When I first got involved in Emergency Medical Services (EMS) almost 9 years ago I thought that it would be an amazing stepping stone. At the time I wanted to become a police officer and knew that being involved in Public Safety would give me valuable experience that I couldn’t get elsewhere. I also knew that it would provide a decent paying job in order to pay the bills until something else came through.
As the months turned to years and I drifted from career idea to career idea I always kept the same mold. I needed to tie it back into Emergency Services or I wouldn’t be marketable. First it was Nursing followed by Emergency Management. I wanted to be in a chaotic environment where I could be the beacon of control in the midst of chaos.
Now I work at Baron Fig, a startup Analog & Digital Notebook company. I am the Head of Business Development which has nothing to do with Emergency Services and everything to do with things I learned while I was an EMT.
I am going to outline some key traits that people coming from the Emergency Services field (Police, Fire, EMS) have and how they overlap with key traits that Startups should be looking for.
- Adaptability — When you first get involved in EMS (it is likely the same for Fire and Police) they teach you the ‘textbook’ version of everything. Immediately after going over the textbook case of something you are told something that good EMTs keep with in mind throughout their careers:- “Nothing will ever be textbook so be ready to adapt at any time.” This adaptability is something that startups need due to the competitive world that they are trying to break into.
- Stress-Management —Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a real factor in the daily lives of EMS professionals. Everyone has that call they wish had gone better or that life they wish they could have saved. PTSD can eat at otherwise excellent providers until they break and wind up leaving the field or, worse still, staying in the field and burning out to the point where their own health becomes a concern. Likewise, the world of a startup is high-octane. Things are moving 1000 miles a minute and you have to be able to keep up even if it means working at night or over the weekend. Startup world is 24/7/365 and if done right it can be extremely rewarding. If you are not capable of managing it then you will burn out just as easily as an EMS provider.
- Charisma — The Public Safety fields draw type-A personalities to them. The ones most likely to be able to hold their own under pressure or be able to handle any situation that is thrown at them. This ability is highly sought after in the Startup world. I have already talked about it at length in a previous Medium article.
- Dedication — Members of the Public Safety community typically have an incredible dedication to their department or profession. They have been known to travel thousands of miles to the funeral of someone killed in the line of duty simply because of the camaraderie that is shared by the profession they choose. Startups require dedication on a micro scale. They need people who will be dedicated to the mission of the startup. A good startup wants someone who will remain dedicated to the mission even if a bump in the road exists. A really dedicated employee will also feel comfortable giving criticism about a direction when necessary because for the dedicated employee it is about furthering the mission of the startup and not necessarily about keeping the ‘status-quo’.
This list of traits is by no means exhaustive, but it should come as no shock that people in the Public Safety community have these traits. What is interesting is that it is quite easy for startups to overlook these traits when looking for employees or co-founders. It is easy to find someone who can do a specific task, but in the startup community you require so much more.
Someone who comes in to earn a paycheck and goes home will not suffice if you wish to launch your next big product or app and expect to make it as a larger company. If you can find someone with the above traits that person is a keeper. Find that type of person and hang on to them because the rewards will speak for themselves.