About That License

I get it.  Becoming an EMT is a big accomplishment for many, even including me years ago.  It was pretty cool to know about things and do things that the “rest of us” don’t get to do.  And the same is true if and when you make the jump to paramedic.  You might even get some neat t-shirts to flaunt that you’re an EMT or a paramedic — and especially proud of it.  The really neat part is that your state gives you a piece of paper or plastic that identifies you as an EMT or paramedic, which means you’re “officially” able to do EMS things.

I have another card in my wallet as well.  It’s my card from the State Bar of Texas that identifies me as a Texas attorney.  It means that I get to do things that others can’t do.  It’s a bit of a long road to get one of these cards.  It takes a four year undergraduate degree followed by three years of law school.  Then, the licensing exam.  It’s a two and a half day exam, given only twice a year.  And it means I get to give legal advice and represent (and counsel) clients about the law.   When you learn the law, you learn that few things are in a vacuum.  A statute alone means very little.  You need to look at the definitions that might be found in other places.  You need to look for relevant court cases applying the statute.  You need to look for regulations implementing that statute. And then you figure out how all of these things apply to the facts of your client’s case.

So, when as an EMT or paramedic with the benefit of a four hour medical legal lecture that was read by another EMT or paramedic who’s not an attorney and the slides were prepared by the textbook feels that they know the law enough to read a statute back to me and claim that’s what the law is, I do get a bit offended.  In my world, that’s the same as some attorney who’s not a paramedic hooking someone up to an IV because they saw a YouTube video.   Just like there’s more to being an EMT or paramedic than knowing how to do some random skill(s), there’s more to being an attorney than reading back a statute.  That’s why it takes a while to become a lawyer.

And that, my friends, is why I get offended when some EMT feels that they know what I know based solely on reading a statute and misinforming their colleagues.

In conclusion, I’m incredibly proud to be trusted by my state as both a paramedic and an attorney.  And I will continue to protect both of my professional identities from those who haven’t been admitted to practice in either profession.

If We’re Truly Doing Everything Doctors Do, But At 80 Miles An Hour

Look around the EMS social media world for any period of time and you’ll see a bunch of worn-out clichés.  One of the more popular ones is “We do everything a doctor does, but at 80 miles an hour.”

Ok.  I’ll accept your cliché.  And being a betting type, I’ll raise you one.  Let’s assume and accept that we, as EMS providers, are practicing medicine — because we are.  And we’re even diagnosing patients.  (Let that one sink in for a moment.  I’ll wait.)

Ok, you’re back.  So, yes, we’ve accepted the position that EMS providers are practicing medicine.  That means we’re getting a medical education as well, right?  And said medical education, regardless of how and where it’s delivered, should be at a level above high school, shouldn’t it?

You’re darned right it should be.  As I’ve mentioned in the past, for the paramedic provider, we’re trying to condense the critical parts of a bachelor’s degree, medical school, and an emergency medicine residency into, at best, a two year program.  That means there’s a lot of knowledge coming at students quickly.

Yet, of all of the education programs out there, EMS education seems to operate on the open enrollment model.  Did your check clear?  You too can try to become an EMT or a paramedic.

When we accept students who can’t express themselves in the English language, do simple mathematics, or have a rudimentary knowledge of the basic sciences of biology and chemistry, it should be little surprise that the course completion rates and National Registry exam passage rates are abysmal.  It should be little surprise that EMS students are constantly posting questions about examination and certification processes that could be discovered with a simple Google search. And it should be even less of a surprise that EMS doesn’t receive the recognition and respect that other allied health professions earn.

If we want EMS to be treated as a profession, maybe it’s time to enforce some entrance requirements.  Not everyone gets to be an astronaut or a starting NFL quarterback.  Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to say that you don’t get to play doctor in the back of an ambulance unless you have some minimum academic credentials.

We make a difference.

Everyone hears the propaganda about how EMS makes a difference.  Some of it might even be true.  I've had a few calls in my career where I'm at least somewhat convinced that having trained EMS providers on scene made some difference for the patient.  … [Continue reading]

Think Nationally. Act Locally.

There are a lot of new ideas floating around EMS these days.  Compact licensure for EMTs and paramedics just like nurses already have.  Community paramedicine.  New educational standards.  And the list goes on. Here's why many of these … [Continue reading]

Negligence for Dummies

Ok, I've adapted this lesson from a Facebook post I've made, but I've given some thought to explaining some legal concepts that impact EMS and this is my first effort.  Please let me know if this is helpful and if you'd like to see other legal topics … [Continue reading]

Clickbait for you. Frustration for me.

Right now, the EMS social media is abuzz with a piece of so-called religious rights legislation that's passed the Michigan House of Representatives.  In short, the legislation allows for a person to claim a religious exemption from other laws that … [Continue reading]

Not nice. Politically incorrect. And probably true.

The biggest problem with the average EMT education program is that it seems to create a false sense of smug competence in that 120-160 hours of vocational training deems you competent to function as a medical professional. The real learning and … [Continue reading]

I am not a hero

In my "real" job, I'm sure as heck not a hero.  Reviewing contracts just doesn't save a lot of lives. When I'm at my "fun" job on the ambulance, it's not heroism either.  It's doing something I'm passionate about.  It's the pride, honor, … [Continue reading]

Dear NAEMT

Hey there, it's The Ambulance Chaser. Recently, a friend of mine asked why he should renew his NAEMT membership.  I had to think for a minute.  Then I thought for several more minutes. Finally, I told him I maintain my NAEMT membership because I'm … [Continue reading]

Butthurt

Butthurt seems to be the dismissive phrase that people use whenever people get offended by their post(s) on social media, especially if the offense is rightly justified. It takes a lot to make me "butthurt."  Anyone who knows me in real life knows … [Continue reading]