David S. Becker
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Remember when your friends and foes would dare you to do something as a child? Most of the time, it was something you weren t supposed to do or say. Whether you accepted the challenge depended on a balance of the level of risk and a need to prove yourself. The dares were often harmless fun, thought up to see how far you d go before getting into serious trouble. Starting from small tests, they could easily evolve into wild stunts almost to the point of being illegal if you weren t careful.
Now that we re all adults, or supposed to act like we are, I want to take you back to you childhood and dare you.
But this dare isn t about getting you into trouble by doing things you aren t supposed to do. Rather, it s a challenge to do what s important to EMS, your agency and to you.
For seasoned EMS providers, I dare you to:
- be patient advocates and give the best care every time you respond to a patient in need;
- not always take shortcuts. Anyone who has been in the field a number of years learns shortcuts in the assessment and treatment of sick and injured patients. But these shortcuts don t necessarily result in better patient care, just less work for you. Use good judgment, and don t take shortcuts just because you feel lazy or think your patients don t deserve your full effort;
- remain as passionate about taking care of patients every shift as you did when you climbed aboard the ambulance on your first run; and
- be a mentor to every new employee and to help them become better professionals.
For new EMS providers, I dare you to:
- look forward to going to work every day. EMS is a great career and more than just a job. Make it your profession;
- plan for a long career in EMS, in which you build on what you learned in school and become a life-long learner in how to best take care of your patients;
- learn how to balance your work and life. Although EMS is great profession and you need passion for it, it shouldn t be your first passion. Your family should be;
- make time to give back to EMS, whatever success you enjoy in your career. Not everyone can be an educator or administrator, but you can take other avenues to help make the profession better than when you joined it; and
- finish what you start. As you begin your new career think for a minute about how you ll feel when you reflect on your years of service. Will you have followed the course and finished as strong as you started?
For EMS administrators, I dare you to:
- treat your employees with respect and to guide their actions in the delivery of emergency medical care to the citizens of your community;
- be a role model to your employees. Show that you expect them to perform well, and support them when they fall short at times;
- recognize your employees when they outperform your expectations and go above and beyond the standard of care in the treatment of their patients; and
- avoid being satisfied with the status quo. Continue to raise the bar on your service to the community and your personal commitment to your employees.
For EMS instructors, I dare you to:
- positively change each new student by developing their learning skills beginning on their first day of class;
- give every student the attention they need to feel secure in the learning environment and to instill in them a passion for making themselves the best EMS provider with a dedicated approach to developing their expertise; and
- develop or consider new and innovative methods of presenting educational material to each student. Learning requires the student to take an active role in the process.
Dozens of points could be listed under each of these categories. I urge you to customize the list to have the greatest affect on you, your agency or the profession. Remember that the list isn t completion of the challenge; it s your actions that will make the impact. Stretch your limits and continue to raise the bar for yourself and those around you. I dare you.