05 December 2009

The Birth of a System

Over the past month I have followed the happenings between two Paramedics who live and work 8,000 miles apart. I don't exactly recall how I stumbled onto their story, nor does it really matter...I'm just truly thankful that I did. Here's their story in a nutshell, Justin is a Firefighter/Paramedic in San Francisco, Ca and then there is Mark who is a Paramedic in the UK. Both have an affection for their respective jobs that rivals anything that I have ever seen here in my little section of southcentral Virginia. What I first noticed was that they were both thinkers; not a bunch of grippers. They went a lot deeper into their jobs than just protocols and shift schedules, but about important things like the health care system as a whole and how we as pre-hospital providers fit into this health care system.

Enter The Chronicles of EMS. This project was developed to be the beginning of an exchange of ideas and to provide an up-close and personal view of EMS. To make a long story short; Mark comes to the U.S. to work for a week or so and Justin goes to the U.K. to do the same. Both are now able to write about their experiences and share different viewpoints from each others respective jobs. This has allowed not only me, but thousands of others to have the opportunity to share a second hand experience that can challenge our ways of thinking about how we do our jobs.

After stumbling around related blogs and looking up protocols from other countries, I happen upon Garth Van Zyl who hails from Franschhoek, Western Cape in beautiful South Africa. Now this guy is the real deal as he is in the true beginning stages of building an EMS system and shares his thoughts in his blog . I'll leave it up to you to visit his website and read his story and inspiration, but turns out he is THE system for his community.

It is events and happenings like this that give me hope for a bright future in EMS. I live in a part of the country that is strong with the volunteer spirit. There's nothing more noble than to set aside your personal time, or your own life for that matter, and give for the benefit of your neighbour or a stranger in need.

For one to think that this way of giving to the community can remain the chivalrous act that it has been forever is naive. I have unfortunately seen some changes in the past three years in my county that should be raising red flags. These changes in attitudes, personalities, and methods of operation have caused me to to become an outspoken advocate for a change that will hopefully take us in the direction of becoming a true profession. I am not saying that volunteerism should go by the wayside! But there has got to be accountability for the actions or lack thereof when the system gets a "flat tire".

I do believe that the downfall of pre-hospital care began a downward trend when it started being seen as a money making opportunity. ANY agency that has their eye on the bottom line will not make decisions that are beneficial to the patient or the community, unless proper safeguards are in place to advocate for the provision of service.

Well, I did get of on a little tangent there didn't I? As I have stated before, I am optimistic that change and good things are on the way worldwide for EMS and/or pre-hospital care. This change will not come as a result of copious blogs and gripping around the station or even gripping at business meetings. Change will have to first start in ME and YOU! And when WE decide to band together and do what is right for the community and the citizens , and demand the same professionalism from those we work with, then and only then will change happen.

I titled this section The Birth of a System for one reason. I see a new way of thinking starting to emerge around the world. This way of thinking is going to cause some labour pains, but a birth is immanent and will be worth the pain in the long run.

Stay strong and focused my friends! We're almost there!!


  1. Hey Ronnie,

    Once again thanks for your inspiration and kind words, change is on the horizon and it's a positive one...

    Here is the correct links buddy


    Keeping it real!

  2. We are indeed on the way. Inspiring words my friend. To borrow from a guy I followed for a bit..."We are the people we've been waiting for." Like you said, it's not about the griping, it's about the doing. Thanks for reading, see you at the big one.

  3. It has been really cool to learn about other EMS systems in and out of the USA through blogs, podcasts, and now the Chronicles of EMS.

    On the EMSEduCast podcast we frequently have EMS educators on as guests from around the world. I was especially inspired by our recent guest from Sri Lanka. In the after math of the 2005 Tsunami they have built an EMS system from scratch and made amazing progress in four years. This link will get you to the podcast and other Sri Lanka EMS system links.

  4. The EMSEduCast link