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.


  1. You’ve made an error. You’ve implied that an EMT actually read a statute (do they even know where to find them??). It’s really “some bad educator misquoted a statute that some EMT misremembered.” And THAT is why AmbulanceChaser teaches my students about medical-legal EMS stuff. At least they get accurate information and I’m not the one being misquoted (anymore). What they do with it… well… I can’t speak for that.

  2. (To those of you EMT’s who DO know where to find statutes AND have read them, I’d love to meet you. I think we could be friends).

  3. Steve Pike says:

    I’ve never been to law school, but I stayed at a holiday inn express last night. John Roberts calls me with his questions.

  4. I’m also an EMT/Attorney and work in a legal area that requires a decent amount of medical knowledge. In my experience I’d say the legal knowledge of EMTs (of issues that relate to EMS) is better than the medical knowledge of lawyers…

  5. Colleen Heinsohn says:

    Are you teaching again this year at EMS Conference? Texas EMS Conference?

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