(Times Bulletin/Erin Cox)
By Erin Cox
Times Bulletin Correspondent
Paramedics have an entire week devoted to their profession, allowing people to show gratitude toward the services they provide for their community. National EMS Week during the month of May honors the commitment they and other EMS providers make to helping those in urgent need.
Captain Jon Jones of the Van Wert Fire Department has made this commitment as he has worked as a paramedic in Van Wert for almost 23 years.
"It's rewarding at times," Jones said. "If you save somebody, it's a nice high and you feel good about being able to help someone. At the same time, if you aren't able to help someone, you might not show it, but you feel bad."
Jones had not planned on pursuing a career as a paramedic, but when the test for firefighters came up, he took it and got hired as a full-time fireman.
"I had considered being a volunteer fireman before, which is different because you get to help out when you want to, but I hadn't thought about being a full-time fireman," Jones said.
After graduating high school, Jones instead focused on farming and spent time fixing copy machines. When he began looking for more work, he started down the path of having a career as a paramedic.
Jones went through a six-week course at the Ohio Fire Academy because in the state of Ohio, paramedics must also train as a firefighter. He then got his basic EMT before attending Lima Technical College for his certification as a paramedic.
Jones does not have a typical job with an eight-hour work day, instead his schedule consists of a 24-hour work day with two days off before working his next 24-hour shift.
"The guys come in the morning at seven and we don't leave until 7 a.m. the next day," Jones said.
With a job focused on getting to people who need emergency attention, a set schedule remains impossible as each day brings a different number of emergency runs.
"I typically start my day off by making assignments, which is part of my job as captain," Jones said. "I assign people to the different engines and the ambulance and then I make up a schedule of what I'd like to see done that day."
According to Jones, the schedule can include fixing equipment, training, cleaning the station and yearly required tasks such as testing various equipment.
"Runs are our main job, though," Jones said. "We get everything else done between any runs we have to make."
Jones considers not knowing what the day will bring as one of his favorite parts about the job. "Some days we'll only have a couple runs, while other days we'll have a whole bunch," Jones said. "Some days don't seem like work at all and I think we're pretty blessed in that aspect."
Jones also enjoys the family atmosphere of the fire station. "It really is like a second family," Jones said. "I'm with these guys all day, and it makes work fun."
Jones, however, mentioned that the unusual work schedule causes the firefighters to lose time with their own families.
"It's sometimes hard because we're missing out on time with our own kids and certain things they do," Jones said.
Another downturn of the job, according to Jones, deals with having to see some of the hardships families have to go through. "Probably the hardest thing is if something happens to children because a lot of us have children and can relate to it in some way," Jones said.
Although the job has its difficult times, Jones still enjoys his work as a paramedic.
"It's not a cookie cutter job," Jones said. "No two runs are alike so it's never boring because we never know what's going to happen when we get here in the morning."