Rescue Captain Justin Schorr

Rescue Captain Justin Schorr

 "Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours."

– Richard Bach

In this episode, Chris Baker sits down with Rescue Captain, Justin Schorr, "the Happy Medic" to talk about what he's learned over the last 25 years in the fire service and why one of the worst pieces of advice is "get your Medic." While obtaining the license will get you on a smaller list when hired, there's a catch, they want you to work as a medic when you get hired.  Find out more about what EMS means to the Future Firefighter and listen to this episode.

"Should every Future Firefighter become a Paramedic?  In one word, Yes.  EMS is the future of the Modern Fire Service so each candidate should have a grasp on their place in the system as they get hired.  Paramedicine isn't for everyone. There's a lot of stress involved in not only obtaining the license, but maintaining it and, of course, being responsible for the care of your patients." (Schorr)

"When you get hired as a Paramedic, here's a hint...they need you as a Paramedic." (Schorr)

"In most departments, 70-80% of the calls for service are medical in nature, and if you add motor vehicle calls, instead of vehicle extrication and or vehicle fires, you are approaching 90%.  Almost 90% of what firefighters are doing, is helping people without even touching anything on the engine, except an EMS kit." (Schorr)

"The best advice I ever got.  They are going to make you jump through a lot of hoops that I can't even imagine.  The best advice, I can give you is to jump through them." (Schorr / Orange County Fire Captain)

"I would encourage candidates to look towards the future and the future is what are we going to do, in our downtime between fires? Providing medical care for most jurisdictions is the biggest thing to do." (Schorr)

"I want you to want to be a paramedic. The trick about becoming a paramedic to get hired with the fire department, once you get hired, they want you to be a good paramedic.  It is not just getting through the door and making the short stack of applications. They need you to be a functioning paramedic." (Schorr)

I didn't want to go to EMT school until I realized when the ambulance transported, I was the only help people had, and I thought people deserved better." (Schorr)



  • "If you are out there in a fire academy and you are wondering, what can I do to get hired with the fire department?  I need you to want to be a paramedic. Don't just get your paramedic. I want you to be a paramedic." (Schorr)
  • "Don't become a paramedic just to get a job." (Baker)



(According to Rescue Captain Justin Schorr)

  • There is a skill in being able to communicate with a patient.  Find out their chief complaint.  Determine the proper method of treatment.  Establish a differential diagnosis.  Treat, reassess, retreat.  Those things don't come from studying a skills sheet.
  • Fail now is my best advice.  I love being wrong because if I am right, I don't learn anything.  If I am wrong, I learn something, and I can change my behavior moving forward.
  • Getting hired with the fire department is like the affirmation that everything you have done to this point was the right thing to do.
  • Check your sources of information to make sure the information is reputable.
  • Luck is just unrecognized confidence.
  • Look for a system that is doing what you want. Don't chase a paycheck or a locale.
  • There is always another hill to climb.


Top 10 things to do that increase your odds of getting a job.  (Not in any specific order).

  1. Volunteer with the local fire department.
  2. Enroll in an EMT program.
  3. Receive your EMT certification (NREMT).
  4. Obtain your ambulance driver's certificate.
  5. Seek employment opportunities at a private ambulance company.
  6. Complete a paramedic degree program.
  7. Participate in a monthly run review at your local trauma center.
  8. Join a Paramedic journal club.
  9. Build up your confidence and rapport with patients.
  10. Attend local and or a State level EMS conference.



The Happy Medic

What’s Your EMERGENCY? The Podcast that responds to all emergencies on, and off, the job

Fire Captain / Paramedic Rommie Duckworth

Paramedic / CEO Chris Montera

Battalion Chief / Paramedic Tom Bouthillet

Paramedic Kelly Grayson


Bach, R. (2001). Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah. London: Cornerstone.


You can listen to the show on these platforms:


Justin Schorr is a Rescue Captain in San Francisco California, having served as a field Paramedic and Firefighter, Field Captain, Administrative Captain (CQI) and is ARFF qualified, currently assigned to the busiest Rescue Captain in the City in the Mission District out of Station 11. He has spent 25 years in the fire service and is experienced in rural, suburban, and urban firefighting and paramedicine.

Listen to this episode

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