12 March 2010

A time for reflection

It’s been a whole week now since I’ve gotten back from the EMS Today/CoEms/EMS2.0/flash vacation trip to Baltimore. Little did I know that that little trip would accomplish so much. I had my expectations, but never did I suspect that it would accomplish so much in so little time.

I came back last Sat. night and went straight into work…literally. I found myself whipping through the city streets going to this belly ache call and then the next with a renewed sense of job satisfaction. Somehow those belly aches seemed just as important as the AMI to me tonight. I guess it was just realizing that there are others out there doing the same ‘ol mundane stuff I am and facing the same problems and frustrations…just like me.

Even the casual run in with the non-caring nurse (so it seemed) at transfer of care didn’t set me off this time. It was only later into the wee morning hours that I had time to reflect on the conversations I had in Baltimore and it was then that it hit me. I had been imparted a seed of wisdom from the Happy Medic that most likely has changed the course of my career.

Really? Was it that dramatic you might ask.

To me it was...let me set the stage.

I’m sitting at Uno Chicago on the inner harbor of Baltimore enjoying a beer and grilled shrimp, courtesy of JEMS and George Washington University, with some guys who have made their way down from northern Joysey. To my right is this little guy that has more energy than Chernoble before it blew. He’s a medic I’m told, but doesn’t quite fit the image of such a creature. He’s no bigger around than a sapling but has the coolest gelled hair thing going, smartly dressed and quite articulate he is.

We’re talking about this little radio type show he does. Yeah, I’d heard of it; a couple of medical types get together in some garage and talk about all things EMS. He’s just all excited and so am I for some unknown reason as we are talking like we were in a garage, a very noisy one at that.

Out of the corner of my eye I catch this ruggedly handsome paramedic type approaching and I abruptly turn to say hello. This little bite size of a guy turns too and recognizes who it is, then introduces me to this man who has probably already tagged me as a groupie from our earlier encounters. With bedazzling speed and one swift motion he is out of his chair; he grabs this tall man by the arm and guides him into the seat that he had just vacated. With that, the little bite size medic is gone. Off to his next chance encounter with an unsuspecting guest who will never guess what name really appears on his driver’s license.

Here I am, sitting with the Happy Medic to my right. “It’s him…it’s really him”, I catch myself thinking before I realize that we’ve already talked a couple of times earlier today.

“So, having a good time?” he asks leaning in for a response.

“Wonderful time, just fabulous” I replied.

We engage in some small talk about this that and the other before I decide to take the plunge.

“Is this an inappropriate time to talk shop?” I ask.

“No, not at all”, he says without reservation leaning in.

I had so much that I wanted to ask on this trip, so many unknowns. Where do we at the ground level fit into the grand scheme of things. All of the who, what, when, where, why and how’s that you could think of were running through my mind. I came with questions and so far I had only found a hint of an answer. Ted Setla and I had talked briefly about The Chronicals coming to my area and how that could be made to happen. With that I came away with a clearer understanding of the mission of the project and how conversation would provide the starting point for change. That much I could appreciate but he surely didn’t understand where I come from. Here we don’t acknowledge our problems, and we certainly don’t talk about them. How does this work for me I still wanted to know.

“How does this work for us on the ground, those at the bottom of the totem pole?”, I started. “How do those of us who have ideas, complaints, concerns or problems get heard. How do those of us with integrity effect a needed change among those who could care less?”, I asked pleading for a simple answer that would fix it all.

I was about to get the simple answer that I so desperately needed to hear. However, unbeknownst to me, I knew the answer already.

HM thought for a second and spoke forth his wisdom, “You just be the person, the medic, that you want everyone else to be”.

What? Really? Was it that simple? Could that really work? Am I the one who will set the tone and the pace for professionalism around me? These are the thoughts that ran through my mind as I registered what I had just heard. Then he continued…

“Are you a Paramedic?”

“Testing in May”, I answered.

“Then what…” he asked.

“I’ll finish my associates next Fall semester”

“…and then…” he asked returning the volley.

I motioned to the George Washington University banner hanging behind me on the wall and answered “going to GW to complete my bachelors”.

He sit back and threw his hands up, “sounds like you’ve already got it figured out. It’s then that you can go to those that matter and approach them with your field experience and tell them you’ve got an education just like them and demand to be heard. You’ve got to approach them on their level.”

From that point forward it was all a whir as he talked about how he handled situations that surfaced in his world. I was then that I realized that I was missing one ingredient that will be the catalyst for all this information…patience.

This will take time. It’s not going to be an overnight thing by no means and more than likely I may not even see it in my life time. But what I do know is that my contributions, however small, will be added in with those of like mind and spirit, and that will be what makes the difference.

So here I sit… being patient. Watching time and events unfold around me in slow motion, revealing the master plan one piece at a time.

It’s not as frustrating as I imagined it would be, but then again, it’s only been a week. But now is a growing period. This is a time to flex my patience muscle that will lead to the ability to deal with the complications that arise from the evolving of our profession.

I will just go on doing what I do…being the kind of person I wish everyone else would be.

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