We spent an overnight shift with the hardworking paramedics at Rural Metro Ambulance in Sioux Falls. Their day starts at 7:00pm and takes them through the night and into the morning.
Rural Metro Ambulance has three stations in Sioux Falls. The main office is at 10th and Williams. There is one station on the East side of Sioux Falls and one on the West. On every shift there are a minimum of three ambulances ready to go and sometimes there are up to five.
Paramedics work 12 hour shifts. The typical shifts are from 7:00am to 7:00pm, and 7:00pm to 7:00am. Initial training for a paramedic is approximately one year in length. Paramedics need a minimum of 72 hrs of refresher training every two years to maintain their National Registry Certification.
The Paramedics we spoke with say they never know what their next shift will bring. They say it did take some time getting used to working the overnight shift. At first they say they were tired a lot, but eventually their bodies got adjusted to the shift.
When the overnight crews first get in at 7:00pm, if they aren't called out immediately on a call, they do a lot of odds and ends. They make sure the trucks are in good working order and fully stocked with their medical supplies. They also clean around the station if they have time before a call.
The night we were with them they were called to a scene that first needed to be secured by police. The paramedics tell us this does happen a lot where police need to make sure a scene is safe before the paramedics approach. They say their nights are always different. Sometimes they are fairly quiet. Other times they say they can be filled with calls with multiple patients.
One paramedic said working the overnight shift actually works out very well with his family life. He said sleeping during the day and waking up around 3:00pm works out great so he can see his four children for several hours when they get home from school.
When we asked why they wanted to become paramedics, the overnight crews we spoke with said it was because they wanted to help people.
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