A Thank You Goes a Long Way

There, didn’t that feel good?



Thom Dick | From the April 2010 Issue | Wednesday, April 28, 2010

There’s an Arby’s restaurant in our service area, whose manager routinely gives EMS crews price breaks on their orders. There’s a Chick Fil-A sandwich shop that gives uniformed EMTs a whopping 50-percent discount, no matter what they order. And there’s an oil-change outlet—Grease Monkey—that will drain and replace your car’s oil for you, hot engine and all, while you wait. They change our oil and filters for free in about 15 minutes, while our crews wait. Grease Monkey’s people are always nice, and they always thank  us for coming in. 

A Ford 7.3-liter diesel engine has an oil capacity of 12–15 quarts. In a year, that can add up to a lot of money—even for a small fleet. Of course, we have a regular shop, EVMARS in Denver, that does our preventive maintenance (other than those oil changes). We pay them for their work, but I wish I could tell you how good they are, year after year, at making our crews feel safe.

Have you ever sat down for breakfast at a restaurant and gotten a call just as they were serving your food! Duh! Of course you have. If you returned after the call, did they move you to the front of their line and fix you a fresh order, for free? That happens here too, and in lots of towns all over the world. One of the first things you can’t help learning as a new EMT is which food places treat you that way. 

Have you ever gone to people who do those kinds of things, and told them how much you appreciate what they do for you? I don’t mean just while they’re serving you. Most of us are polite enough to do that, especially when we’re hungry. I mean, just out of the blue, off duty and in or out of uniform, walk into their store and thank them for what they do for you—preferably in front of their other customers.

If you’re a parent, I’m thinking you know how hard it is to teach a child "good manners." We’ve all heard of decency and politeness—at least, those of us who aren’t political radio talk show hosts. Most of us have our own ideas about the meanings of those terms, but they almost always include please and thank you, don’t they?

If anybody should have a feel for the importance of ordinary gratitude, I would think it’s an EMT. Even if you’ve only been on the street for three weeks, you’ve surely gone without thanks when it would have been appropriate. If you’ve been there for six months, you know what it feels like to bust a gut trying to help somebody and then have them spit at you in return, or maybe call your mom something awful. Thanks would have been so much nicer, right?

We all hear plenty about tragic events and nasty people; they seem to get all the headlines today. Whether it’s about falling home prices, disasters in faraway places, plane crashes or joblessness; be they murderers, cheaters, phonies, crooked leaders or professional athletes who confuse their talent with their importance, reading the news for 30 minutes is enough to spoil your taste for even the best cup of coffee. (OK, almost.)

Thanks is more important today than ever. You know all those small businesses where people are treating you so well? Well, this recession is hitting them hard, and they’re struggling to stay in business. Struggling to make payroll, and pay their mortgages. Struggling just like we are, to understand what’s happening to the world around them. Maybe even struggling in their personal relationships. Struggling in all those ways, and still managing to treat you as though they think you’re somebody special. 

Of course, you are, Life-Saver. Special, I mean. But the world is full of people who serve you, and right now it’s really important for at least a few of them to be reminded once in awhile that somebody appreciates what they do. It’d be so easy. (While you’re at it, don’t forget your first responders. A lot of them do what they do for free, and rarely hear a word of appreciation from anybody.)

You can’t fix the world, all by yourself. But you can make some things just a little better, can’t you?

You, and this editor of mine. JEMS

Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: Administration and Leadership, Leadership and Professionalism, Jems Tricks of the Trade

Author Thumb

Thom Dick

has been involved in EMS for 43 years, 23 of them as a full-time EMT and paramedic in San Diego County. He's currently the quality care coordinator for Platte Valley Ambulance, a hospital-based 9-1-1 system in Brighton, Colo. Contact him at boxcar_414@comcast.net.


What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS


Get JEMS in Your Inbox


Fire EMS Blogs

Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts


EMS Airway Clinic

Innovation & Progress

Follow in the footsteps of these inspirational leaders of EMS.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Four Killed in New Mexico Medical Plane Crash

Crash near fairgrounds claims patient and crew of three.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

Texas Ambulance Involved in Crash

Odessa ambulance and car collide during response.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

Las Vegas Fire, AMR Reach New Deal

Tentative agreement reached over ambulance calls.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

Fire Damages Several Homes in California Earthquake

Four homes destroyed and others damaged after quake rattles Napa.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

New Mexico Air Ambulance Crash

NTSB investigates crash that killed four.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Where in the World of EMS is A.J.? Scranton

JEMS Editor-in-Chief visits his hometown of Scranton, Pa.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Over 100 Injured in California Earthquake

172 patients treated at Napa hospital after 6.0-magnitude earthquake.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >

More Product Videos >