Election Night (Not what you think)

Election Night brings out the worst in many of us. In large part because of the 24 hour news cycle amplified by social media, we get way too invested in politics and sometimes let our mouth overload our rear. (Pro-tip for those of us who love politics and love discussing it, private groups are the way to go on Facebook.)

I saw some of the worst behavior come from my fellow members of the Bar. Many attorneys I know were posting things that I wouldn’t have expected from dispassionate professionals.  The comments (and they were from both sides of the political aisle) ranged from sour grapes, veiled passive-aggressive statements, or out and out statements that they’d be unfriending people. (Another pro-tip here.  I do know some of these people and it speaks volumes as to their professionalism and whether I might believe they have the temperament to handle a case I might refer their way.)

Late last night, a post started making its way through EMS social media showing a paramedic saying (in part), “I’ll start asking if you are a trump (sic) supporter – if you are, y’all will die in my ambulance.”  The response from EMS was swift and gave me a great deal of hope for our emerging profession.  Everyone denounced it.  Whether you wanted to “make America great again” or identified as a democratic socialist, everyone agreed that this sentiment had no place in EMS.  And they spoke up.  Not only did they speak up, they made a point to notify this guy’s employer and the various licensing entities that they didn’t want him in our profession.  At least one employer terminated their relationship with him by morning and at least one licensing agency is aware of his temperament to practice as a paramedic.

Regardless of whether the gentleman deserves to remain employed or certified as a paramedic, our profession spoke with one voice and said that we won’t tolerate such a mindset. And my other profession, the profession of law, has become so politicized and activist (on both sides) that we have, at least in some part, lost track of what we’re supposed to be doing, namely zealously representing our clients and providing them with sober counsel.

Last night, EMS stepped up and took a stand for our profession.  And for a change, we did it better than the lawyers.  Pardon me while I brag on being a paramedic. We’ve beat the other professionals at being professional and separating the personal from the professional.

KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid

When you’re involved with EMS social media, you see a lot of stuff scrolling through.  Some of it, like FOAMfrat, does a great job of making advanced life support and critical care concepts easy to understand. Someone much smarter than me said “Smart people take difficult concepts and make them easy to understand.”

Unfortunately, you also see some material that does the opposite.  A few moments ago, I saw a proposed post for an EMS education group that I help manage.  The post was about a flowchart than an instructor developed for EMT students to assess and manage patients. Unfortunately, the flowchart was poorly laid out and looked more like a bad Microsoft Project diagram for IT project management.  I’d be surprised if the average EMT student could follow it, much less master it.  And if by some fluke they did, they’d be convinced that they had achieved some level of mastery of medicine. (Spoiler alert.  A lot of EMT training is based on the same stuff that our ancestors learned in Boy Scouts or from the green American Red Cross first aid book.)

Friends, whether you’re a new student in a first responder class or an experienced flight paramedic, EMS isn’t all that complex.  Let’s stop trying to make it complex.  For at least some of it, we make it complex so as to justify our ego and sense of self-importance.  The average EMS textbook is written at roughly a tenth-grade reading level.  That fact alone should bring you right back to Earth.

At all levels, prehospital care can be summed thus.  For trauma care: control the bleeding, protect the airway, and get the patient to an appropriate trauma facility.  For medicine: assess, diagnose, treat, and get the patient to the right hospital the first time to fix their problem.  If you can do those things, do two other things as well.  First, be nice.  Second, make the patient comfortable.  Both of these additional guidelines also apply to being nice to the patient’s family, bystanders, and other healthcare professionals.  The only variation between an entry level first responder and a flight nurse will be in the treatment options and assessment tools you have available to you.

EMS doesn’t have to be hard.  But if all of this is still too hard or complex to understand, I’ll leave you with some sage advice that I got from an experienced flight medic the day I got my paramedic certification. “If you don’t know what else to do, it’s a good idea to take the patient to the hospital.”

EMS.  No, it doesn’t have to be hard.

Another Volunteer Crisis

As sure as the day is long, we can count on the EMS news sites to do a post on the volunteer crisis in fire and EMS organizations. And EMS1 did its part yesterday. And of course, y'all know I have to comment.  So, let's do a rehash and … [Continue reading]

More on the Four Year EMS Degree

So, I'm thinking more about the push for an EMS degree. In theory, I think it's a great idea. But here's a couple of observations.   The "other countries have it" argument. Those other countries also have a national healthcare system where EMS is … [Continue reading]

On The EMS Degree

So, because of a prominent fire chief's article against EMS degrees, all of the usual EMS advocates are coming out for a gradual phase-in of a degree requirement. And it stands to reason that the fire service wants a low entry standard for EMS.  Most … [Continue reading]

Where To Fix EMS

We all know the problems with EMS.  Mostly they revolve around low pay, low standards, and unreliable sources of funding.  Easily fixed, right?  Well, maybe. But there's an ongoing problem in EMS. Most EMS systems operate under the belief that … [Continue reading]

The Social Media Medic

Social media is a wonderful thing.  It truly is.  For me, as both a paramedic and an attorney, it has been a godsend.  I've made a lot of friends that I'd have never known otherwise.  And, especially for medicine, it's exposed me to a lot of new … [Continue reading]

Why Doesn’t EMS Grow Up?

Social media is always full of EMS providers committing social media assisted career suicide (SMACS).  The latest was a perceived HIPAA violation where a medic was perceived to make fun of a cardiac arrest in a chicken coop, along with the associated … [Continue reading]

What does the patient/client want?

I'm trying to put some complex and jumbled thoughts into words here, so bear with me. As some of you may know, I've dealt a ton with health issues for various family members over the years, especially over the last few months. One thing that I've … [Continue reading]

“Dr. Dunning, I presume?” said Mr. Kruger.

An ongoing topic of discussion on EMS social media is the Dunning-Kruger Effect.  Wikipedia defines the Dunning-Kruger Effect as "a cognitive bias wherein people of low ability have illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their cognitive ability … [Continue reading]