I read a lot about EMS in a lot of different forums. And invariably, almost anytime something goes wrong, there’s a debate about “this wouldn’t have happened in my system.” That’s usually followed by the inevitable debate about what model of EMS delivery to have, whether it’s fire-based, third service, private, hospital, or what have you.
I’ve heard a lot of medics accuse the fire service of wanting to take over EMS. Heck, I’d even say there’s some validity to those arguments. When modern construction techniques and fire safety codes have dramatically reduced the number of structure fires, you have to have something for the guys and gals at the station house to do. I’ll also concede that many large city fire departments pay lip service to the EMS mission and have a culture that doesn’t condemn lackluster care.
But ya know what? When you, as a third service, private, or hospital-based medic automatically say that the fire department either can’t or shouldn’t do EMS, aren’t you just the flip-side of the fire chief who says that only the fire service can do EMS? Like them, you’re dismissing, often arrogantly, the prospect that just because someone wears a certain uniform, that they’re incapable of providing clinically appropriate, compassionated medicine?
What I’ve found in EMS, at least in the USA, is that every community has different needs, different demographics, different politics, and different resources. The EMS model that Las Vegas uses might not work in rural Kansas. And probably neither would work in inner city Houston. That’s the beauty of EMS. We’re always adapting.
So, as a personal request from your favorite blogger (Oh, wait, I’m not Kelly Grayson!), I’ll ask the fire medics to chill with the “ambulance driver” comments and attitude. But for those of us whose ambulances aren’t red, we need to drop the “hose jockey” comments and saying that our patient isn’t on fire.
And by chance, if you’re in a system where you have first responders from another agency, take the time to work with them, help train them, and eventually, they might just rise to your expectations. Canceling them, clearing them from the scene early, or talking down to them only means that they will be utterly and completely incapable of helping when you really, really need that second set of hands on a bad scene.
Just my $0.02 after reading some pretty heated stuff the last couple of days. At the risk of sounding overly simplistic, we’re all supposed to be on the same team. Let’s start acting like it.