Monday, August 28, 2006

The light at the end of the tunnel!

The light is a new career and the tunnel is my less-than-impressive resume spanning the last several years. The last few years have seriously sucked, job-wise.
I worked in a convenience store on grave shift during college, quit that job to come work for QVA (which is the one thing that has been relatively steady for me) and because I was moving back home, then in '04 i got a job working at a furniture factory near here. I turned down a security/EMT position at the casino because this job was closer to home. Then I kind of kicked myself because the factory job lasted 8 months, then I got laid off due to a sales slump. Looked back into the casino, nothing open. Looked into the R.M. Syracuse, also kept looking locally for work. I got hired on at a Marina/Bait and Tackle shop, then a week before that was to start, RM called me for an interview. So I weighed my options: $8.50/hr 15 miles from home, or $8.00/hr starting pay 45 miles from home. I took the closer option.

A week after I got hired, they decided to tell me it was a seasonal job. The place is open year-round, but only 2 or 3 people, the manager included, work there during the off-season.
When the end was getting near, I looked back into the casino. I got shot down from there because they didn't like the fact that I had a fair amount of Saturday classes for paramedic class, and they told me to call back after class was done. Yeah, right. I'll get right on that.

I wound up getting hired as a Sub. Bus Driver for the school district I live in. That was relatively steady and quite interesting. So over this past winter, I worked for QVA, occasionally for VO (Just started doing my ride-outs that are required for new employees and new ALS providers. before that, I havent worked there in months... BS factor got to be too high and i felt i needed to concentrate on paramedic class more than I did being people's litter-box), and I drove Bus.

When school let out, I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. I desperately needed a job, but I had NO time available to get a full time job and still get my clinicals and ride time done. So I scraped by over the summer, working for QVA, then getting hired at the bar that I have frequented over the last year or so. That is quite entertaining, being a bartender in a redneck bar. Some of the stories I've heard and some of the people I've met... wow.
Anyway, i've been working there for a couple months, a few days a week, and it's helped. The main thing was that it is flexible.

Early this year I had to stop by the Administrative Office for the schools and on my way out, I took a glance at the bulletin board, which had a number of civil service exam postings on it. One caught my eye: Public Safety Telecommunicator. Hmm. So I looked into it, paid to take the exam, took it in March, and went on my merry way.

Then in June, I got a notice in the mail to report to the county office building on such-and-such day for the Typing and Information entry test. I went, passed it, and again went on my way

I got a canvas letter and the test results shortly thereafter. I scored a 90 on the civil service exam, which surprisingly put me in the #1 spot. I also comfortably passed the typing test. Well wouldn't you know it, I got that letter, went to MA to visit my Aunt and Uncle for a weekend, came home, and on the Tuesday after I came home, I sat down to fill out the canvass letter. As I was looking it over, my heart almost stopped. The time was 17:30 on a Tuesday. The canvass letter had to be hand delivered or postmarked THAT DAY. %$#@&
I was so mad at myself, because I had spent that whole day being a couch potato, then finally remembered the letter when it was too late.
The next day, I called the county Personnel Dept and told them what happened. They said that I was off of that canvass list, but if I sent in the canvass letter with an explaination as to why it was late, they would put me on the list for any future canvass. I did just that, then I spent about a week kicking myself over my laziness and blowing that job opportunity, then I got over it and decided to keep looking for job possibilities.

Fast-forward a few weeks. Guess who gets a phone call from the 911 Center, looking to set up an interview? That put me on Cloud 9. I went into my interview, found out that I was one of 4 candidates, and also the only one with any dispatching experience (Mom used to dispatch for one of the ambulances in an adjoining county before 911 came in, and when I was old enough I also signed on. Didn't do much dispatching because 911 came in just before I joined, but I got a few years of keeping track of the rigs, their times, getting crews together, etc etc.)
Anyway, the interview went well, the interviewer (who is also the head of 911, a county coordinator, among other things) told me all the stuff about the job, asked tons of questions... When it was over, he said they would be wrapping up the interviews that week and would be making their decision the week after that and would call to let me know.
Well, they never called. I didn't think much of it, I figured I either didn't get it, or else they were following the typical state/county hiring process (slower than molasses in February). A few weeks ago, I got a letter telling me to go to the county health office for a Visual and Hearing Acuity test. I figured that either it was just another part of the screening process prior to them making their decision, or else I had the job and they just forgot to tell me.
There was one girl there who had taken the test and we got talking. I asked if anyone had ever called her after the interview and she said that no, no one did, but she called the guy at 911 and bugged him after a week or 2 and he told her that yes, she had the job, Personnel must have forgotten to call. So right there, I got excited. She was #2 on the test, I was #1, and we were the only 2 there for the visual/hearing test.
The visual/hearing test was the day after the written exam for paramedic (So it was the 18th). Wednesday of last week, I got a call from home while I was working at the bar: There were 2 letters for me from the Dept. of Personnel. They brought them to me, i opened them, one was another canvass letter and the other was a letter saying that I passed the physical exam requirements for the job and was now eligible for appointment. SWEEET!
The next day, I called Personnel because I had a question about the canvass letter. On the front are 2 checkboxes. One says "Yes, I am interested in the position" and the other one says "No, I'm not interested". On the back are all sorts of particulars to check, and I wanted to make sure I filled it out right. I asked the woman at personnel what I needed to do on the back and she said "Nothing, just check yes or no on the front. I know for a fact that they want to appoint you to the position, and the only thing you use the back for is for future canvasses if you dont get appointed the first time around. So just check yes on the front and send it back to us, we'll get it upstairs, approved by the county board, send it to the 911 Center, and you should be hearing from them soon, it could be a few days, it could be a few weeks." I was almost dancing across the firehouse when I got off the phone with her. So I mailed it Thursday of last week.

I am really excited about this. I'm really hoping and praying that I can hack it as a dispatcher, because it is way past time for me to get into a career and get out of the dead-end-job pool.
I do have the paramedic card under my belt, so I can always fall back on that, but still. This job has county benefits, state retirement, starting pay of $23,381 a year, $30,000 at 5 years, and a really sweet vacation and scheduling setup. 8 hour days, 5 on 2 off, and each pay period the off-days back up one day. So if my first 2 weeks I have Wed-Thur off, the next pay period I get Tue-Wed off, then Mon-Tue, Sun-Mon, so on so forth. 2 weeks paid vacation per year, I get my 2 weeks the first year but I can't use them until I hit the 1-year mark, so when my 2nd year starts, I'll have 4 weeks of vacation that year. Then you have the usual earning of sick time and personal time.

From what they said in my interview, you don't get stuck on any one position, either. There are 5 spots on shift: County Law (State Police, County Sheriff, and multiple town/village police agencies) County Fire/EMS, City Fire, City PD, and Data (running VINs and licence info, backgrounds, etc.) and it rotates on a day to day basis so that each day you're on a different station.

Did I mention that i'm really excited about this? I am gonna make this work. This is too good of a shot for me to miss. I think I could definately stick with this job. It would take something pretty impressive for me to leave this job. As long as I can handle everything that goes with it, I don't see it being much of a problem. I've dealt with the on scene stuff for 7 years... I know dispatch can be just as stressful though. Probably more so, I would imagine. (What do you think, Wadical? Any advice?)

Well, it's getting late and i need to go get some coffee. Have a good night!


At 4:33 AM, August 29, 2006, Blogger HotRodHanna said...

Congrats! Combined centers can be a lot of fun. You can alternate bwtn PD, FD and EMS. It gives your brain a workout and keeps things interesting. I hope you like it!

At 7:35 PM, September 08, 2006, Blogger Aucklandir said...

Hey well done dude. Im sure you will love it and the practical EMS experience you have had will help tremendously. Its one thing taking a routine call but if you can actually picture whats going on at the scene from your experience it makes the world of difference. Also gives you that sixth sense. Go for it.

At 5:11 PM, September 14, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Adam...hmm..sounds overwhelming...just a are alot more complicated then I thaught...hmmm...any no more will all work itself out in the end..p.s. I am here if u need me..

always and only me



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