Meet-A-Medic: Andrew Azelton, Clinical Specialist — Special Operations
I’m Andrew Azelton. I wear a few different hats at ATCEMS. I’m currently a Clinical Specialist in our Special Operations section where I function as a Rescue Medic. I’m also a Field Educator, and train our new hires as well as Paramedic students. I’m a founding member of our Association Competition Team, and travel all around the country competing in EMS competitions. I live just outside of Austin with my amazing wife Kendra and a few old, broken down dogs we’ve rescued. I enjoy traveling and have been all over the world.
Where are you from originally and what brought you to Austin?
I moved to Austin for a position with ATCEMS. I came from Oklahoma City where I was a medic for 7 years. I graduated Paramedic school in 2008 and moved to Austin shortly after that.
What inspired you to become a medic/What attracted you to this career choice?
After graduating high school I started to attend college but did not really feel I was interested in anything. Being a young adult I was looking for some kind of career path to go down. One day I went to the movies and watched Bringing out the Dead. If you’ve seen the movie you know it’s not the most feel-good movie about EMS. Despite this, I found the job interesting in that you drove around going to crazy situations trying to help people. Soon after, I signed up for EMT-Basic class and after my first clinical I was hooked. I quickly fell in love with the job, and never left.
How long have you been with ATCEMS and what motivated you to work here?
I’ve been with ATCEMS for 11 years. While I was in my Paramedic program I began searching for EMS departments that I thought would give me the best chance of having a career in EMS. I was attracted to ATCEMS because it is a third service department — I could focus on being a paramedic and have similar pay and benefits one might have working for a fire department. ATCEMS looked to give me the ability to be a single role paramedic in a city department with good pay and benefits, and a retirement at the end of my career was a plus.
What is your favorite part about working here at ATCEMS?
The people, hands down. I work with some of the coolest people around. Paramedics tend to have some of the best humor one can find. They constantly make me laugh and make my shifts very fun. I have made some great friends over the years, and many times I feel like I get paid to go hang out with my buddies for 24 hours. Who can beat that?!
If you had guests visiting Austin for the weekend, where is the first place you would take them?
I would start out at the Cathedral of Junk. One of Austin’s hidden and strange gems, I think it represents Austin’s true character. A close second would be a nice run around Lady Bird Lake, renting a paddle board, or hiking through the green belt.
What is your favorite taco joint in town?
Rudy’s breakfast tacos. Not a very hipster taco, but they are delicious, and Rudy’s takes excellent care of Austin’s first responders.
What do you do on your days off to relax and unwind?
The wife and I like to travel a lot. I take time off and we go to lots of places. I’ve been doing triathlons and marathons for the last five years. I’ve found that working out helps with the stress of the job and keeps me healthy and strong for the mental and physical stress that comes with becoming an older paramedic. When I’m not doing any of that, I’m usually found at the park with our dogs, or at the movies or out on the town with the wife.
Who inspires you?
My teammates in Special Operations. They constantly push me to be better, and are some of the most talented medics I’ve ever worked with. Don’t tell them that, however; they already have big heads.
What is the next place you would like to visit? Why?
We are planning on going to Australia next summer. It’s been on our list of countries to visit for some time. I want to swim in Great Barrier Reef for my 40th birthday.
Word of advice for an aspiring medic?
Never forget that you and your family always come before a job. EMS is a 24 hour business and is always open and operating. If you’re not careful you can easily give more of yourself than there is, and that’s called burnout. Avoid overtime and build a life outside of this job. Remember that EMS is more about helping people and fixing problems than saving lives. You will indeed save some lives and get on the news, but you will help thousands more by just being there for them and being kind and competent in their own time of need. If you can find joy in the simplicity of being a helper of people and not just a life saver you will have a long and rewarding career in EMS. Also, read Thom Dick’s book “People Care” once a year — really!
Follow us on all social media channels, and don’t forget to fill out a connect profile.
This publication features ATCEMS work culture and the lives of our medics. *Readings from other publications posted to Medium do not necessarily reflect the views or position of Austin-Travis County EMS, the City of Austin, or Travis County*