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, integrity, and dare I say, the compassion of providing medical care to people in the worst moments.  (Let’s face it, even if we consider it “BS,” it’s still the worst thing in our patient’s day.)  I walk into houses, businesses, and the street and see humanity at its worst.

I’m hanging out at the Texas EMS Conference this week, learning new things, renewing friendships, and making new friends.  Watching a British paramedic experiencing Texas for the first time is rather funny at times.  Driving through the Fort Worth Stockyards listening to George Strait while you explain the history of our country, our state, and the “Old West” is a perfect way to remind yourself of how special these moments are.  EMS, fire, law enforcement, and emergency medicine creates a special bond and kinship between all of us.

But allow me to digress here into the really serious current events of the day.  Ferguson, Missouri.  I’ve had a few friends who aren’t in public safety or medicine post some pretty snarky comments on Facebook about the grand jury decision, Officer Darren Wilson, and/or law enforcement in general. I won’t hector or lecture you.  All I ask is that you try to be as compassionate to your public servants as you are to the thug culture, the “oppressed” who aren’t really oppressed, the criminal underclass, and the looters.  Take it from someone who sees more than Instagram shots of the Mike Browns and Leslie Cochrans of the world — crime, homelessness, and the drug culture aren’t hip, cool, or funny.  They’re a one-way ticket to self-destruction.

You have a right to those opinions.  The “uncool” people that you mock protect your rights to be hip, liberal, and oh so cool. Me?  I have the right to unfriend you.

Thanks for listening.  I’ll try to be funnier in the next blog.

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 affiliate faculty for one of your continuing education programs and because membership provides me a significant discount on EMS Expo (Every other year in Las Vegas – yes please!).   Another person mentioned the 5.11 clothing discount.

What nobody mentioned was NAEMT’s advocacy for the profession.  Why?  Rightly or wrongly, it’s because a lot of us in the field see NAEMT and its leadership as a self-perpetuating good old boys club advocating for its pet causes.

Some of you who know me away from my blog know that I’ve been in state government for over ten years as an attorney and that I’ve previously been legislative staff here in the Lone Star State and have even worked in political campaigns.   When have I seen or met with a representative from NAEMT or any state affiliate (by the way, Texas no longer has a state organization affiliated with NAEMT)?  NEVER.

What do I see from NAEMT for advocacy?  Ham-handed attempts at influencing Congress.  The EMS Field Bill is a useless attempt at finding another source of money for certain EMS agencies that already excel at writing grant applications.  EMS on the Hill Day is, while well-meaning, just another opportunity for certain EMS leaders to wear full dress uniforms that look like a cross between the Knights of Columbus, Captain Crunch, and a Turkish admiral.

Right now, there’s a discussion on the Texas EMS email list about a Texas Board of Nursing administrative rule that’s been interpreted and applied so as to prevent EMS providers from functioning at their certification level in the emergency room.  How does this happen?  Quite simply.  The nursing profession is organized and knows how to get things done politically.  Our supposed “voice for our profession” is way too quiet in the Texas state capitol.  I’m willing to bet you that the other 49 state capitols aren’t being visited by NAEMT either.

So, NAEMT, here’s the deal.  I’m going to keep my membership up.  I want to go to Vegas cheaper (who doesn’t?). I want my continuing education classes, although it’s a damned shame that we have to rely on so much continuing education to make up for the gaps in our initial education.  And yes, I occasionally want some discounted clothing.

But since I’m a member, I’m going to continue to speak out.  And I’m going to keep asking when you’re going to step up for our profession in a meaningful way.  Self congratulatory photos and press releases mentioning the same old names just aren’t going to cut it forever.

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]

Not Everyone Gets a Trophy — or a Patch

No matter what your view is on what constitutes a "legitimate" request for an EMS response, we all agree (or in theory, should agree) that a patient calling 911 is experiencing a bad day. Even the lowest acuity call deserves a response from an … [Continue reading]

Ten years in

This month celebrates my tenth year in EMS, first as an EMT and now as a paramedic.  (This doesn't count for the several years I spent as an untrained observer annoying the living daylights out of Lubbock EMS and Austin/Travis County EMS.  Nor does … [Continue reading]

(Another) reason why EMS isn’t taken seriously

EMS providers love to claim that "EMS isn't taken seriously" by you-name-the-other-healthcare-profession.  And we're right.  We rarely are taken seriously.  I've complained before about some of the reasons why.  (See also: T-shirts with flaming … [Continue reading]

Things that make no sense in EMS

1) EMTs and paramedics are constantly told "We don't want you to know how billing works because we don't want you to let finances influence a decision to transport a patient."  Makes sense.  But then we're told, "If you don't document this chart … [Continue reading]

Monday morning thoughts

Just a couple of random thoughts to get your Monday morning started.   1) In EMS, we're constantly making noise about going beyond blindly parroting and following protocols, but we continually apply the cookie cutter mindset to any legal … [Continue reading]

Some reasoned justifications in favor of jet fuel and flight suits

In the EMS world, it's become almost fashionable to question the need for helicopter-based EMS (HEMS).   I personally believe that HEMS has been overutilized on occasion, probably even by me.  (I have a lovely snark-gram from the QA gremlin about … [Continue reading]

Ice Buckets

As a conservative/libertarian type, I'm in favor of individual charity rather than the enforced charity that the IRS collects every April 15.   As such, any giving to charity should be encouraged and celebrated, both for individual self-worth and the … [Continue reading]