Guest Blogger

Holiday Work Planning Tips for EMS Professionals

Steve Kanarian, EMS educator and retired paramedic, shares his tips for planning for the holidays. Steve writes:

A career in EMS is stressful enough while balancing personal, family and work needs. The holidays are a time when EMS providers can be put under enormous stress due to family functions, treating critical patients, high call volume and stress of previous holidays. EMS providers may be “down” because of traumatic calls on a previous holiday or while thinking of deceased family members they miss at Christmas. These tips helped me bear the burden of holidays in EMS during my 25-year experience as a paramedic.

First, understand the days you have to work and plan functions accordingly. When attending holiday parties, limit alcohol use or don’t have any at all. Never drive while under the influence of alcohol. When accepting invitations after work, accept the invitation and let friends and family know, you may have to stay for overtime and be late for the party.

Second, if you want a holiday off put in for the day off. A little hint: Don’t tell your buddies you are putting in for a holiday off. They may have the seniority to bump you. Often a holiday is not asked for off because everyone assumes a senior person already got leave for the day. If you want the day off, put in for the day, quietly.

Finally, you can exchange shifts. You may be able to do a mutual shift change with another person. Perhaps you can work a double on Thanksgiving and your buddy will work for you on New Years Day. Find a holiday partner, prioritize your holidays and work it out.

Next week Steve will share his tips for when you have to work on the holidays.

By Greg Friese

Greg Friese, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, is an author, educator, paramedic, and marathon runner.

Greg was the co-host of the award winning EMSEduCast podcast, the only podcast by and for EMS educators. Greg has written for,, Wilderness Medical Associates, JEMS Magazine, and EMS World Magazine, and the NAEMSE Educator Newsletter.