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From the April 2008 Issue | Monday, November 17, 2008


Regina Meyers, resident of a Kaplan, La., nursing home, had only one wish for her 100th birthday: She wanted to dance with the paramedic who had held her hand, sang to her and prayed with her as an ambulance transported her to a hospital several months earlier. Acadian Ambulance Service tracked down Auldon Robinson, who came to the party and danced with the guest of honor. Robinson's wife and four children came, too, bringing musical instruments to accompany him as he sang to Meyers. Now that's great patient care!

Memphis FD Welcomes New Hires in Style

Starting a new job is stressful. Moving is stressful. Moving your family several hundred miles to a new job isreallystressful. The Memphis (Tenn.) Fire Department (MFD) tries to help its new hires avoid much of that stress.

MFD, which has recently hired many new EMTs and paramedics, started the ˙Ambassador ProgramÓ to assist newcomers to the department. Deputy Fire Chief Gary Ludwig notes that the January MFD recruit class included about 45 paramedics, most from outside the Memphis area. They're coming from Ohio, Georgia, Michigan, Kentucky, Mississippi and Rhode Island.

Instructor Coordinator Lt. Don Mosby, who oversees the program, says Ludwig brought up the idea at a meeting held to discuss how to make the transition for new hires as easy as possible. Mosby invited MFD employees to volunteer as ambassadors to contact new hires and help them acclimate to the Memphis area. He now has a list of about 20 ambassadors and assigns each of them three or four people to help.

The ambassadors make contact before the new hires even arrive. ˙I can't say enough about these folks,Ó Mosby says. ˙They make the phone calls and spend their own time.Ó Ambassadors come to him with questions they can't answer, and he has now compiled a list of answers to frequently asked questions for easy reference.

Stanley Bey recently moved from Michigan with his wife and four children. He's a paramedic with 10 years' experience, but he still had questions unrelated to his new EMS job. For example, he wanted to know where to get a driver's license and how to get his car inspected so he could get Tennessee tags. His ambassador helped Bey with his reciprocity report and told him about doctors in townƒvaluable information for someone with four kids. The ambassador also took several recruits and their significant others out to dinner.

Daniel Atlas, an EMT who moved from Columbus, Ohio, was completely taken by surprise when his ambassador called to welcome him to the department. ˙She told me about Craig's list,Ó he says. That's valuable information for a young, single guy trying to furnish an apartment.

Everyone we interviewed was enthusiastic about MFD's Ambassador Program. ˙Chief Ludwig seems to have a vision and knows how to make it work,Ó Mosby says. Thumbs Up to him and to the MFD for going that extra mile to make newcomers feel welcome and valued.

Laptop Goes Missing

More than 3,400 current and former first responders, EMTs and paramedics (paid and volunteer) of Wake County (N.C.) EMS were shocked to learn an agency laptop that disappeared from a Raleigh, N.C., emergency department in January contained their names, addresses and social security numbers (as well as such information on 1,188 patients). ˙Even if your software calls for entering social security numbers and dates of birth, don't,Ó cautions Wake County EMS Chief Skip Kirkwood. ˙Ours did in 2002 when it was purchased.Ó Wake County has agreed to pay for identity-theft protection for everyone involved, which adds up to an expensive lesson.

$5 Buys Millions in Bad Press

An overzealous receptionist for a physicians' group collected $5ƒplus negative media coverageƒwhen she ran after an EMS gurney to collect a patient's co-pay. An ambulance had been called to the physicians' office in Sunnyside, N.Y., after an ECG showed a 76-year-old woman had suffered a heart attack, according to theStaten Island Advance. The paramedics waited while the patient fumbled in her purse to find the $5. The paper reported that the patient recovered. The receptionist, however, may not have been so lucky.

True EMS Horrors

Men's Healthrecently posted a notice online soliciting EMS horror stories. ˙Have you waitedƒand waitedƒfor an ambulance to arrive? Have youƒor someone you knowƒhad less than stellar care from an [EMT] or paramedic when they did arrive? Have you had the misfortune to be in an ambulance when it crashed?Ó the magazine asked. EMTs and paramedics responded with some questions of their own, for example: ˙What possible good can result from an article specifically created to tear down people who dedicate themselves to helping others?Ó and ˙IfMen's Healthwants to do a story on EMS, how about focusing on ways to eat healthy in a job with no dedicated meal breaks?Ó and ˙Why don't you ask about the cities and towns [that] cut budgets and leave EMT crews in short supply?Ó and ˙Why not look beyond the easy reporting of complaints and help to find solutions to the problems that EMS professionals face?Ó Those are some good questions,Men's Health!

Rich but Ragged

The three highest-paid city employees of Pittsburgh in 2007 were paramedics, according to thePittsburgh Post-Gazette.The Pittsburgh EMS Bureau once had 200 field providers, but laid off 21 EMTs in 2003 and now has only 154 EMTs and paramedics. The result is tons of overtime for the remaining medics. Although we enjoy knowing some paramedics make upwards of $130,000, we worry that someone who works 80 hours a weekƒin Pittsburgh or in another system that relies on EMS overtimeƒmight fall asleep at the wheel or make errors in patient care. And what about time for self-care, family and enjoying life?




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