It’s that time of year again, where everyone thanks EMS professionals for the service they provide. The one week a year you get when not every nurse greets you with a scowl. Not all is well in EMS though, some people believe that we need to actually make improvements in the system, improvements in reimbursment, and improvements in professionalism.
The Fossil Medic has two excellent posts about his thoughts, Is EMS Really a Calling? , and How EMS physicians Became Recognized and Rewarded. Go read them both, especially Skip Kirkwood’s comment on ‘Is EMS really a calling?’
Bob Sullivan over at The EMS Patient Perspective also had some thoughts in his post, EMS: Calling, Job, or Prison Sentence?
I’ll get my opinion out of the way, regrading these “National Week” type events. I understand that it is suppose to raise awareness and appreciation for the EMS professionals (wouldn’t it be easier if I could just say paramedics?). I don’t buy in to the hype. Emergency Service workers should always be appreciated, not just once a year. It is the same way with fire fighters, (yes I mentioned fire fighters in an EMS post). During the Sept. 11 memorials, they are revered. The next day they are just in the way, or harrassing the public with their inspections (I have been told that by business owners in the past). Appreciate the people who choose to risk their lives for yours every day, not just when you need them.
Professionalism. Skip Kirkwood continuously brings up this topic, and rightly so, about advancing EMS. Some people like to lay partial blame on EMS volunteers, saying that they are keeping our pay scales low. There are far more volunteer firefighters in the U.S. than paid firefighters. I don’t see firefighter salaries as low as EMS salaries. I seriously doubt the problem is with volunteers.
If you are looking to point the finger for all the woes of EMS, turn the finger around and point it at yourself. What are you doing to advance the image of EMS? What actions are you taking? How’s you attitude lately? How is your partner’s attitude? Do you dress like a professional, or insist on wearing a tee shirt on duty? Do you attend as many EMS conferences as you can? Are you working towards a degree? Are you doing anything to improve your medical knowledge and patient care?
Stop trying to place the blame on everyone else. You want to celebrate EMS week this year, start by BEING the person who people will call a professional. Attitudes are infectious, having a positive one will raise the people around you.