Recently, I’ve seen more than a few EMS types posting requests for crowdfunding for them to engage in medical work, either as a medical missionary or in solidarity with various protest movements. I get it. The urge to help others, especially in moments of extreme need, is a huge motivator for many of us in public safety or medicine. (And yes, that’s controversial right there. EMS is a mix of public safety and medicine. We use a public safety model to deliver medical care. Prehospital care is what I like to call “operational medicine.”)
But, to me, asking for crowdfunding to subsidize your passion reeks of so much that I don’t like about EMS. There’s a vocal portion of people in EMS who are all about “LOOK AT ME! VALIDATE MY EXISTENCE! I’M DOING SOMETHING NOBLE AND YOU SHOULD APPRECIATE ME!” It’s so common throughout EMS, as we see with the t-shirt and bumper sticker brigade. I get it. We want to help. But it seems that, for a vocal portion of EMS providers, we only want to help when we’re getting attention. (Bonus points if you appeal to social justice and get subsidized for being a medical activist…)
Bluntly, if you’re having to get others to pay for your altruism, you probably aren’t in a financial situation to be taking the time off to travel to a faraway land, whether overseas or even in the USA. It’s, at best, highly irresponsible.
The honest-to-God (or insert your deity of choice) truth is that there’s plenty of places local to each of us without access to medical care. Heck, there’s plenty of places within an hour’s distance of each of us that are probably lacking access to quality EMS care and would love to have a passionate, dedicated volunteer provider on board.
Way too many folks in EMS make fun of volunteers and claim that volunteers are responsible for poor EMS standards and low wages. Yet way too many people in EMS volunteer — when it gets them attention and a partially funded trip out of town.
As the old saying goes, charity begins at home. Find your local service or local medical organization where you can begin to address the lack of care locally. Ok, rant over.