to join the EMS. I have worked EMS in California in our last Festival on Tier Orlando and now I am Pinellas County

Jerry Lund
Wow let's jump there around a little bit.

Rocio Calenda
Yes California it's very very expensive for a first responder I actually started doing nursing there but then I move to Florida and I you know I figure then you know I was able to still do what I like out of it so yeah.

Jerry Lund
Yeah so you went to Alaska and you did it as a volunteer?

Rocio Calenda
Yes for a winter time because the house from I was pretty much I wanted to see if I could survive a winter in Alaska workingn EMS there and I did. It was just for a season, it was just a four or five months from November to March. Not for long but that's I left everything in California my car everything so it was just I just wanted to have that experience a lot of first bikes there as you can possibly imagine. That was like main closer we got frostbite that was pretty much it.

Jerry Lund
Oh that's that's quite an experience to just leave your stuff to go see if you could handle five months in Alaska. Did you just want to see if you can handle it physically and mentally or?

Rocio Calenda
And I wanted to see the Northern Lights too. They're so pretty so they're only out in the wintertime. In summertime because you know it's pretty much daylight so you're not able to see the Northern Lights.

Jerry Lund
Oh yeah that's that's on my bucket list have yet to see them.

Rocio Calenda
They're beautiful. They're actually very pretty. It's tough to say but I would actually I would like to do that one more time. I mean I'm not able now because back then I finish the EMT school so I didn't I mean I didn't have a job so I was able to volunteer. Plus you know, when you finish EMT you kind of need to have some experience before you get hired somewhere. So I had a I had a job a normal job in Alaska and I was you know volunteering there for the department for the fire department. It was fun I would do it again I just I cannot do it right now because I don't have the flexibility just you know to go and then come back but if I could I will do it again. It was a great experience very cold but you know you just get a lot of layers on you and stay inside most of the time and that's it.

Jerry Lund
Yeah I haven't been to Alaska yet but it's one of the places I want to visit probably incredibly beautiful both in the summer and in the winter just for the different aspects and then you and then you went to Florida did you go straight to Florida from Alaska?

Rocio Calenda
Oh no, I came back to California I went back to California and I work EMS there then realized that I was not able to make a living out of it so I started nursing school and I have family in Florida so that's why I moved here because I figured it was you know going to be easier to go to nursing school. You know like well I was living with them. But yeah for you guys very inexpensive compared to California so and we can get paid a lot better than their two so it works out here.

Jerry Lund
That's very good. In Florida like how has that changed from California to Florida? Where there's like a different in an appreciation for EMS or a different?

Rocio Calenda
Yeah completely different. You know when it comes to the appreciation of you know what we do which is by the way, that's not why I you know got into EMS, I was not looking for any type of appreciation from anyone. I just really fell called to the it so that's that's why I did it I was not looking for anyone to say oh you know the job you know hero or anything like that I was never looking for that definitely not in California. Here I feel there you know there's there's a lot of respect here in Florida for what we do and sometimes it's pretty funny when you tell I try not to tell people what I do because you know when I do they're like like like quick question like, "What is the worst thing that you've seen? I'm like, "My paycheck that's pretty much the worst you know" that's besides that I mean I don't know I don't know those people honestly some pretty bad but I'm like just doing my job I'm not really thinking you know too much what's going around me you know I'm just trying to get the job done and then you know, I mean you know it you get to a different call and you forget at the end of the day so I mean that's that's my experience you know, but it's very different. The appreciation also the call volume the experience that you get because there in California is EMS is mainly with fire so you have to be a firefighter. So pretty much is transports right? Here in Florida I have been doing 911 transports so you know real EMS and that's when I was like oh I like this I really do. So it's very different very different lifestyle very different you know cultures because of that you know you cannot compare BLS to ALS so there's I mean not that you have a lot of emergencies on ALS either right you have a taxi driver to the hospital too a lot but now we're not a taxi but okay you have to go yeah well we'll take you for your pain oh sorry like 10 days ago it's okay three of you have now but sure you know you get some emergency so it's good to do a lot of cool things actually. So I really liked it.

Jerry Lund
So as in California you didn't get to use all your skills probably very much but there in Florida and being able to take 911 calls you're opening up your your eyes to everything you're not just getting the BLS calls you're getting those calls that you're really get to use the skills that you went to school for.

Rocio Calenda
Exactly and a lot more because when you have a good partner, I'm an EMT so when I am with a good paramedic, you know they'll they'll let me I mean obviously not nothing outside of my scope of practice, like I'm not doing anything that I'm not supposed to do as an EMT, but they'll teach you things you know like how to read an EKG right or like medications how to you know how to meet me but I can do that as an EMT so you know you'll have a partner like although you're not doing those skills or teach you how to you know do more advanced skills than what you can do as an EMT even if you're not performing those skills but you learn a lot so you know and then you get to work with the fire department the police department it's it's a lot of different different calls, right? different nature you go tunnel with those with the fire the with the police department and the fire to then you go to a crime and you go get to where your police to gear right. Most of the times or you don't find anything there but you know, at least you get to wear the best and the helmet and that's you know that's that's I think it's pretty cool. But yeah, it's it's very different. Definitely EMS has grown in me a lot ever since I moved here to be honest.

Jerry Lund
So as your you've always had the drive to do service I guess to get into EMS. You really have to have the drive to help people because just like you joke, I mean, the worst thing you've seen is your paycheck and you're EMS and first responders are paid pretty terrible compared to a lot of other jobs that are probably a lot less risky. And maybe don't make as big a difference. So where did you get the drive to serve people?

Rocio Calenda
I just honestly it felt I feel called to do it. You know, I felt like like God was really going to do it. You know, I felt like I was called to do that. And honestly, I didn't really think that I have what it takes to be honest, I did not think so I got kind of like, okay, I'll try and actually the first attempt, I actually didn't make it through. And then a friend of mine that knew very well in California, she's like, "Girl, you have to go there" and I was telling her that she's having entails like, I mean she works as a tech, you know at the hospital at the emergency but she's an EMT, and I was telling her I don't think I have what it takes, but I made it through and it was really cool because they going to be my clinicals at the hospital. A lot of things were went wrong like a lot of blood tension pneumothorax like I got to see a lot and I used to think about myself that I was the type of person that will freak out seeing blood or you know any other body fluids like I was like I'm going to say if I see these I'm going to get easy whatever and that day I got to see all that you can pretty much see in a full hour shift. The day before the night before I couldn't sleep I slept two hours I brought like four Red Bulls throughout the day because I couldn't sleep I was like okay, this is it tomorrow. I know for a fact that I've made it this far. But if I get to see something I thought I was not going to be able to react how I was supposed to react as an EMT because you know when you go through your clinicals you're an EMT are pretty much done just have your I mean you're pretty much done that's it that's the end and I was like this is it. But I did a great job and nothing bothered me and I remember that I was like staring at the wall filling out the paperwork my clinicals and a nurse was like, "Are you okay?" and I was like, "I think there's something wrong with me." Like what do you have you know all day oh sorry sorry about that. That's okay all day you know everything that has happened because you know a lot of things happen that they like a lot a lot of blood like I said some sort. You know with the needle and everything like I got to see it all I had to do it all and I was just like natural. So I thought it was I was like I'm crazy there might be something wrong with me because I have not so water old and it's just like touching my back you know back then you could touch people and stuff we didn't have COVID and like congrats I'm like I look at her like, "Are you talking about crazy? you know and she's like, "You during the right field like some people get bothered by things and they have to build that tolerance but you're, I mean you have any new if you I mean it's been a rough day so I think you did a great job like right where you're supposed to be" and I was like "Oh" so that gives me a lot of confidence you know, as I started to like I said just work BLS and just pretty much drive from one hospital to the other and I was like, Oh, this is just being an EMT okay driver all those skills that I learned in school for a while but yeah, I mean um you know, it's it's one of these things like sometimes you have your intuition God however you want to call it like telling you to do something and you're not even sure that you will have what it takes. But then you make it through and you're like, wow, I wish I knew this you know, a few years ago or whatever like so yeah.

Jerry Lund
So do you want to go on farther? Do you want to go back to nursing school go to paramedic school?

Rocio Calenda
I am going okay, so actually, nowadays? I am not I got COVID like a month and a half ago I got really Yeah, I got double pneumonia. So like I'm actually working on a clinic right now to kind of sit down like you know, physically I'm not you know, able to you know, I was actually going through fire school. When that happened. I was able to get my wildland firefighter shirt at least you know I have the wild "I'm a wildland firefighter now" but I would I would have to say something that bunker gear like God bless firefighter souls because I cannot send like I really cannot send so I know now that I love EMS whenever I'm 100% you know cuz I'm still my voice is not usually like these I'm still like I'm not fully there but I want you to be a paramedic I still want to finish nursing just because I started already and I feel like you know it's a good thing to have right? But yeah my goal right now is to be paramedic and then I would like to do the bridge program eventually

Jerry Lund
Yeah

Rocio Calenda
That's that's the goal right now I was going to go through fire school and then go paramedic but I figured that firefighter is not for me.

Jerry Lund
That's that's good to know right? That's not it's not every not every job that you get interested in is the right job for you. And it's good to know it's good to know that you didn't head down that that alley and it's turned out to be something he didn't want to do and or didn't feel right to do and he wasted a bunch of time doing it because you can put your time other places and where your heart or where intuition or where God is leading you to go.

Rocio Calenda
Yeah, I just having my there's a department in my counties. That was I had fuel tenants asking me to get my fire rate. You know, telling me that I was I mean, you know, we'll get repeat for our department like you should get your fire and I feel like you know why not I really like these department they're great people I felt like I was writing there and yeah I don't see myself like wearing that bunker gear and going to a fire it's it's a lot of pressure on my body they say you get used to it eventually but I think I'm good with EMS.

Jerry Lund
There's nothing wrong with that that's a great place to be.

Rocio Calenda
Yeah

Jerry Lund
So in EMS right yours you're with your partner in an ambulance for what a 10- 12 hour shift or more and so your partner kind of makes your breaks you're right that's a long time to view something somebody that you aren't learning from or don't admire or you know you your your morals and your values are different like how do you interact with different partners?

Rocio Calenda
Um headphones, airpods there's a you know that IV bands that you put around the arm we have like the ruler one so what I do I put a like the visor here in the mirror I just like got grabbed to put my phone there got my airpods and that's it. If I don't like them that's what I do but usually you have partner and when you have seniority that you know the company that I was working for told you know I went to a fire try to hold the fire you have when you get seniority you get to beat on a shift and you kind of get to know everyone so you know you get to be with a partner that you like. Of course there's a lot of overtime mandatory shifts so like I said when I get in like someone airpods you know at the beginning of the shift like small talk like how do you want to do things you know, it's dictation whatever if I didn't know them well enough like how they work and such and yeah, I mean I'm usually even if I like my partner I need that like that's you know that's usually how I am because you know it's 12 hours are we the same personally it doesn't matter how much you like someone after so much time with someone in a small space I personally need that time you know where I'm just like in my own space like you know they're they're like they're right there but I am on my phone doing my own thing and you know what can a TV show like listening to music whatever. But that's that would be a great advice that I would have for someone like headphones airpods only from the truck because that's like that's like I believe that's the most Lost and Found item that is always at the station like always find a lot of airpods and just like hit you know because you know people just just leave them in the trucks but I will do my best you know suggestions to someone bring airpods you don't have to deal with your partner for 12 hours if you don't want to.

Jerry Lund
That takes a certain type of personality to be able to pull that off too. Do you with your ambulance service or you in an actual station or you staged in different places around the city or your area that you cover?

Rocio Calenda
So actually um currently right now right now as we are speaking I am in Miami because I am once I you know record affiliate I want to be part of like an actual EMS service with actual you know stations where you can run a call you go back because they leave in is 12 hour shifts which I don't like I will rather do 24 or 48 hour shifts. And yeah, it's 12 hour shifts and you're just bouncing around like literally bouncing around like we've had like emergency calls for like 10 miles like literally like we're like the north of the county and we sent up to an emergency call to a cqll this happens a lot to a coat like 10 miles down like okay, well if you get a rush we're not going to get there fast enough to transport like you will lose that patient again because i mean i don't know whoever's watching anyone that does not have any EMS experience what you seen the TV shows in the movies and you do CPR, and they suddenly start like speaking and they just like picked up that does not happen in real life. You now, when someone needs CPR, they're dead and if you if anything happens, you get some type of pose or whatever but if you don't do something fast enough it will crash right back even if you've transfer them full crash but right back so or they're dead by the time that was like me there's you know this happened like enough time where they did not get a pulse back no vital signs and and you know no rhythm that can be shot and it's too late you know. But he was good because you know if if there's nothing that we can do like I would much rather not have to make it to a call and in that case, it's good right?

Jerry Lund
Yeah yeah I think a lot of people don't understand that in different areas of the country that ambulances are staged in parking lots of stores or gas stations and in various different places these people in these in ambulances are basically living out of them for that several hours you know and trying to live like going to the gas station to eat or trying to eat here and there like it's it's a different type of lifestyle and you never know where you're going to be probably you're probably bounced around your service area quite often.

Rocio Calenda
Yeah honestly in Pinellas County there's no such as staking for hours there's no such as staying for like five minutes we're like we have a cold volume that we have to survive with whatever we bring you know from home and whatever we have in the EMS rooms at the hospital was like I saw that EMS rooms are made to create future patients because let's face it you know I don't know like in other places but here in Florida, the place that I have worked at EMS rooms are filled with white house castles like you know just like sliders. Pizzas, energy drinks, chips like everywhere candy it's like sometimes there's not even water. So it's like do you want me to have diabetes? Or you know like are you like trying to give me like a heart problem like what is going on here so but yeah we're really easy we're not, we don't get to but I like that some people complain about how easy it is but I guess we have because I really like you know what I do I like the fact that I'm not you know sitting around like staging somewhere or like having to get food from somewhere. Also that being said, because of the call volume we were working five days a week 12 hour shifts and it was mandatory because we're serving the county so it's like the call volume, it's higher and you still have the same EMS providers then you have you have to request people and mandate them to work more and because of that people were quitting getting other jobs so it came to a point where instead of working three or four shifts the AB rotation is like one week you work three days 12 hour shifts and then the following week you work four days we did what is called  AB rotation right but we were so packed with emergencies and short staffed that we were working five days a week and actually fire was transported to the hospitals.

Jerry Lund
That's a lot of hours in an ambulance taking call after call and trying to get your reports done and there's not not a lot of downtime to recover from calls.

Rocio Calenda
No there's no there was no time to recover. We could be at the hospital for 20 minutes and that's it after 20 minutes you have to of course if you had a quote or something that needs to be literally clean like you had to be calm then you could be there for a little bit longer but that was the expected time 20 minutes at the hospital you know just to get the patient out, get everything, ready next call.

Jerry Lund
Do you do your reports at the hospital within that 20 minutes?

Rocio Calenda
Oh paramedic this Yeah, I don't but no they did not. I usually they will get the reports done while we were going to a different call you know because I am writing so they can they can you know get the reports done in the meantime. But no, definitely not. Especially cuz they're always requesting more. I feel like there's always there's always more expectations from us. But the pay has not changed too much. Yet the gas has gone up right everything has gone up pretty much. But you know, the pay has not gone up and the expectations from us are going up as well. So you know it's it can if you don't have have the right mindset it can get very stressful and you can become burnout and that's when I said earlier like sometimes I did not like to work with some of the partners is because they were just so negative like, I mean you know it is what it is you can see it I mean I know it sounds very corny but you consider the glass half full or half empty and it's just what it is you know you can be complaining all the time because what nothing is going to change that you're here you're working right now and because just because you're complaining you're not changing anything. Right? Your partner having a bad day and that's when I say when I brought my earplugs sometimes I was just like alright, like I was just I was at a point where like I'm not gonna I'm not going to argue with anyone because I'm not getting paid for that but at the same time I'm not getting paid to hear someone complaining about what we do all day either if you don't like it get another job. Don't come to work and complain because yeah, that's the problem. 

Jerry Lund
Yeah, it's very draining to have a partner or somebody that's with you that's always constantly complaining and negative and there's a certain situations you can't change or if you're going to complain about them which we all fall into the trap of sometimes doing that but you need to figure out a way to either deal with it or figure out a way that you're going to have whoever you work for change it and I agree with you and please as please fire, EMS, military the cost of living and cost of everything is going up but the pay for first responders is almost remaining the same barely even budging and across the country its average is just terrible and it's like you're working so hard to provide a great service and then you're you're barely getting by to live and the person at McDonald's or wherever fast food you know they're making almost as much as you are if sometimes more.

Rocio Calenda
Yeah at least you know the way that I take it I enjoy what I do you know so at least you know I get paid more or less but I get to pay I get paid to do what I like and I enjoy it not everyone can say that you know let's face it. Like if like you said not everyone gets to become a first responder, not everyone gets to become a police officer a fire a firefighter, join the military people that get to join these type of careers for me is not a job for me it's a career you really have to want that you really have to like it you know and yeah we're not we might be getting paid the same that you know someone that works at McDonald's Yes, but they don't like I mean I would hope that they like what they do. I'm not sure but I know that I go to work and it's not only helping other people is honestly the adrenaline rush to one of the reasons why I don't want to become a paramedic or that I was like you know driving along I want to work for a county that is into paramedic so I can get to drive.

Jerry Lund
I got you.

Rocio Calenda
I love driving ambulance you know, you feel like I mean you feel like kind of power, get out of the way you know, like, get to a right lane. Everything is clear and then you get to go I mean, it's pretty cool, right? You know, and the adrenaline and just being like first on scene, you know, it's it's not only helping other people it's also the adrenaline right? Like we I feel like if you're not sort of an adrenaline junkie then you should not be in this field because it's not for you. So it's that aspect as well right like having that adrenaline rush you know, and you don't get that on McDonald's you know, you might get paid the same that I get paid but you don't get to drive a really heavy vehicle with flashy lights you know, and just run them through I know it might sound you know, stupid, but I really like it lengthy driving and everything pertaining to the job. I really, I really enjoyed so.

Jerry Lund
Yeah. So you have some good camaraderie with your when you have a really good partners and different. What about ERs and fire departments and police officers? Does that offer like kind of one great big family?

Rocio Calenda
Absolutely. And that's I mean, it's it's crazy because, you know, you, you get to know the different fire departments you get to know the different people. And I mean, when I started working for the county, I've had few police officers saying hey, you should get your police. You'll be a great police officer. I'm like, Oh, thank you. Not interested in that. I mean, they say Thank you, whatever
Rocio Calenda
You'll be a great police officer oh my oh thank you not interested in that I mean they say oh thank you whatever. And then like I was mentioning earlier like I have lieutenants from just one department but there were like five or six lieutenants saying "hey you forget your fire" like you'll you know "we like how you work as an EMT like how you help out you know in every call like we just like how the way that you work" and it's very rewarding right because like you you start working and it's just a job but then soon enough like they start you know to become like a family right? I don't know it's it's weird right? It's weird because you don't expect that it's like you get to you get to see the same things you get to experience the same things you know when you're on a call or whatever the situation might be and you can understand I know the first responder a lot better than anyone else because you know you know what it is like? Like you said not sleeping right? What he feels like um and just you know, like every single situation that we have to face because of the long hours the lack of sleep the lack of because I know it's you know, I know people say like yeah you when you work at a fire station, everyone sucks and that's not true if you're in a BC county you don't get to sit down for dinner that does not happen. So even if your station or station 13 for a temple even if you're a station 13 you're you're really easy on a 24 hour shift. You don't get to sit down to because when the alarm goes off, you have to go.

Jerry Lund
So yeah, there's substations that are running 21 calls a day. That's pretty crazy there right you said there are no there's no there's no real downtime you like you have to make the best of every little moment you get to eat or sleep or whatever that's that's insane to me like I don't work at a station nearly that busy but that would be it'd be fun and a lot of ways probably when I was a lot younger but as you get older might not be as fun with no sleep but it's still rewarding for sure.

Rocio Calenda
Yeah and the commodities not only with the people I work with like I was in New York is a coincidence my birthday was yesterday and I had another friend's birthday I was Few days ago here we we went on a trip to New York and I didn't realize that I was going to be there for the 20th anniversary of the Twin Tower I was there yeah I was there for the 20th anniversary of the Twin Towers so you know it did he different as a first responder because you know 412 first responders die that day it's 340 firefighters I actually got these little tabs with the here and if you can see it the he says here I got actually New York 412 343 Yeah, I got it I got the tattoo there on the same day I just just felt like it but you know I got to meet so many people from so many different departments all over the country like all over the world and it's you like in 5-10 minutes you already feel like you've known them for a really long time and you haven't even work with them you know so it's not only the people that you work with it's a I don't know it's something you know it's it's like an interview right that you feel with other first responders you start talking and just you feel that you know you feel close to them although you don't know them for very long so that's you know, that was my experience there in New York as well so it doesn't only happen while you're on the clock you know it also happens when you get to meet all the first responders anywhere else so.

Jerry Lund
Yeah that's one thing I do really love about this job and I have friends in Europe in it just like it and they're all around the United States and Canada and stuff and it's just it is that feeling that I don't it's hard to describe maybe a military maybe people will get that too but it's it's just like you said that instant bond within within moments are like our lives are a little bit different but there's a big core of our lives that you know that are exactly the same doing the same job no matter where you live in the world. You know with some similarities you always have that connection.

Rocio Calenda
Yeah, man it's like it doesn't break either because I've met you know really good people and you know still talking today It doesn't matter how you know how long if you haven't seen them used to like keep in touch and it's like, time did not happen. You know, like I have free like you said in Europe as well that to what we do there. And it's the same you know, it's a different place different equipment. And we get to exchange experiences, how it is like here how it is down there, the differences, you know the similarities, but at the end of the day, the core, like you said is the same. I wish there was some more unity when it comes to what we do, especially in EMS, because I feel like fire is really solid, the police is really solid too, as well as the military. I would say all over the world, even for sure, in the United States, at least at a country level, it is very early, but when it comes to EMS, I feel like you should be our job should be county base and not private ambulance. Because we're serving a county when someone is calling 911, we show what we're really serving the county, we're not we're not serving a hospital, you know, we're taking them to the hospital. But I feel like it should be more united, and more. You know, so because some counties are EMS space, and they have their own stations and other counties. They have, I don't want to say names of, you know, private ambulance companies, but you know, we all know them, you know, the different companies that are out there. And I don't think it's right, I don't feel like what we do should be as we're servicing a community, you know, we're not, I'm not here for profit. Again, if I was here for for profit, I will not be doing this job. Definitely not I will be doing something else with my life. Finish nursing already, you know, and me whatever if I really wanted to make money, so why would I or anyone because I know anyone that I have not met one person yet that has ever told me, "Oh, yes, I want to work for a private ambulance company." Never, no one will say Oh, yes, I don't want to have benefits, I want to work and I want to serve. A department for 20 years, and I don't want to have any benefits, you know, right? I want another I want a company to have profit of what I'm doing. No, that's that's not the purpose of what you get into em men. So unfortunately, there's not much that I can do. That's why I try not, you know, to complain, because am I going to change anything, can I go to the, to each single county and force him you know, to, to put the county basically in my cell, I cannot do that. So that's why it's like, you see that I moved around a lot. And I see that it happens a lot in the image. Unfortunately, as you You see, there were so many of people and you ask them their story their past, and they do move out to your arch. You actually get into a the usually once you find a county based EMS system, and you get into it, that's where you stay for the rest of your career. But till that happens, we're like bouncing around because it's not like firefighters, right? That you you get assigned to your station, chore department and you stay there for your whole career. If you want to talk for 20 years, 25-30, whatever you want to do, but you stay there because also wouldn't be smart if you leave at seven years. And then when you have breaking. That's not really smart to do either. So you know that I wish we because that's honestly that's the reason why I got into fire. To be honest with you because I wanted to have benefits and I wanted to have a future. I wanted to have stability. Like I don't want to be moving around. I really don't want to be in this spot right now. Where am I like thinking do I really want to go back to work for a private ambulance company? 12 hour shifts? No, I don't want you to do that. Do I want to keep working for a clinic? No, it's boring. Do I make $10 more the hour? Yes. Do I have worked four days a week? 10 hour shifts? Yes. Do I have a lot of time off where I can go to New York? And I can be Miami right now till Sunday. And I came here yesterday? Yes. Do I like it? No. I don't like what I'm doing right now. I think it's worrying. I'm not wired. I don't think anyone in EMS or in the fire service from the police department. I don't think we're wired to be in a building, you know, for 10 hours. We're not wired for that. You know, that's, that's boring. And actually it's funny because whatever is slow, like something really funny happens that I'm used to every time I have five minutes in the AM, I take a nap. So now when it's slow, I have to stand up I have to disquiet or like do something because I'm not used to it. So like I'm really close to my family. That's not professional. I know it doesn't matter. Some people do it, but I try to be professional. I know some of my co-workers just like lay down a little bit. I mean Do I need an ambulance I don't think that clinic is you know the place to do that so I was like okay so I have to like stand out because I'm not wired for that right and there's there's not much I can do there's there's nothing actually that I can do right I just move around and like I said right now the goal is try to move here to this area there's a county here close to Miami that have that has County EMS only and I would like to do my paramedic here because also you need to know people so you cannot just apply and then get the job if you're there you have to be already in the county and you have to know people so for that I would have to start my paramedic here so I can have those relationships so people can get to know me in school and I'm not a stranger when I apply because everyone when there's like there's literally like I believe their seats County-based EMS in Florida and there's a lot compared to other states because other states don't don't even have that. But yeah, when you have a lot of EMTs you know in paramedics that really want those benefits and you have that there's a lot of competition right like you miss like whoever can get it well. Okay, well you're not here you're you're you said you're in Pinellas County or far away. So Okay, next on the list, like, who do you know, you don't know anyone? Okay, well, okay, well, you're here close by b ut do you know someone? Okay, next. So it's it's still worth it? You know, it's still worth it, of course. But I really hope also, we also have to understand that fire, it's very, very old, like, How many years has fire been around like 200 years you started? Then you mean, frankly, was the first you know a little bit history about fire? That was like, back in the 1800s. EMS started in the 1900 19. I think 50 something? You believe it was the Vietnam War or something like that? I think it was like back then. Yeah, I think it started in the Vietnam War. So it's, it's pretty new. It's also that Okay, I understand people complain, but at the same time, we have to understand that for fire service to get where they're at right now, it took them 200 years. More than that, that was not like that. 100 years ago, even if you talk to retired firefighters are like 70 years old. When they were a firefighter back then. They, it had nothing to do and they say cuz I love speaking to people that are retired, or like, because they have the knowledge they have the experience when they're like 70 years old, 80 years old, and you get to talk to them. They they talk about firefighters today like you know, like, I mean, they were like very well taken care of compared to what they went through back then. And they they explained that like in order to have what the fire service has right now, we have to go through a lot. They were not protected back then. Now when a firefighter dies because they did something wrong. They did something wrong. It's not because they were not protected. Back then they died because they were not protected. It was how long it took a lot of trial and error a lot. A lot of fires in very different parts of the country for firefighters to have what they got today. So can we expect the same in the MS in 15 years? No or 60 yours? No, we cannot. We can complain if we want to but at the end of the day I'm sorry that we're living in such a new era for EMS you weren't just born now you were not born in 100 years from now on I don't know where the world is going to be then with everything going on but whatever. This is what we got now it's very neatly so it's really a baby, EMS just started. It hasn't been 100 years yet. So we cannot expect to be like up here. You know, and we cannot be complaining we can just do what we like fight and not give up. Because if everyone just goes to fire, you know, it's everyone like me that like see, I did wrong, honestly. Because I tried to fire but now I'm realizing like No, I mean, if I really want EMS, why would I do that? I am not supporting what I believe in?

Jerry Lund
Yeah, yeah, I think maybe people that are listening maybe don't understand that, like these private ambulance systems don't really have a retirement plan set up for people that they work with. If they do that's probably not as good as it could be as if you work for a county or state agency. So by that, I mean you're putting in the time, right? Your eventual goal is to retire healthy and enjoy life from a career that you're dedictated to so that's why it's very important to work for these agencies that are like that that are county-based or and things like that I think that's a huge thing for people to understand that's the it's very very limited amount of systems have those opportunities right? Police, fire, some other county and state things actually have pensions and I think that's probably that's means something a lot to you that is getting a pension at the end of the day.

Rocio
Right? Yeah, I am sorry. Yes, exactly. For people that are listening right now. Yeah, so there's a lot of private ambulance companies they do 911 transports but there they are private meaning you can get 401k which is what you put into the 401k it's what you take out of your paycheck every pay period you sit on a mountain you can set up $3-$6, whatever but you are paying for it you are actually the person that is putting into it that's what he's what a 401K is and that's actually what I believe every atleast every company that I have worked for so far offers if you become a supervisor then yes you get to have benefits in some of the not all of them but so pretty much you don't have any type of benefits because benefits is not taking money out of every paycheck inputting into an account and then reap the benefits in whenever you retire that's that's not benefits and that's something that because I don't agree with it I won't partake in on that anymore like I am not going to I will not be a part like that's what I'm saying is like people can complain as much as they want but complaining and not doing anything you're just being part of the problem. Don't worry because your anger steam they're not doing anything to solve the problem so I feel that I mean if people are okay like some people will actually like I said I have not met one person that he's okay on with working for a private ambulance company so I will take that back I would say I was going to say people that are okay with that but I have not met any person yet in my career that is okay with working for a private ambulance company so I'll take that back I think that just like Like I was saying earlier like fire a lot of fighters will have what they got it didn't happen you know out of us mostly like it just no no they have to fight many years they have to fight and fight and fight to get what they have same with the police department it's all there in apartments EMS is so new and it's like I feel like we are at a point where we can lose it all and just have hospitals where they can throw transports right or we can like I'm doing right now and a lot of people are doing to you know just just fight you know for what we like to do and go to fight for you know for working for a county-based EMS and if everyone were doing that I'm pretty sure that somehow actually here citrus county one of the counties that are I believe like 40 miles away north from where I'm at they just cook County-based EMS like it's happening just last week so it does happen it's happening we just have to confide in and how do we fight even those companies are private because let's face it they if they care for us they wouldn't be private you know they will I mean it's okay I care for me they care about them, good. But but you know I want to start with accounting but that's just what if it to what I'm doing you know I'm not trying to have rich person becoming richer because I'm not trying to pitch again I will be doing something else with my life if I wanted to become rich I would still like doing nursing, become a nurse practitioner whatever if I really wanted to, but I know that I don't want to be in a hospital so even if I became a nurse it will be to when I'm a little bit older and I think that I'm not physically you know able to be just 100% as I came you right now and I just wants to do critical care transport which is critical care transport. You know, where nurses are doing transfer which is not a whole lot. It's it's a lot more calm when it comes to the whole volume. So he has eventually I would like to whenever I see that I'm a little bit tired, man, yeah, I'll get my nursing so I can do less calls a day. But that won't be the motive. It will it won't be able to make more money. But again, when it's just leaving and doing something else. Well, I mean, that's not you know, fighting, you know, what I want? And I feel that's a community thing that we all have to fight for, like every single person in EMS. They have to fight for that. 

Jerry Lund
Yeah, what recommendation would you have for someone that is looking to get into the EMS world?

Rocio Calenda
Um, don't be? Well, I mean, if you're anything like me, don't think that you cannot do it. I would say don't be cocky either. And think you got it all. You know, some people, I can say that, I guess I have just been lucky, because I haven't had one call that really has got to me, I'm sure there will be plenty. Because I have been in  EMS for like, five years. So you know, I know there's going to be one call that will give me one day. But I have been lucky enough that I haven't had that happening. I would say that anyone that is trying to get into EMS, if you start school, like, make sure when you go to school that like I said, it's county-based EMS, I would recommend that because that's going to that's going to be the first job interview. Because those instructors most likely are part of the department that you want to apply for. So that will be the first job interview, get there early, you know, get there early, show up 15 minutes, 30 minutes early, be respectful, do whatever is required, you know, for you to do. And then it's very competitive fields super competitive. And then I mean, there's there's a lot of meat right now for EMS people, I will take that competitive out of the way because there's actually a lot of need that was competitive before, right? There's a lot of need for for EMTs. And I would say you know, ask for help, you know, because I know, a lot of people actually had have had calls that really, you know, got to them. I would say you know, try to make good friends, get along with people. It's better. Like I said, I would rather like get on my phone before having an argument with someone you know, like, try to avoid conflict, you know, because it's not going to take you anywhere at the end of the day, or for many hours. So that's what I would say and know pretty much it. Realize that people that you will encounter, you don't know them, they don't have to give to you. It's good to have empathy for not sympathy, because you don't know them. They're there to do a job. And it's frustrating when you realize that the people that are overdose two days ago it's overdose and again today, and you have to do CPR, and then you have to keep them Narcan, then you realize that you're not here to save anyone, you're just a tool. When I got into EMS, I thought that I was going to be able to help people. I realized that no, I'm here just to do my job. I'm just one more person here, right? My job is to show up and give the best care that I can give to to every person. And it's sad that you realize that the drunk person the other day is the same today and you talk to them and they didn't listen to you and they want and that's okay. That's where you realize that you don't have to have sympathy you got to have empathy in order to show up. You get to do your job and and realize that you're not going to save anyone just get to dry. Other thing, unfortunately, most of the calls are BLS. So there's not many calls as you would think. That was very frustrating. Even a 911 you get a lot of factories that started 10 days ago, and it was 3am. I legit had a dream. I thought I was gonna get fire. I had a they're called frequent fliers, right? Those people that call all the time 911 for nothing. I literally got a cold. Sorry, like I was dreaming of a cold. And it was so real. It was a frequent flyer at 3am. And I show up with an actual fire crew, to the actual patient with my actual partner to the actual house. Everything was so real. And this lady was like, Oh, I have so much pain. My back hurts. And I asked her so what is a reason for you to call 911 tonight? Oh, well, my back hurts. I'm like, Okay, well, when did the pain start? 10 days ago okay? All right. Why don't you call 911 right now at 3am Oh, I just hurt. But it's not worse. It's just hurts a lot. I mean, my team, I told the lady I'm like, "Alright lady, listen up to me. This is where we're going to do right now. We're going to help you out to bed, you're going to sleep. And at 70 you're going to go to your doctor, you're going to take an Uber to your doctor, becase guess what, we're not a taxi driver here. Alright, so next time when you're in pain, you're gonna suck it up. And you will not call 911 if you don't actually have a really, when you see that you cannot read any more than you call 911, okay?" And you might be she was like, okay, you're right. Okay. And I woke up. I was like, I'm fired. I'm tired of like okay my bed I'm off base to work night shift to my she was like 5am to 5pm to 5pm est okay I'm home I'm not fired on my day off okay all right. So yeah a lot of people they just just think that they're going to keep lining the emergency department by going through the whoo truck emergency that's what they think but that's that's going to be most of the job just driving around and then you'll get some cold calls so that you know mix outbreak.

Jerry Lund
Yeah, before I let you go ask this one last question to all my guests. What impact do you want to make in the world and actually gonna narrow this one down a little bit for you? What impact do you want to make in the first responder world in EMS world?

Rocio Calenda
Um, just just for people to know why they got into the field you know because you get to forget that easily you know, I get to forget that easily too. Right? I would say that you know what, you know in those days where you're like burnt out where you are just just burn out just tired you know remember what drove you to get into the field. Remember the good days remember remember just just just what we do is so unique you know so special is so different to any other job you know just just think of the good things you know and and and like I said earlier just just you know, just keep fighting to to change whatever you want to change your department whatever because let's face it like people need us like they need they need police officers they need firefighters they need ambulance, so like we are we they need us you know we cannot we cannot be just taking away us I don't know if you want to get rid of Samsung Galaxy it's okay you got iPhones no they need us just you know fight but also with a good attitude you know with a positive attitude you know what I mean just don't get burnout and like I said earlier like if you feel like a call has like bother you or something don't just reach out for help like don't start drinking I'm tired of seeing people like going down the path of like drinking and just like getting crazy little you know, it's really crazy things because they didn't take action right away. Like we're only humans, you know, we're not that strong. We're, we're really we think that we're like so powerful. Really, I feel that way and I know like most of us, you know, first responders, but we're not we're only humans, although we think that we're like, you know this big thing. So yeah, I would say that to like know your limits as a first responder as a person. Like let's take the tag first responder out of the equation like no understand this, I think this is big, you know, to every first responder understand that you're human. Allow yourself to allow yourself to take a day off if you need to say no to the overtime don't feel that you have to say yes to be overtime. You know, take take a breath if you need to take five minutes more after a call because you want to just sit down and drink water. Calmly do it.

Jerry Lund
So for us it's been a great pleasure having you on today and sharing your experience in EMS and I know the listeners are gonna be enlightened by what you've had to say about the EMS world and I love the passion that you have for it I can see you going on you'll definitely get your paramedic and you'll be going on even farther and not making a difference in the EMS world. I certainly appreciate that.

Rocio Calenda
Thank you very much for having me Jerry. Thank you so much. It means a lot to me. I was actually doesn't look like it but I was I did not know what I was going to talk about. I was a little bit scared. I have never done a podcast before in my life. So I hope that people you know are able to connect relate with anything of what I said because I did not prepare anything. I just like showed up and just, you know, started talking so definitely I was just trying to speak you know, from my heart and my experience. So yeah.

Jerry Lund
I think he's I think you certainly did I appreciate that.

Rocio Calenda
Thank you so much Jerry. I appreciate that.

 

Rocio Calenda

EMT

Hi, my name is Rocio. I’ve been an EMT for 4 years. I have worked in California, Alaska, Orlando and Pinellas County.
I would do this job for free. I love what I do and strive always for more and better in my career