So you want to be a first responder. The list of folks who make this choice each year can number in the thousands. What will make you successful in fulfilling your wish; preparation? Preparing for your career in Emergency Services should start the second that you decide to pursue a position. You see, these positions are hard to find and even harder to be hired. Competition for firefighters, emergency medical services, and police officers can be some of the most sought-after positions as they offer great benefits, hours, and pride in serving our communities.

So how do you go about finding and preparing? The first thing that anyone should do is conduct a national search for available positions and identify their hiring requirements. These entry-level requirements vary from state to state and if you do not know what they are, you may never be prepared. From written test procedures to physical fitness requirements, discovering their entry-level requirements will allow you to make a “plan of attack”. Without a plan to follow, successfully being hired into one of these positions may never be possible.

Secondly, you will need to be flexible. If you set your sights on only one department, you may miss other great opportunities. Make a list of departments and positions that you are interested in and rate them, in order of your preference. This will open more opportunities to begin your career by not narrowing your selection to just one department. If you find that you do not like this current department, you can continue to apply while gaining experience and training in the meantime.

Do not be afraid to “pad your stats”. Many departments are experiencing budget cuts that continue to put a strain on their training dollars. By beginning the training process before you are hired, you will make yourself more attractive as an employee while offering them value in your hiring. This can be a costly undertaking as the expense of this training is not cheap. Reach out to the departments on your “hit list” and research what the basic training needs is of an entry-level member. An example of this is to begin your emergency medical service training by enrolling in an Emergency Medical Technician-Basic course. Most all career firefighters, Emergency Medical Services, and even Police services find this training valuable.

There is no question that a career in public service pays more dividends than a salary. Being able to help your neighbor or a complete stranger with compassion, understanding, and professionalism allows you to go home with a feeling that you truly made a difference. If you are interested in a position, you will need to do your homework. Identify your potential positions, learn their requirements, and make a plan so you will be an attractive employee when your resume is lying besides hundreds of others. Best of luck to you all and I look forward to seeing you out there!

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