Charity Begins At Home

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.

A Note Of Optimism

I’ve been away from the blog a bit, mainly as a result of some writer’s block.  With an upcoming trip to the Texas EMS Conference to speak (Tuesday, November 22 at 2:00 PM, by the way) and to get some continuing education, I’m more rejuvenated about EMS than usual.  And then, tonight, I heard from a dear friend of mine who works for a large, urban third-service EMS system in Texas.

She proceeded to tell me about her patient earlier this evening (without violating patient confidentiality), while working a high-volume truck in the inner city.  Her patient needed to go to the hospital for treatment of an illness that had been lingering for a long time.  She made arrangements to have all of the patients’ belongings moved as that was one of his objections to getting care.  She then administered pain medicine because “that looked like it <expletive> hurt.”

Honestly, it’s what we’re supposed to do.  But a lot of us miss the mark.  But ultimately, she took care of a patient, got them to care, addressed their pain, and gave them a bit of dignity.  Stories like this don’t make the news.  They don’t make great t-shirt slogans.  But taking care of the least among us is exactly what EMS is supposed to be all about.  Things like this remind me why it’s a privilege to be a medic and why it’s truly a sacred honor to take care of patients.

I’m not a Bible verse kind of guy, but her patient care tonight reminds me of this verse, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”  And ultimately, that’s the standard we should strive for as medics, as public servants, as caregivers, and as human beings.

Enthusiasm

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A Media Time-Out

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Mental Health

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Your Internship in EMS

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The Quest for Balance in EMS Social Media

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Thinking About EMS Education

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The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations

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Have you ever noticed….?

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