I received quite a few e-mails—all supportive—after last month's column, "Apathy in EMS is Pathetic." It seems all is not lost. Although many of the e-mails lamented the same issues I detailed, there were quite a few that pointed out there are many in EMS who really care about the profession. Of note was the following post that was forwarded from an EMS medical director colleague in New York. It's pretty succinct and to the point:
"This is an urgent fyi to all prehospital providers and administrators about an impending plague that's rapidly spreading throughout our field. It has not yet been named, but it has symptoms of causing severe, childish anger and unprofessionalism that spills out on to public Web pages and Web sites, which causes EMS providers of all rank and certification levels to devour their neighboring agencies and their corps' own young.
If you've been noticing any of these symptoms—please contact a doctor immediately so they can schedule you to have your head removed from your most southern orifice … asap! People, we're in a job that causes us to work beside other agencies and EMS "professionals" daily. If we can't be grown up enough to deal with other agencies like professionals, then you're in the wrong line of work and need to get out now. Your unprofessionalism may seem to only be noticed on this Web page, but believe me, as I'm a reforming judgmental hate-monger myself, who's being helped to see the light by many true professionals, your words will spread across the region like a wildfire. Whether or not you want it to, it does reflect on your agency.
Each day solidifies what great mentors have told me as they strive to add value to each day spent in EMS; the positive actions of the group will always fall in the shadow to one inappropriate action, therefore tarnishing the reputation of the group and forcing our industry to take a step backward in our march of progress. Oh! Especially remember you're only as good as your next call and as poor as your last mistake.
I challenge any of the guilty parties I'm mentioning in this note to inform me when EMS stopped being about patient care first, foremost and always and turned into someone's personal agenda. When did EMS become complaints of who urinated in someone else's Wheaties first or who floated toward a bad call and treaded in someone else's district—maybe allowing the patient to have an opportunity, if it was needed, to have not one ALS provider working on them, but two.
Think of a time 20 or 30 years ago when it wasn't even possible to have that luxury afforded to you. Folks, we're in a period where most of our regions are filled with advanced personnel who would happily come aboard another agency's ambulance not for a billing opportunity but to assist you in your care. These providers will give you another set of eyes and ears to perhaps see something you may have forgotten or—God forbid—missed and give the patient a better chance of surviving scenarios they couldn't have survived 20 years ago.
I'll finish my rant by stating I don't care what agency I'm working for or what time it is. I will come help you as a fellow provider, regardless of what patch you wear or the writing on the side of your $100,000 taxi. If need be, I could care less about billing the call, because to me, patient care comes first and always will.
To those who are guilty of carrying this plague I speak of, I hope you come to your senses. Do the same and stop the hate. If not, I hope you choose another career path and leave EMS so progressive thinking and top-notch patient care isn't threatened by your narrow-minded thinking and personal agenda."
—Charles Drollette, CC-EMTP