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Three Square Meals During a Busy 24-Hour Shift?


How many times has this scenario happened? Just as you sit down to finally eat during your busy 24-hour shift, a call comes in. You throw down your fork (that is, if you’re lucky enough to get a meal requiring a fork) and off you go.

By the time you get back, your food looks like Alpo and you either, a) no longer have an appetite, or b) are so ravenous you eat the entire helping in one bite. A cold, crusted-over cup of canned chili isn’t so bad when you don’t taste it, right?

Many of you are probably shaking your heads “yes” right now, yet wishing it wasn’t so.

But what can you do? Is there a way to combat the endless cycle of dash-and-hope-to-dine?  

The JEMS team asked its Facebook fans for advice on this topic. Specifically, we asked: How do you get your three square meals during a busy 24-hour shift?

Although some thought we were crazy for even suggesting that anyone in EMS might eat three meals in a day, others have come up with some creative ways to ensure it happens.

Here’s what both sects had to say:  

Andre said: I bring my own food to work. Just get up an extra hour early to prepare food.

Grimace said: You don't. The only hope is a dispatch system that keeps you in one area and not crossing the city after each run. Or you do your own version of Supersize Me, and eat nothing but fast food.

Steve said: One guy on shift gets cooking duty as his chore from 7 to 7, so we eat well at dinner. If it’s busy, then everyone fends for themselves. But most of the time we cook. It’s healthier and cheaper.

Alek said: Transport to the hospitals with the better-supplied EMS rooms.

Shaun said: Taco Bell $5 box meals. They are square ... boxes.

Aaron said: My paramedic instructor told us the first day of medic school that if we liked sleeping at night, hot food and high pay that it wasn't too late to drop out and start the nursing program. Some people did.

Hugh said: I don't. You just scrounge what you can when you can.

Alex said: Don't you know EMTs and paramedics are robots? We don't require food or sleep.

Jacob said: You don't get three square meals. EMS stands for Eat More Snacks. It's the only way you will get any nourishment during a shift.

Lesa said: I’ve been doing the Ambo for 20 years, and I’ve gained 70 pounds. I wish my meals were square, and then I wouldn't be so round!

Robert said: I am eating a chocolate bar for dinner tonight. That's as good as it gets.

Anthony said: You’ve gotta love roller dogs from your local gas station.

Edward said: Beans and rice are your friend, just not your partner's.

Jeff said: Bring your own food!

Francis said: What is this thing called Three Meals?

Stephanie said: I try to eat six to eight small meals/snacks throughout the shift. I finally figured it out after almost 10 years of not eating well. I have lost a lot of weight.

Lori said: We are lucky if we get one meal. That one meal is enjoyed over several hours because of how many times we get interrupted.

Rebecca said: Does the square box my hamburger comes in count?

If you’ve got suggestions on how to get three balanced meals in during a busy 24-hour shift, join the discussion on Facebook!


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