That's a really good question I get asked from time to time. Sometimes an answer shouts right out of me. But actually, it is not a question that easy to answer.
Let's start out with an ego-pumping sentence.
"You are a paramedic, you must have a serve reputation in society."
Normally, I would answer: "Yes, that's true. Everybody likes paramedics, just like firemen". Be prepared, now the unaltered truth that comes along with my response.
No, not everybody likes paramedics. Of course, we normally arrive in situations where the "normal" human is somehow helpless or has other problems. But there is even a deeper form of not-liking. "You can't park in my driveway!!!!!", "Do you really have to block the road now?! I need to get to my appointments!!!".
Sadly, more and more paramedics in Europe get attacked by patients and relatives. Heck, in Germany the implemented a "panic"-Button inside the Vehicles to lock the doors from the patients-room because they get more and more attacked while working.
I had a colleague, who got attacked by a patient with a large iron tube. He didn't catch them, because they locked him in our vehicle. But what did he do? Of course, take our fire extinguisher and spray the inside of the car. Inclusive the fans of the ventilation. Sure, nothing happened to my colleagues but the car was heavily damaged. We don't have that much "spare" cars here in Austria that we can just go and grab the next one, especially after a shocking experience.
I am sorry, it seems like it's going to be a small ranting post again.
And then there is the fire brigade comparison.
"If I call the firefighters they are here in minutes, and they are unpaid. Why did it take you 30 minutes to arrive? You are paid professionals!"
Sidenote: In Austria, the firefighters are almost everywhere voluntary. They are normally paid with a crate of beer. (Note to me: another post idea :)).
The most obvious thing to say would be: "No, I am not a paid professional, nor is my co-driver you ... . Your house burning down is obviously a more serious case than your three-day constipation!".
"No, we are both voluntary paramedics and were called to a car accident just before we could arrive at your house to help you. Where does it hurt?"
Nerves of steel (also don't giving a f* afterwards is one thing you learn pretty quick).
Back to the firefighters, no, paramedics don't have the same high reputation. I don't really understand why. Both of us are serving a service that needs to be done and is dangerous after all.
So, why am I a voluntary paramedic?
I like helping people. And sometimes it is great to see wonders happen: Children who put a smile on after you gave them our Teddybear, Women almost at the level of giving birth and you know in the next few minutes there will be a new human on earth (even though I never brought a child to earth myself, luckily we were always fast enough to arrive at the hospital before we saw the head).
And there is the educational side, I like anatomy and the background of how a human being is working. Blood, broken hands heart attacks, strokes, that's nothing that scares me but interests me (I know that might sound strange, sorry).
Also, as I'm almost only driving in the nights, I can set new speed records at a given destination (just joking).
There are probably a thousand more reasons, but they just don't come into my mind now. Maybe on another day.