Close your eyes…

We are going to do a little “active blogging.” I want you to take a second, put yourself in the public’s shoes who have no knowledge of what us “ambulance drivers” actually do. [Definition: Ambulance Drivers (Noun) – Medics & EMT’s who are so ignorant that they have diluted themselves down to nothing more than human beings that operate a vehicle with red and white lights, more commonly known as ambulances. Ambulances also known as Rigs, Bus, Bone Box (callous snicker), truck etc.] You are transporting a family member of theirs to the hospital, that was complaining of chest pain for the last hour. Sitting nervously in the passenger seat next to you, the family member bends and twists in ways that you are pretty sure used to be anatomically impossible to do. They see thru the pass thru in the bus, and see all sorts of wires, electronics, tubing, and needles in or around the patient. Suddenly it happens. It is the moment of truth. The moment when they ask the age old question – “What is all of that for?”

You pause, deciding to embrace this moment, or pass it off in the front of the ambulance as that awkward conversation you try to have to fill the silence. You brush off the moment, and tell her: “It’s so we can check everything out, it’s protocol.” The person looks at you puzzled, and slightly unsatisfied and faces forward….”oh, ok then.” Is her reply.

Right there, that was your moment. That was the time you could have taken to advocate for your profession. It was a chance to display your pride in what it is that you do. A chance to show the public that the big expensive ride that they are getting to the hospital is actually making life saving diagnosis and providing substantial acute care treatments, AND ALL YOU COULD SAY WAS, “ITS PROTOCOL!”

Give me a break people. I mean seriously, if you came to me to complain about your wages, your working conditions, your equipment, If I were to tell you “its protocol” I would have a couple step grievances, maybe some workplace complaints, who knows. Collecting on my desk before the week is thru.

You work in a profession where with a single act of dialing 3 digits on a phone, a stranger puts their life into your hands. You are so much more than a “ambulance driver” For those out there who’s career is a little on the crisper, maybe even well done, side of life…remember back to Paramedic or EMT school. Remember when you were excited when the instructor would lecture about such interesting topics as cardiology, or trauma? I do. For those who’s careers just got thrown on the EMS Hot Plate, don’t loose that enthusiasm. This is a great career, a rewarding career. You CAN change people’s lives out there. Don’t let that moment pass you by to educate the public on what it is that you do.

That family member I mentioned above, she’s on the City’s Board of Alderman. She is in charge of budgeting. How do you feel now about saying “it’s protocol.” I’ll tell you exactly how she will feel about it, when the budget line item comes up that pays for EMS, she’s going to remember it being protocol. She isn’t going to remember that you have life saving tools in the back of your ambulance, she isn’t going to remember an eloquent explanation of every detail that you perform on a daily basis. She is going to remember that it is just protocol.

We are shooting ourselves in the foot here people, with a 12 gauge shotgun. EMS is an awesome profession. I am proud to say that I work with an excellent group of men and women. Don’t sell yourself short in the eyes of the public, and in your own personal perception of the job. You just never know who might be watching, or listening to you.

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2 responses to “Close your eyes…

  1. In these situations I wish I had a whiteboard with me to help explain what each treatment is doing with pictures! Had a new-onset atrial fibrillation patient the other evening that I spent most of the 20 minute ride explaining what it meant, why it is important, how it may affect their life, what to talk to the doctor about, etc. If only I had a whiteboard…

  2. I know the feeling! In cases of AFIB, I tend to use 2 fists to help demonstrate what’s going on in their heart. I’ll have my left fist represent how the Left Ventricle is pumping and my right fist how the Right Ventricle is pumping. It’s always fun seeing the moment of clarity when it hits them.

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