I’m a Paramedic, not a Paleontologist

“Nothing stops an organization faster than people who believe that the way you worked yesterday is the best way to work tomorrow.”John Madonna

Patrick, one of my colleagues here in Massachusetts shared that quote with me one night when we were having one of our nightly conversations about where our service is, and where it is heading.  John Madonna’s words describe many people that I’ve encountered in EMS.  They fear and are resistant to change, and they really shouldn’t be.  They need to learn how to embrace it, and be comfortable with change, and view it not as “change” but as evolution.

I’ll paraphrase Patrick’s thoughts that followed:

“We could call this the ‘Dinosaur Mindset.’  Extinction thinking.  We must grow, learn, evolve, become, and always improve ourselves and our ability to serve the world.  All the while not changing or letting go of the core principles, truths, and values that should never change.  If we waver from our course, we will just find another way to become extinct and irrelevant.”

Every generation has seen change in EMS.  Otherwise, we’d still be driving around in Cadlillacs that doubled as hearses.  We wouldn’t be doing 12-Lead EKGs, and CPAP would just be some silly thing that respiratory therapists apply in the hospital.

If you’re one of those people that’s not really comfortable with change, that’s fine, but don’t fear it.   Don’t hold it back.  Throw the phrase “That’ll never work” from your vocabulary, and right next to it, file the phrase “well, 5 (or 10, or 15) years ago, we didn’t do it that way.”  Be patient, and let evolution take its course.  It might not be comfortable at first, but with time, change becomes easy, and often can be beneficial.

Be willing to try old tricks but with a new twist.  Just because something hasn’t worked in the past doesn’t mean it can’t be made to work now.  Finally, learn from what goes on around you.  If you want to change, don’t be set on reinventing the wheel.  The best answer might not be within your organization, or even within the industry.  Be willing to take that extra time, and make the change the right way.  Trying to rush will simply prove that “haste makes waste” is an accurate analogy.
That “It’ll never work” mindset has always held us back, and its time to move past it.  Open your eyes, people! “Our way” isn’t always the best way, and there’s so much evidence out there now, and so many different ways of doing things that we need to, no we have to, embrace best practices, and welcome a culture of change.
Don’t let the Dinosaur Mindset render you extinct.