OK, baby boomer medics, it's time. Time to be honest with ourselves and face the inescapable, irreversible truthƒdespite the best surgeons, diet plans, exercise, medications and denial, our bodies are beginning to wear out, spread out and even fall out. The writing is on the spine, folks: ˙Warranty about to expire.Ó And if you've been in EMS for 25 years, then you probably have the body of Yoda and the attitude of Eeyore on Valium.
Our once-dominant, post-World War II generation is only a stone's throw from once again wearing the same disposable clothing we wore as infants. (May I suggest you start stashing away chucks from the EMS supply room?) And even if you don't admit you're one shuffle step away from the scooter store, the younger generation will remind you. They'll offer to break open the seals of chemical ice packs so you don't strain yourself, write down your level of training as NREMT-P AARP, refuse to lend their stethoscope to anyone who has hair sprouting from their ears and ask to borrow an elder medic's dentures to enhance the airway seal for the patient receiving BVM ventilations.
˙These young punk medics have no respect. They're lazy and they whine a lot. They want everything right now. There's no appreciation for the sacrifices or history of EMS.Ó I've been hearing these statements a lot lately from some of my peers. That right there, folks, is the coup de gras of ˙old person speaking.Ó
It bothers me to hear such intolerant remarks coming from my formerly free-spirited, accepting brethren and sisteren (sisteren is an accepted word if you're still open-minded and accepting) who once thrived on conflict, rebellion and Oreo cookies. Isn't the primary responsibility of each generation to irritate the living %$#! out of the preceding one? Baby boomersset the standard for whining and self-absorption.
˙Yeah, but we just had bell bottoms and long hair. They've gone too far with all these tattoos, body piercings and hair styled by a wind-making machine.Ó My comeback is simple: We had Ozzie and Harriet, and we gave them Ozzy Osbourneƒnuf said.
˙Okay, but they seem to have no passion for anything, no goals.Ó First of all, who's making these comments? Oh yeah, I am. (There was obviously more than just a creamy white filling inside those Oreos.) OK, focus. Every generation wants to leave their mark, and the youth of today are no different. While we're loading ourselves up with Cyalis, the new generation is suffering from generational performance anxiety. They feel ignored by their predecessors. And let's face it, baby boomers have this overbearing tendency to make themselves society's primary concern.
˙But the new generation is too independent and has no sense of loyalty.ÓSteve, Steve, Steve. These kids grew up as latchkey kids. They've had to learn to be independent, and they've witnessed from their parents' careers that employer longevity is a thing of the past.
˙But they have this Âlive for today' attitude.Ó Growing up with the Oklahoma City bombing, the Columbine shooting, 9/11 and ongoing school incidents as a backdrop, death has hit closer to home. So what if they take on an attitude ofworking to live and notliving to work? Personally, I respect that.
˙So why do they need such constant praise?Ó Maybe because we as parents put a camcorder in their little millennial faces the day they were born and celebrated every mediocre event they ever took part in thereafter. When children are told they're special, then by God, they're going to expect to keep hearing it. The good news is they're responsive to feedback much more than we ever were to our parents. Except when it comes to taking out the trash Ú keeping their rooms clean Ú doing their homework Ú
I should have wrapped up this article several paragraphs ago, but what can I say? I'm still a non-conformist rebel. But I do want to end this with something that may upset a few of you EMS lifers out thereƒAre you ready? Here it goes: It's time to let Johnny and Roy go. That's right. You read me. We had our heroes, and they served us well, but we can't expect the new generation to embrace the same passionate characters that drew us into the field. Developing the future family of EMS means giving the next generation an opportunity to hang with people they identify with.
Who will those new heroes be? I'm not sure but we need to let go of our own midlife EMS crisis and pass the torch with respect and dignity. We still need your enthusiastic voice and experience to mentor our budding EMS youth, but to those who just want to be left alone on the couch between calls until retirement, you need to sincerely consider hanging up your stethoscope sooner than later. The millennial generation will embrace our message if we justlisten, teach andshare our Oreos with them. Now excuse me while I go inject some WD-40 into my squeaky knees.
Until next time, be safe.
Steve Berry has been a paramedic for the past 20 years in the Colorado Springs area. He's the author of the EMS cartoon book seriesI'm Notan Ambulance Driver. Visit his Web site atwww.iamnotanambulancedriver.com to purchase his books.