It was back in 1972, when Tim Martin was a junior in high school that he first got involved in the medical field.
“I started on the ambulance in Minnesota. I had a first aid card and a CPR card – all the qualifications we needed back then,” Martin recalled.
Martin said there were two main reasons he decided he wanted to be an EMT. First, he looked at the job market back then and said that there was always a need for healthcare providers. Secondly, Martin liked the fact that an EMT’s day is different each day, and that fit his personality.
At the time Martin became an EMT, he admits that he thought he would do it only part-time.
“I didn’t know that I could do it fulltime for so many years,” Martin said. “My bachelor degree is in Business Administration with an emphasis in Tax Accounting and Business Law. When I came out of college in 1980 I worked with Sears Catalog in Accounting. I absolutely hated it. That propelled me to move back toward the paramedic work. ”
He finished his paramedic training at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in 1988 and embarked on what he calls a rewarding career as a nationally registered EMT-paramedic. For the past 10 years he has worked as an EMT-paramedic at New London Family Medical Center.
“We’re a hospital based ambulance service here, and that’s unusual. Most of them are municipal fire [ambulance service],” Martin said.
Martin said his job at New London Family Medical Center is two-fold.
“Here we are considered ER Paramedic Technicians, so 12 hours out of every 24, at a minimum, are in the emergency room right alongside the nurses and doctors,” he said. “Some of the other duties on the road, every other call, my partner and I are equally licensed and we switch patient care. So one is a driver call and one is a patient care medic. And then we switch roles.”
He said his work schedule consists of a combination of 12 hour and 24 hour shifts.
In 2009, Martin was recognized by the Board of Directors of the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) for achieving 20 consecutive years as a nationally registered EMT-paramedic. It was a recognition Martin said he didn’t know existed, let alone that he would be recognized.
“Over the years it has meant another award confirming that we are doing something important. That was one thing,” Martin said. “The other thing is it’s something that I don’t know that I worked to achieve but it happened along the way. I try to give the best patient care for each patient I have. That’s a cumulative effect of that.”
What makes the recognition even more remarkable is the fact that only one percent of all EMT-paramedics receive this distinction. Martin feels there are several factors as to why this percentage is so small.
“I think our occupation is limited as far as our physical ability. Some get injured, some get ill,” Martin said. “Family circumstances change – age, medical condition, family needs and some people want to change occupations. They’ve been a medic for 10 years and they are tired of it. They want a 9 to 5 job and they don’t want to be interrupted on holidays.
“I don’t know what it would be like to work Monday through Friday, 9 to 5.”
In addition to his job at New London Family Medical Center, Martin is also part-time on call with the Grand Chute Fire Department. There he is a certified firefighter, and a state certified fire inspector.
Martin admitted that the job of an EMT-paramedic is very challenging. He says dealing with neonates or pediatric patients, as well as patients suffering from physical abuse is especially troubling.
“Separating the emotions from the physical patient care sometimes isn’t always easy,” Martin said. “I think many EMT, firefighters, police and emergency services personal in general suffer from chronic fatigue. They never catch up and seldom have uninterrupted sleep. We eat fast, we move fast and we drive fast. It’s just a lifestyle that way, but we’re around to meet those needs with a schedule that is constantly changing.”
That is one thing that Martin stresses to anyone thinking about getting into this type of career – it interrupts family life.
“We always celebrate the kids’ birthdays early if I have to work, rather than later,” Martin said. “Christmas is always [celebrated] before. I’m not always at home for Thanksgiving dinner. People looking at this career need to know that. That’s part of the package that comes with emergency services work.”
Martin also enjoys deer hunting, and he is an avid traveler. He has been to every state except Hawaii. He has also been to South America, Asia and Europe.
“Between hunting and camping as a family, EAA and traveling, that about takes up what time I have available,” Martin said.
Martin knows that without the support of his family, his job would be much more difficult. He is married to Carolyn. Of their five children, three are out on their own, while two are in high school.
“My wife is very supportive,” Martin said. “We do more together as a family when we are able to and make those times really special.”