A great partnership is a beautiful thing.  A twelve hour shift can be very long when you spend it in the cab of an ambulance with someone with whom you do not get along.  By and large, I have been very lucky to have been paired with partners who are great people over the years.  I’ve heard many-a-horror story of partnerships gone awry, but other than a religious fanatic who often lectured me about my future as a demon in hell who inevitably lost his marbles and quit over the radio, I have never experienced much more than mild snafus.

I’m fairly certain I’ve been the obnoxious one on the truck most of the time.  Let’s face it; saying I’m quirky is a bit of an understatement.  As of right now, I am wearing a Wonder Woman bracelet, I have a Super Awesome trading card in my pocket, and my pet zombie Vince is nestled snugly in the dashboard handle.  I’m blond, I’m bubbly, I’m silly, I occasionally fix poor punctuation on posted signs, and they know me at most of the comic book stores in my city.  That stated, I don’t tolerate rudeness, maliciousness, or subpar treatment.  I use every opportunity to learn.  I may be a bit of a goofball, but I give it everything I’ve got on every call.  Putting it nicely, I can be a lot for a partner to handle.

Explaining the partner relationship to non-EMS folk is a bit of a challenge at best.  Most of the time when I reference my partner, people generally assume I’m a lesbian.  Frankly, it’s not completely unlike dating someone.  If a quarter of your time is spent with a person while experiencing drastic emotional and physical highs and lows, a relationship will build regardless of the orientation.  It tends to be the type of relationship in which all clothes are kept on and cuddling is kept to a strict minimum.  There are no big or little spoons on the ambulance.  I’ve heard tale of partners taking their relationship to a physical level on shift, which makes me shudder.  Ambulances are gross.  Ick.

I recently took a new shift and assignment, forcing me to part ways from my most recent partner.  While I have an exciting, new endeavor awaiting me, I can’t help but reminisce about the fun times I’ve had.  My last partner, FOB, took the news of my shift change well, despite that he told me he wasn’t ready to start partner dating again.  FOB (Fresh Off the Boat) gained his name because of the sheer inapplicability of the term; A Cuban by birth, he’s been in the States the vast majority of his life.  I started calling him FOB in lieu of “my partner” to non-EMS friends to make them refrain from questioning my sexuality, and it sort of stuck.  In addition to being a generally awesome dude, FOB is a very smart EMT with badass language skills and a great sense of humor.  I laughed at work every day with FOB.

FOB’s latino lusciousness occasionally crept up in conversation, and for this I was more than a little jealous.  What do I have?  Caucasian caution?  Lame.  FOB took pity on my boring WASPy racial heritage and gave me the title of honorary Cuban.  Once on a call at the home of a Hispanic family, FOB and I dealt with a frantic wife of a patient too inebriated to speak for himself.  Our patient’s poor wife was very flustered and struggling to find her words in English, despite the fact that she spoke English quite well under normal circumstances.  She consistently became frustrated with herself trying to report to me in English.  Ever the levelheaded provider, FOB told her, “It’s okay.  You can speak to her in Spanish.  She’s Cuban.”  Following that statement, everyone on scene appeared to do a collective head tilt of confusion.  With my alabaster skin, blue eyes, and blond hair, everyone was shocked to hear of my latina lusciousness.

FOB never failed to make me laugh with one liners:

Following a call in which we treated an unusually well-endowed lady with symptoms warranting a 12 lead ECG: “That 12 lead was all blind.  Those titties were so big, I had to use the force.”

Pulling out of the parking lot in the ambulance: “This truck has more miles than Madonna.”

After a domestic violence call in which the victim was well known for violence toward responding personnel: “What’s wrong with America when a nice lady like that can’t drink her 40 in peace?”

After pronouncing a man dead that was the victim of an obviously gang related shooting: “You know, this probably wouldn’t have happened if he joined a book club instead.”


Someone let these fools save lives.

Ah, FOB.  There’s always overtime.


  • Wild87red says:


  • I Love your FOB as well and felt the same way the short time we were partners….I hated to see him go …but I new he was going to a safe place and felt I could cut the apron strings….I am so lucky to have the chance to work with both of you!!! 🙂

  • Medic 22 says:

    Very funny! I feel the same way about my partner!

  • Brent Price says:

    After a heart attack took my wife away, I was looking through her index cards of contacts and found the name of my partner. She had added “Brent’s other wife.”

  • Guest says:

    With out question your partner can a big difference at work. I had a partner I worked with for 4 years and it was great. We had fun and did our job. I ended up burnt out and being a complete ass. I apologized to him after I left EMS and came to realize how I was wrong and how I made his life hard. Made my own even worse. 

    • parapup says:

      Yeah, burnout does that to people.  It’s a tough pill to swallow when you realize that you’re the one making trouble on the truck.  Mighty great of you to recognize the issue and apologize.

  • I have an extremely odd partner relationship. My partner also happens to be my husband. This works great for us. We are able to communicate effectively, we have lots of fun (although we save the “partner cuddling” for home), and who can you trust to have your back better than your spouse? I know that no matter what call we go on, I can trust him in every way. He’s the EMT, I’m the paramedic, and it works great! And our older patients just LOVE the way we pick on each other and joke around, especially when they find out we’re married. I think it puts them at ease. No matter if you’re a married couple or not, your partner becomes your spouse, more or less. Your relationship with your partner can make your career blossom, and can definitely impact patient care. Nothing is more important than a partner you enjoy.

    • parapup says:

      You know, I have never heard of a partner relationship between spouses working until now.  I have, however, heard of many partners who work very well together that tell their patients they are married.  You guys are most assuredly an anomaly.  Way to be awesome!

  • Anonymous says:

    Best one liner I’ve ever heard, from a medic friend’s partner:

    They respond to an unknown medical call, and find a teenager lying on his side on the couch, with a kielbasa sticking out of his rectum.

    Grizzled paramedic partner looks at the kid a few moments and says, “Son, you need to chew your food better.”

    FOB sounds like the kind of guy it’s a pleasure to spend a shift with.

  • GMedic says:

    My EMT gets on my nerves :(.

    • parapup says:

      Hang in there and keep a good book at an arm’s reach at all times.  When a shift bid comes around try to get a partner you can get along with.  Good luck!

  • 68Emu says:

    I had the pleasure of working with a fantastic partner a while back who started his career in elsalvador.

    Nothing phased him and I learned a lot from him. plus his broken English combined with his accent lead to me acting as interpreter not only for patients but also to other paramedics and hospital staff.

  • Bonnycastle50 says:

    In my neck of the woods, FOB stands for “feet on backwards” — I’ve gotten a few of those over the years, along with a few really great partners!

  • One of my favorites was from a grizzled old medic (since retired). We responded to the beach for a sting ray puncture. They guy was really whining and wanted us to carry him off the beach. He knelt down next to the guy and said quietly, “For godsake man there’s women and children present.” HAHAHA! 🙂 

    • parapup says:

      Lol!  That’s fantastic.  I had a middle aged man who couldn’t decide if he wanted to go to the hospital, and he kept crying.  I’m talking full on hissy fit crying, complete with balled up fists and wailing.  I yelled at him, “Sir, you are a grown ass man!  I need you to get it together.”  He stopped crying until we put him in the hospital bed, which was fine by me. 🙂 

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