But not always. And probably not if you are Owen McLauchlan. Last week he was the target of many furious Tweets and blogposts, excoriating him for his actions. And those were?
Wanting his mandated tea-break. The heartless fiend...
An ambulance technician who chose not to respond to what proved to be a fatal heart attack when he was on a tea break has been told he can keep his job.Training for what, precisely? In how to be a better servant to the almighty State, and to willingly work beyond the limits of hunger, or tiredness, until you make a mistake and get hauled over the coals for that instead?
The technician was 800 yards away when 33-year-old Mandy Mathieson had a cardiac arrest in Tomintoul, Moray.
However, the call was instead answered by paramedics based 15 miles away in Grantown-on-Spey.
The technician has been ordered to undergo training.
As I pointed out on Anticitizen One's blogpost at 'National Death Service', if there's a fault here, then surely it lies with the ambulance service and their understaffing that meant adequate nearby cover for his break wasn't forthcoming?
Ms Mathieson's uncle, Charlie Skene, 52, said the family was not surprised by the ambulance service decision, although it was disappointed.Oh, please! You've already admitted that he was well within his rights to do what he did. Why not direct some of that anger at the situation which means if an ambulance technician stops for a sandwich or a wee, there's no cover for miles?
He said: "He was only abiding by their rules but what are they going to teach him?
"Surely they can't teach compassion, so what are they going to give him lessons in?
"That they are employing him shows you a lot about the people at the top. They're happy having that kind of people working for them."
And is the man supposed to run purely on 'compassion' alone? He's not an automaton!
I can't help seeing this attitude - that 'first responders' should be expected to go above and beyond their normal duties at all costs - as a flip side of the fetishisation of work that seems to crop up in the comments to Charlotte Gore's post on the English work ethic.
I'll be honest here - if I didn't need to work to pay the bills and keep myself in the style to which I've become accustomed, I wouldn't.