Working Professionally with Local Government - Administration and Leadership - @ JEMS.com


Working Professionally with Local Government

 

 
 
 

Gary Ludwig, MS, EMT-P | From the June 2014 Issue | Thursday, May 29, 2014


Working with elected officials who don’t have an EMS background can be difficult.

I recently got a call from an EMS manager friend who shares my sentiment. He’d attended a city council meeting the night before—it was supposed to be an ordinary council meeting, but instead he felt one of the councilpersons turned it into an inquisition about the EMS system.

Armed with statistics and cut-and-paste material from the Internet about other EMS systems, the councilperson—who’d been in office for about six months—went slightly off the agenda and began a systemic dissection of the EMS system, speaking out where he thought it should be performing better.

On the issue of finances, the councilperson didn’t comprehend why, if you bill Medicare $700, Medicare doesn’t pay $700. “I don’t understand why we aren’t being paid for a service we’ve provided,” said the councilperson. He felt there were inadequacies and problems with the way the EMS system was billing and collecting funds.

“What do you mean we only have 57% collection rate? If I ran my business that way I’d out of business before the end of the week!”

The other councilpersons remained silent during the haranguing and some even tried to move the agenda along, but the newly elected councilperson was not giving up his questioning.

To get a better picture, I asked my friend a series of questions how the council person acts when not in a public setting. My friend told me he was very cordial in private, but in a public environment he appeared to be an attack dog on a mission. I next asked my friend if he thought the councilperson had some personal agenda, like to run him off. My friend didn’t think so but he really didn’t know what was driving the councilperson since he didn’t attack other the city’s other managers in the same way.

First, I told him not to take it personally. It might sound personal, but the fact the councilperson acts cordial in a private setting leads me to believe his motives aren’t personal. Perhaps he’s using his position as a bully pulpit to demonstrate that he’s a good steward of the finances of the community.

I told my friend to be well-prepared for the next council meeting. Go in with all your data, monthly reports and statistical information that can’t be refuted. And if he doesn’t have it, explain he can get it as soon as possible.

I suggested to my friend that maybe he have a private one-on-one meeting with the councilperson and bring all his data, monthly reports and statistics to explain his EMS system and how it functions. He should answer all the councilperson’s questions and be prepared to find out the answers to ones he doesn’t know.

If possible, get another influential councilperson to act as a mediator. This way, attacks can be prevented.

Above all, I advised him to remain professional in council meetings. Just because the councilperson acted borderline unprofessional, it won’t help the situation if he acted the same way. Remain above the fray.

We live in a democracy, and the councilperson was elected by the people—he’s their representative until someone else is elected. So, like it or not, my friend must respect the person and the position and provide respect to the office at
all times.

If you act professional and respect the position, you’ll gain allies without even trying.

Take every opportunity you can to educate elected officials on the successes of your EMS system and there will be less for them to criticize.

I’ve had my share of elected officials over the years who’ve been difficult, but find that respect and professionalism go a long way.

Mobile Category: 
Administration and Leadership



Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: Administration and Leadership, Leadership and Professionalism, professionalism, local government, ems leaders, city council, allies, Jems Leadership Sector

 
Author Thumb

Gary Ludwig, MS, EMT-P

Gary Ludwig, MS, EMT-P, is a well-known author, lecturer and consultant who has successfully managed two large award-winning metropolitan fire-based EMS systems. He has 37 years of fire, rescue and EMS experience and has been a paramedic for over 35 years. He’s also past chair of the EMS section for the International Association of Fire Chiefs and has a master’s degree in management and business. He can be reached at www.garyludwig.com.

BROWSE FULL BIO & ARTICLES >

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Buyer's Guide Featured Companies

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Improving Survival from Cardiac Arrest Using ACD-CPR + ITD

Using active compression-decompression CPR with an ITD has been shown to improve 1-year survival from cardiac arrest by 33%.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

California Firefighters save Man on Flight

Patient was conscious and talking when United flight landed.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Over Half of Seattle Fire Stations Test Positive for MRSA

Surprisingly high results come from test kits based on earlier study.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

AMR Crew Rescues Mississippi Driver from Fiery Crash

Rescue during crash in Jackson is caught on video.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Hands On February 2015

Here’s a look at this month’s product hands on.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Nightwatch Series Premiere Party

JEMS Editor-in-Chief A.J. Heightman attends the series premiere of A&E's new reality show, "Nightwatch."
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Ottawa Chemical Investigation

Chemicals and suspicious package are probed at two locations
More >


Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
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 >