At every gathering of EMS providers, whether in person or in the online world, we constantly bemoan the perceived lack of respect that the “ambulance drivers” get from the rest of the medical community, from other public safety providers, and from the public that we serve. So, to answer the question as to “when will we get the respect that we deserve,” I present the following answers.
When doing the right thing for the patient becomes more important than doing something, no matter what it is.
When we embrace education and science-based medicine rather than dogma because “our instructor said so” or “I’ve seen it work.”
When we work constantly to raise the minimum standards for entry into EMS rather than continually watering down standards while using “the volunteer crisis” as an excuse.
When we spend as much on continuing education and pursuing knowledge as we do on getting another set of LED lights for our personal vehicle.
When we embrace professional self-regulation rather than being an afterthought in most states’ health and human services bureaucracies where the same people inspecting ambulances are inspecting tattoo parlors and tanning beds.
When the term “semester” replaces “clock hours” for ALL levels of EMS education.
When we recognize that patient advocacy and customer service are part of the job rather than something to be ridiculed with a t-shirt slogan.
When we realize that completion of a 120-180 hour EMT course and passing a test of minimal competency is but the beginning rather than the pinnacle of a medical career.
When we recognize that heroism consists of significantly more than merely working in the emergency medical field and doing your job.
When punitive medicine like selecting IV catheter size based on your annoyance factor with the patient or joking about rapid sequence intubation of a patient without adequate sedation is no longer accepted on your ambulance. (At the very least, can we not make these comments in a setting where the public can hear them?)
When shop-worn slogans denigrating advanced practice in favor of “BLS before ALS” are recognized as the anti-intellectual attitudes that they are.
When EMS education reaches a point where one can become a paramedic without first having EMT certification. Doctors didn’t go to physicians’ assistant school first and lawyers don’t have to become a paralegal first.
When we recognize that “street experience” may actually be meaningless if it was three years of working a BLS transfer truck and learning nothing but bad habits, shortcuts, dogma, and who gives free coffee to EMS.
When we realize that the most important thing that any EMS provider can do is to provide a thorough, competent assessment rather than some “sexy” skill.
When we stop using “the lawyers” as a mythical bogeyman and start understanding the laws and regulations that impact the practice of prehospital medicine.
When we as EMS providers have a voice at both the US Capitol and each and every state capitol.
When our goal is that we leave every patient at least as well as we found them.
When we stop defining EMS by “what we can do.”
When we realize that we DO diagnose and that diagnosis is not illegal, but rather, is expected.
When we recognize that what’s not an emergency to us is still the most important thing that’s happened to the patient today.
When we realize that the most important person in the room is the patient.
When we cease to define clinical competency by parroting a skills sheet.
When EMS managers cease to define success by response time and cardiac arrest survival.
When every EMS provider in every EMS system knows who their medical director is and how to reach them.
When we realize that continuing education is designed to teach new concepts rather than just merely repeating the same dogma on a two year basis.
When we recognize that lowest common denominator medicine means that providers will sink to the lowest common denominator.
When we finally realize that the biggest obstacle to EMS advancement is the average EMS provider.
When we recognize that it’s not our job to judge our patient, but it is our job to treat our patient.
When we can hit even fifty percent of these goals, the respect will be earned. And so will the salary.