The Forgotten

There was a bumper sticker I saw the other day hanging in the EMS room at a Greater Boston Hospital. It read:

Police: The Finest

Fire: The Bravest

EMS: The forgotten

I had to laugh for a few minutes. It’s a true statement, but I was thinking of it in a different way than you might think. My first impression was that EMS is a service that no one seems to want to claim as their own. I couldn’t help but think, is this our own fault? There are three main types of EMS are: Fire Based, Third Service Municipal, and Private.

First up – Firefighters that play paramedics at work. Don’t take that sentence the wrong way. A large portion of Paramedics, become Paramedics because they want to get onto a fire department somewhere. Most fire departments are supplementing their budgets with using EMS as their bread and butter. This isn’t a bad use of man power because lets face it…things just don’t burn like they used to. Thanks to the lobbying groups behind various unions such as the International Association of Fire Fighters, they have elevated to a much higher professional standard for both Fire and EMS. I have a lot of respect for Firefighters and all that they can do for the public that’s for sure. My only issue is when the EMS care becomes a back step to everything else, that’s all.

Next up, is the third service model. This is when EMS is a completely separate department. It is not rolled into either PD or FD within a city. Personally, this is my favorite. Providers sole purpose at work is EMS. They train for EMS, they keep up in EMS related issues. They don’t have to worry about cross training and keeping up on two very different duties. Also, from the observations I have seen: They tend to be more professional as well. The organization’s mission is centered around patient care and the advancement of the field.

Finally, the dreaded Private EMS. Depending on where you work this is where almost everyone in the above mentioned fields gets their start. Typically people will work at Private Services while waiting to get onto a Fire Department or get into RN or PA school. There is very little career longevity in the Private EMS world. Usually you will not find the benefits system like that of a Fire or Municipal service. This will almost always insure a revolving door of experience levels.

With this said, my thought to you today is this:

How can I, as a provider, advance my profession?

I want you to think of this question in two ways. First, How can you improve the image of your profession. How does the public perceive your service? What are some ways that I can take the temperature of the public? Are there major things/people that need to change in order to make such improvements?

Second, I want you to take a look at your organization. Since, at this point (theoretically,) we know what we need to change. How do I motivate employees to want to work with management to improve? How do I get employees to want to improve the EMS field and all its various entities. Is this a possible task? If not, what do we do?

Its a lot of food for thought that I just threw at you. Lets be honest though, we are out biggest downfall when it comes to advancing both the image and actual skills of the profession. Remember that next time you decide to yell at someone on the PA of your ambulance because they didn’t move fast enough (guilty). Remember that next time you decide to tell that awesome story of what you did to who and for how much last night. The public picks up on little things like this and that is why our profession is almost doomed to the relentless title of “ambulance drivers.”

That’s all for now, enjoy whats left of the weekend. Talk to ya’ll soon!

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