WASHINGTON — With EMS Today 2014 as its backdrop, the District of Columbia Fire and EMS (DCFEMS) Department held a graduation ceremony for seven new paramedics joining the department.
The ceremony held Friday in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, home to the EMSToday 2014 conference and exhibition. Following the presentation of colors by the DCFEMS Honor Guard and opening remarks by Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe, the event recognized the new members as part of the ongoing advancement the department is making to improve its delivery of EMS. Two other recuits who entered the program while in progress were also recognized but necessary training still needs to be completed for their graduation.
Deputy Mayor for Public Safety, Paul Quander delivered the keynote address highlighting the partnership the department has with the University of the District of Columbia in its paramedic training. Deputy Mayor Quander said that the recruits will serve as an example of that partnership for years to come as the DCFEMS will be recognized as the best in the nation. The deputy mayor also reinforced his belief that the department is “an EMS agency that occassionally goes to fires,” and that it has changed greatly towards this focus.
JEMS Editor-in-Chief A.J. Heightman, MPA, EMT-P was the guest speaker for the event and shared what he called “teachable moments” with the new paramedics from his own experiences as a paramedic both on and off-duty. Along with those moments A.J. also gave them 10 tips to remember throughout their career:
1. Ego Eats Brains. Let those who want power have it as long as you control your patient.
2. Treat each provider like they are your brother or sister, because they are.
3. We need to be more aware of returning military veterans with PTSD and thoughts of suicide. We also need to be aware of those veterans coming into EMS as well because “they have seen enough trauma.”
4. Jealousy is a disease you have to be immune to. Don’t be jealous of your colleagues.
5. Don’t ever forget to touch a patient’s hand or shoulder and let them know you care.
6. Cover all your patients out of dignity, no matter what the injury or illness.
7. Be an EMS MacGyver. Go above and beyond and think of how you will get there.
8. Always have a backup plan in case of device or equipment failure. Learn now how to get out of a jam and be resourceful.
9. Always be on guard. Trust everyone but be suspicious of everyone, especially dangerous patients and potentially violent scenes.
10. Surround yourself with friends and loved ones who understand what you do, your passion and who are your support networks.
DCFEMS Medical Director David Miramontes, MD presented certificates to each new paramedic as part of the ceremony as well as a scholastic award to Paramedic Donna C. Tidaback for high scores in testing. Paramedic Tidaback spoke to the audience providing a brief personal note about each new paramedic and where they see themselves in the future. Family members and chief officers in attendance were impressed by these as some of the new paramedics saw themselves as being an EMS captain; the next medical director; fire chief. and possibly the next editor-in-chief of JEMS.
Fire Chief Ellerbe gave the closing remarks mentioning to the graduates that “the easiest day you had was in the academy,” and that they hopefully understand the importance of today’s event and the weight of the program itself and the expectations that the city has on them, “The city needs you and we need more like you.”