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In a heartbeat: EMTs find their own reasons to sign up for a job where reaction time is everything

Divine Savior Healthcare paramedic Matthew Graf doesn't consider himself high-strung, but he has been known to regularly jump straight out of his chair when telephones, pagers or fax machines go off in his immediate vicinity.

It's not that the Emergency Medical Service veteran of almost 15 years is startled by the noise. But if the beeping is similar to the two-tone ambulance page that goes out over the emergency airwaves when help is needed, jumping up and grabbing a radio is reflex for Graf and his 41 emergency medical technician colleagues.

"Your training just takes over," Graf said. "You may have some trouble sleeping later, but when you're on a call, you just do what needs to be done and think about it later."

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