Tactical Medic 101: Border Patrol Medic Interview
So you're tired of lifting fat poop covered people, and taking a little too much pride in your #PoopGang stickers. You can't join the military because your girlfriend won't let you, and you "cAnT tAkE oRdErS fRoM pEoPlE" (and ironically are paid less than fast food workers) but you wanna rock a plate carrier and carry a gun. What is an EMT to do?
Join the Border Patrol.
THE BORDER PATROL!
They hire at 18, you have a 20 year retirement, will be making 100k within 5-6 years, and they have a baller program for EMT's and Paramedics. Fun Fact: You aren't dealing with BS medical calls as a BP Medic. How do we know all this? Because we went straight to the source, a border patrol paramedic!
WR: So you find yourself chasing people at the border while doing medic stuff. How did you get to that point?
JS: "Well, I was a career firefighter/paramedic for about 8 years, and wanted a change of pace with less bullshit calls. The pay is pretty solid, and the fun is hard to beat.
WR: Career fire medic, now you work BP, how did that work?
JS: "I grew up in the fire service. My dad retired from it, and I had been working as an EMT since 2007. I applied everywhere and anywhere when the market tanked, and nobody was hiring firefighters. I finally got hired in 2011, but in that time made a lot of friends who worked for BP, and constantly told me about how fun the job was, and they were clearly living pretty comfortably. I was getting burned out as a paramedic, so I made the jump and applied to BP"
WR: How was the transition from Fire to LEO?
JS: "Not hard, but weird. You spend years working together as a team, and suddenly you can only rely on yourself in the middle of nowhere. We aren't conventional cops. We get trained to work alone, miles from backup, apprehending lone individuals or groups of 15. The medic side is hard to suppress sometimes."
WR: Tell us about the academy?
JS: "Sure! The academy was more physically, mentally, and academically challenging than any fire academy I had been to, and was on par with how hard medic school was. Unless you speak Spanish, you're learning a job in english and then again in Spanish."
WR: How long did that last for? Do they teach you spanish or do you need to come in with some understanding?
JS: "It's a 6 month live in academy in New Mexico, the air smells of petroleum and cows. Spanish classes start at the alphabet, and work up to scenarios and conversations. It's enough to get you through an arrest or figure out if they're talking about killing you when you turn around."
WR: How long was the hiring process?
JS: "It's drawn out. It took me a year to make it through. Some are 9 months, others are 2 years. The background is a time consumer."
WR: Tell us about your gear/vehicle? You mentioned you have a full paramedic scope you are able to work under?
JS: "All we are required to carry is cuffs, a less lethal option, and our pistol. Everything after that is personal preference for the most part. I rock a pretty slick setup. My ride is a pretty nice Tahoe 4x4, and as part of our EMS program, I carry a full setup including a monitor and drug box. The BP will keep your certs active while you are on probation, so you can join the EMS program immediately after finishing your probationary time."
WR: Tell me about the Ford Raptors - how do you score one of those?
JS: "Haha, those aren't super common any more due to the cost."
WR: Tell us about the schedule and pay?
JS: "If you have no military/leo/degree, you start as a GL5. In the academy you are at 45k a year, after that you are about 50k. Each year for the first 4-5 years you go up a paygrade, so 5 to 7 to 9 to 11 then 12. GS12 are averaging 100k a year. The pay jumps quick, and there is more than they show on USAjobs. If you have military/leo/degree, you start at a 75k."
WR: That sounds pretty awesome! Anything else you'd like to include for those thinking about it?
JS: "It's like any job out there. It has it's negatives, but it is what you make out of it. It's the ultimate outdoor job, you can do literally anything that any other agency could ever dream of having. For EMT's and medics struggling to get a good paying job, this is it. I miss the fire service, obviously, but I don't regret leaving it for one minute. Also, some of the most caring people I've ever met work for BP, especially within the EMS program. We will go through hell to get someone care."