Emergency Medical Service Characters in Fiction
Having spent almost 30-years in Emergency Medical Services myself (certified EMT, volunteer) and having all of my immediate family involved as well in both volunteer and paid EMS roles, I’ve learned what a unique and interesting life the career creates. I used the “job” for a few of my main characters: Julie (paramedic, Final Sin), Matt (paramedic and flight medic, Final Sin and Hyphema), and an un-named paramedic (The Dead Guy in the Park, a short story in Touch of Love). Other books describe EMS responses in various scenes.
Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), and Paramedics respond to sudden illness and traumatic injuries and provide life-sustaining care in pre-hospital situations. Both roles require extensive training, are either state certified or licensed, have the ability to quickly assess a patient’s condition, and perform interventions and care with equipment and medications found on an ambulance; the EMT provides Basic Life Support, the Paramedic provides Advanced Life Support. Both EMTs and Paramedics are medical professionals, paramedics are often the highest trained medical personnel on out-of-hospital scenes.
Julie, a female paramedic in Final Sin, was the more challenging character to portray as opposed to her partner, Matt. She wasn’t a challenge in terms of her abilities. Emergency Medical Services in the United States has been a predominantly male-dominated field (although that is changing) — in areas where EMS is in fire-based departments the male to female ratio is higher than stand-alone EMS. Traditionally women have had to prove themselves more than most men; there are also some well-intentioned overly-chivalrous males who feel the need to protect their female partners and sometimes inadvertently interfere with what has to be done.
She’s been a paramedic for a number of years by the time of the opening scene in Final Sin so Julie already had the respect of her partner (Matt) and other first responders. Despite the ugly crimes depicted in this story, there is an underlying romance and Julie’s burgeoning relationship with Jake, a local sheriff, covers both professional and personal interactions between the two. On the one hand Julie (like most real life paramedics, female or male) is well-trained and can emotionally and physically deal with trauma, unexpected emergency situations, and vital life-saving activities; on the other hand her love-interest, Jake, wants to “take care of her” and protect her while still respecting her position.
Because of my own experience in EMS I have no qualms about feminity and capability co-existing and even permitting Julie to become a “damsel in distress” in the story, but I also realized that people from other regions and other walks of life would be reading my book and I wanted them to have the same perception and respect for the female paramedic. I made an effort to make Julie a well-rounded and whole person with past that makes her who she is in this book. One scene that I believe demonstrates this in part is (no spoilers) when she and her partner are in an ambulance accident and she is injured, but there is a patient in the car that hit them that needs help and Julie is there, never giving in until her patient is finally transferred to another ambulance crew. She’s “human” but certainly no weak maiden.
First Responders can be heroes, they are also vulnerable human beings. I try to give all of my characters, both female and male, human frailties along with courage and strength, isn’t that what real people are all about?
Chelle Cordero writes stories of Passion and Suspense. Vanilla Heart Publishing has published ten Cordero novels since 2008: Bartlett’s Rule; His Lucky Charm; Within the Law; Courage of the Heart; Final Sin; Hostage Heart; A Chaunce of Riches; Common Bond, Tangled Hearts; Hyphema; Karma Visited; and Annie’s Karma. She’s written two short story anthologies, The Many Faces of Chelle Cordero, and Touch of Love. Her books have earned many plaudits and she was featured in “50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading” published by The Author’s Show in 2010. More information about Chelle is available at http://chellecordero.com/media/.