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Interview tips for Pittsburgh EMS


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Hi everyone, I'm sort of new to Pittsburgh, PA. I have four years of ambulance experience as a medic in the California Bay Area, many as an EMT before that. Pittsburgh EMS just opened their application process and I'm pretty excited to get back on a box amidst the crisis we're all in. I was just wondering if anyone on here has experience with their hiring process, what kind of testing they do, or have any good tips. And, if hired, what does the onboarding process look like?

Anyway, stay safe and healthy everyone. 

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Hey there,

I’m at Pittsburgh paramedic and I lived in California my entire life until I moved here a year ago with my wife. I moved out of the Bay Area and moved to Pittsburgh...  one of the big reasons was working for Pittsburgh EMS. 

I Work for AMR for a couple years and the Bay Area went to the Paramedic school in San Francisco. 

Have you started the process yet? Right now the process takes about 6 months.  If you are in Pittsburgh right now I would try to get a medic job in between to get familiar with PAs protocols. 

Its a longer process but I love where I work.  I’m excited to come to work and I work for the residents and visitors of a great American city.  

It’s a great place to work. There’s a lot of opportunities that we have. We do all rescue for the city. We have two heavy rescue trucks that are manned  by two paramedics 24/7/365.  We do River Rescue where we man a boat with 2 paramedic public safety divers 24/7/365. We have a motorcycle team that gives us an ALS response capability on Harleys.  We have a proven Tactical team that is embedded with Pittsburgh Police SWAT.  


The process starts with the application, which you can get in now.  There is a residence requirement so you have to live within the City of Pittsburgh by the time you get your final offer.  There is a physical agility course that you have to complete. Details are in the job description. Then is the background check and polygraph.  Yes, there is a polygraph exam done during your background check. After the poly is a psych interview with a doctor. After that is some more paperwork and then job offering and training.  

Let me know what else you need.  It’s a great place to work.  There are a lot of opportunities and we are paid really well.  

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Thanks for the response, @Richierich31, the system here sounds amazing! I was working for AMR in Sonoma and Contra Costa counties. I love the crews I worked with, but I got really burnt out by the corporate structure. I never felt like AMR had my back or opened meaningful access to opportunities or gave meaningful support. 

I'm actually in nursing school at Pitt right now in the accelerated BSN program. I had planned on getting a PHRN after graduation (end of summer, supposedly), then seeing how I could interface with Pittsburgh EMS through that. Then this pandemic came down. I feel a lot of responsibility to be out on the street taking care of people and backing up my brothers and sisters in EMS. I saw that the application portal had opened up, so I submitted one. I was hoping that my timing would get me in before the peak hit here. If it takes 6 months to get in, well, I hope the crisis won't still be happening by then, though I suppose there's only one way to find out. Regardless, it's good to get some insight on the process, and to hear about all the cool aspects of the system here. 

A follow up question, how is it out there right now? Pittsburgh doesn't seem to have been hit very bad yet, and I hope it stays that way, but that can be really hard to assess as a bystander. I've been volunteering at UPMC in Oakland, and it seems pretty dead at Presby. Are crews feeling a lot of pressure right now? Are things "normal", or even slow?

Anyway, take care, stay safe out there, always be badass.


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I worked for AMR in San Mateo County as an EMT for 2 years but while I was in medic school I was feeling the same thing you were.  I felt like I was working for a big corporation that didn’t really care so much about patients as they did about their bottom line.

Don’t give me wrong, the operation that I worked at was actually pretty awesome but I just could not see myself there for an entire career so I did a bunch of research on different third service agencies in the country. I just always wanted to work for a city or a county. Just randomly on a whim, we started doing some research about Pittsburgh (cost of living, climate, taxes ) And found out that Pittsburgh EMS does things that no other EMS service in the entire country does.

It seems like every agency has their ups and downs, some people will bitch about anything but I have to say I don’t feel supported and valuable here.  

Right now it seems like we’re on the upside of the curve. So it’s getting a bit busier out there. Not like NYC or anything, we’re just waiting for it to hit. We have specialty resources on the street 24/7 That are enhancing our regular medic units. We are really aggressive PPE Protocols in place that make me feel safe on every call. We’ll see what this weekend brings. 

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San Mateo seemed to have a comparatively more advanced and exciting system than CoCo or Sonoma, for AMR. And, of course, no system is perfect, it's always a work in progress. But I get excited to hear about systems interested in progress, rather than profits.

That's interesting that you wound up out here the way you did. Most tend to deal with what the area has to offer or drive mad commutes. I'm no different. I came out to do an internship at Prevention Point Pittsburgh to finish a bachelor in public health and was just really impressed by all Pittsburgh had to offer, in term of how livable it is and how awesome the harm reduction and healthcare people I met were.

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