What’s in a Name?
This month, the September JEMS feature article by Debra Cason, MS, RN, EMT-P, & Kathy Robinson, RN, EMT-P that discusses the upcoming changes to the EMS profession and how they’ll affect your agency (“EMS Agenda Changes Will Affect You”) stirs a dialogue among readers. Are these shifts merely a matter of semantics, or will they have a direct influence on the way you perform your job?
After watching the recent updates regarding the upcoming changes to EMS, which will be mandated in 2013, I felt compelled to offer some viewpoints regarding “rural” EMS. The need for continuity across the country would seem to be a logical change for EMS. However, how and why the new “minimum” capabilities were arrived at on a national level does make me wonder.
In 1994, EMS instructors had to attend a “rollout” in the attempt to standardize EMS levels throughout the country. In the past 17 years, many EMS systems added medications included in the 1994 curriculum and then some. However, the “new” EMS agenda for the future reduces the medications and capabilities at the EMT level to less than the current capabilities for many providers.
As for the EMT-Intermediate level, some states never had an “intermediate” level. In fact, more states had the EMT-I99 (or equivalent) than the original EMT-I85 level. Yet, at the national level, the new EMT-Advanced level actually goes back to a curriculum much closer to that of the EMT-I85 curriculum, which is, in essence, going back 26 years.
It’s also been mentioned that too many EMS providers aren’t proficient in their skills. Although this may be true in some areas, surely a large part of the blame would lie with the individual resource hospitals, project medical directors and EMS coordinators who have dropped the ball.
I’m sorry to say this, but we’ll always be known as ambulance drivers. The public won’t get it now or ever, and the nurses in the hospital will use that term even if they know it’s not appropriate because they know it bugs us. I’m glad to see the changes; they’ve been long overdue. But the public will never get it. I’ve been in EMS for 25 years, and never once outside the hospital did the public think I was an EMT. I often get mistaken for a security guard or police officer.
In my opinion, the nurses could care less about us, and it seems to me that they like to call us anything but who we are. For 25 years, I’ve been asked “do you have oxygen?” and “do you know how to use it?”
“Ambulance driver” is easier than remembering all the titles we have in EMS, and just when others do get used to knowing who and what we are, we change the titles. If your uniform looks like a security guard or police officer, what do you expect? The blue or white shirts with dark trousers are similar to the others. If you count the number of times some EMTs have forgotten to check their tanks, I think nurses might be justified in asking if they have oxygen.
Driving an ambulance is probably one of the most important parts of the job. When a paramedic is driving, they should focus on being the very best ambulance driver possible—not concerned that someone might call them an ambulance driver.
As an RN, I wish I could apologize for all of the rude RNs out there who treat EMS providers with disrespect. These RNs are in need of education to help them understand what EMS personnel do. (It should be mandatory for RN students to spend a shift doing ride-alongs). I personally have appreciated everything EMS providers have done for my patients.
As an EMT-B and a paramedic student, I often get caught in the crossfire coming from the emergency department staff (mostly RNs), and it makes me angry. I’m working just as hard to complete my paramedic classes as I did my nursing classes. It’s not easy stuff, by any means.
Let’s all work together as a team, shall we?
A May 2011 EMS Insider article by Teresa McCallion, EMT-B (“Ambulance Companies Change Hands”) requires some clarification regarding Care Ambulance Services, Inc., a Falck USA company, and its recent acquisitions in the U.S.
Falck does not directly or indirectly own any interest in Wackenhut Services. Although Falck did own interest in Wackenhut in 2002, the company was fully divested in 2003. Falck does not own Wackenhut and has no plans to provide firefighting services in the U.S.
An article in the Priority Traffic section of October JEMS (“Lead EMS Federal Agency Discussions Continue”) contained an error. The American Ambulance Association—not Advocates for EMS—supports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as the lead federal agency. Advocates for EMS has recommended the Department of Health and Human Services as the lead federal agency for EMS. We regret the error. JEMS
This article originally appeared in December 2011 JEMS as “Letters.”