A Day’s Work: Paramedic


Brian Breithaupt was born and raised in Saugerties. He is a paramedic with the Diaz Memorial Ambulance Service.

How did you get into this line of work?

I actually called Diaz Ambulance Service to take me to the hospital many years ago. At that time they were a blended agency with a mix of volunteers as well as full staff members. I lived down the road and thought after that experience, why not volunteer.  I began as a volunteer over 20 years ago and am currently a full-time employee. I started as a volunteer driver working on shifts with a paramedic running calls. Diaz Ambulance is a doorway to the EMS field. Many learn here. I learned a lot and this made me want to become an EMT and sparked the interest in becoming a paramedic.

What did you do for work previously?

I worked at IBM until I was laid off.

What qualities make for a good paramedic?

You need to be a caring individual. You have to think quickly on your feet and be good with people in general. A paramedic is always studying and involved in education, is medically driven and always wants to learn more. There is ongoing training and certifications to complete, so you have to enjoy learning.


What type of training is involved?

Driving the ambulance is a course of training, and then in the medical training you start as an EMT. The EMT course is a six-month training program. I then went into EMT intermediate as the next level. I studied for a full year at the Hudson Valley Community College paramedic training to become certified. This involves state testing, and recertification every three years. There are a lot of other certifications we must keep up on; that includes CPR and many state certifications and regional testing to keep up with. I attend medical lectures and shadow doctors in the hospitals.

What it is like to drive an ambulance?

The most frustrating thing is that people don’t obey the laws or are not considerate of the other people on the road. We are trying to save lives and we are here for the community. Many challenges are involved and sometimes road conditions in the winter can be very challenging.

What is the best thing about your job?

Helping someone is the best. Seeing that we made a difference in improving someone’s life is a great day.

What is a bad day on the job?

Losing a life is always the worst; lots of tragedy in the field.

How has the job changed?

There have been many changes since I began 20 years ago, especially in the technology. We began with paper reports and now do electronic reporting. We have gone from bandaging up people to reversing cardiac arrest. I have seen many major technological advances.

Anything you would like the community to know?

We paramedics are here for the community. We would like people to be aware that they should have the house well marked and well lit so we can find them more easily, at night especially. Always dial 9-11 and be very clear with the dispatch as to your location and needs. Gather as much identification and personal information as you can to help us be more efficient in assisting your needs.

Where do you see yourself ten years from now?

I have been doing this for 20 years. I see myself still doing this. My passion is to serve the community.