17 February 2010

--He who leads with no following is merely taking a walk--

I knew it was bound to happen. It was just a matter of time before the question would be asked and I would find myself in the position of defending “The Chronicles” and “EMS 2.0”. Sadly enough I was ready, only because I had internally asked myself this same question just to do a little self-check on my motivations. I’m not a self-serving person, so I do that quite often.

“You sure have been talking a lot about this Chronicles of EMS stuff lately…posting stuff on face book…sending out emails and stuff. What do you think, they’re gonna ask you to be on TV or something?”

The way it was asked really caught me off guard. It was almost accusatory and had a lot of jealous overtones. But what really made me feel uneasy was the fact that I was in the process of telling a few people that I had intentions of going to Baltimore, MD for the EMS Today Expo. The question came just as I was saying that I was excited by the opportunity to speak with Justin, Mark and possibly Ted in person and maybe there would be others who I only knew from Blogville that I could finally meet up with.

Yeah, so maybe I am a little star struck…maybe. There are a few of us at work who refer to the authors of certain blogs by name as if they are our next door neighbor we’ve just talked to before coming to work. It’s like "You know, Justin brought up a good point the other day" or "and Chris said…” and “…Rhett said that…”. That’s just how much we have come to identify with our colleagues in the profession. Hey, we blog after all, we get a little intimate with our feelings and quite literally let it all hang out sometimes.

So in answer to the question I was posed with I answered it this way. “Who in their right mind would turn down an opportunity if it were presented…but I am not seeking any public recognition. My only intent is to align myself with and solidify my professional network with those who are like-minded and are positioned to make a difference”. That is the honest to god truth.

It was only this past November that I stumbled across this blogging stuff…I never knew anybody was doing it in relation to EMS or any other segment of public safety. Sure I’d heard of blogging and I’d read blogs about different things, but never had I stumbled across something that I was passionate about, like changing EMS and the way it is delivered. So quite naturally I became hooked on reading blogs and eventually starting commenting. Before I knew it I had a burning desire to put my thoughts and experiences out there and contribute to the discussions. These are the people that I can identify with! They’re saying the same things I’ve been saying for three years now! I AM NOT ALONE!!! Yes, these are the people I want to be around and align myself with because I’m a firm believer that you become like those with whom you associate, and quite frankly there are not a lot of people that share my vision around here I’ve found...the hard way.

This became even more evident to me early yesterday morning when I had an opportunity to listen to the latest podcast from EMS Garage(Episode 73). The part of the discussion that really got me stoked was when they started talking about how we identify ourselves; what is our identity in the public arena.

The truth could not have been told any truer (is that even a word?) when someone made a comment along the lines of we really don’t have any established history in EMS…the fire service has 200 years of practice on us. And they’re right. We are still stuck being the bastard child of the health care industry and living in the orphanage at the fire house. We don’t have fourth and fifth generation Paramedics to look back on with pride and admire their traditions. It is for that reason that I do admire the structure of the fire service. I like the order, the discipline, the traditions, the daily duties and the way that they are carried out.

Someone else said that sometimes it’s considered punitive to be assigned to the bus instead of the engine. For that reason alone I’m willing to cross train just so I can qualify for a job with a municipal fire service. Put me on the bus…leave me on the bus…I really don’t care, that’s where I’d rather be. The public would be better served by someone who actually wants to be there anyway.

But it’s the camaraderie that I long for at work, a sense of purpose and being an integral part of a system with a clear cut defined job function.

I’ll close it up with this final thought and reference a very moving speech that was posted yesterday(Part I PartII ). I watched this speech and was almost moved to tears as this FDNY Lieutenant spoke from his heart about what it means to be in public service.

We in the pre-hospital care field need some heroes too. We need someone to start living legendary lifestyles and become a legend in their own right. We need Paramedics to be willing to put on the super cape and perform heroically in the field with honor, character and integrity. I want my sons and my daughter to tell my grand kids that their grandpa was a Paramedic just like they are, and pass the stories on down through the generations.

I look back on the service that my grandfather and father gave to the City of Hopewell Bureau of Fire with pride. My grandfather died before he probably knew what a Paramedic was, but I’d like to think that if he did, he would have been one. My father left the service just as his station was staffing EMT’s on an engine, I’d like to think he would’ve been one of the first had he stayed on.

So am I looking for notoriety or fame? Absolutely not. I just want to make a difference and leave the world and/or the system better than it was when it was handed down to me.


  1. You have a very good point. I love the fire guys that I work with, and several of them do enjoy being on the ambulance, but I do disagree with the thought that we have no history, no heros. I think we have simply forgotten where we came from.

    I remember one of the first things I was taught in EMT class was that the EMS system came out of war and military service, as it seems much does in medicine. We forget that before we had ambulances and were serving the public, medics were on the front lines fighting and saving lives. While we can debate where exactly EMS came from, one of the more vivid scenes I have of what we came from is the Band of Brothers series and the medic that fought to keep Easy company as healthy as they could be in the middle of winter.

    To me, we have are the glue that can bind, we are the light when there is nothing else, and we are the ones that are turned to when it looks like all hope is lost. We may not have as rich a history as the fire service, but we have always been there when we were needed.

  2. Good Sir, I digress. You are indeed correct that we have a history rich with honor and service to our fellow man.

    I guess I often forget to look past the 1950's when evaluating where we've evolved from. You are correct about the battlefield medics of the great wars, they were truly the forerunners of modern pre-hospital care.

    Maybe I'm just a little jealous that we don't have the cool nostalgic black and white photos like the fire service does adorning their fire house walls.

    Thanks for the perspective!!

  3. :) I was lucky in that I caught Band of Brothers the other night and thought of it when I read this.

    But I do know what you mean. My fire house has a wall of black and white pictures and all but maybe one of them has a fire truck or a ladder truck. I believe there is only one phone with a rescue squad (and I think that is what it is). It would be great to have those photos, that history, and all of the stories.