Blocked by the NAEMT. . . An Update

Blocked by the NAEMT. . . An Update

Oct 8, 2019

Last week I wrote about how I was blocked by the National Association of EMTs on Twitter.  I received a lot of positive, supportive outreach from friends and colleagues so to all of you, thank you for that!  Additionally, I received a comment from NAEMT President Matt Zavadsky who left a comment on the post that included his personal cell phone number, and another correspondence from an old college friend who is now on the NAEMT board.  I am going to discuss my talk with Matt here, as our interaction was “on the record.”

First, I want to say that I have a ton of respect for Matt.  I’ve taken his classes at conferences, and I closely followed the cultural changes that he led down at MedStar in Fort Worth, Texas.  He has always been an EMS leader that I admire, and my dealings with NAEMT have not changed that.  It meant a lot that he reached out, and we had a chance to talk about a few different issues in the time that we were on the phone.

Regarding the issue of advanced degrees, Matt said that the issue of advocating for advanced education in EMS is one that is very delicate for the organization.  With a large mix of fire-based providers, with the fire sector being the most vocally opposed to the movement, and rural paramedics who are already strapped for staffing, there were concerns.  Couple that with the current funding streams that many sectors of the profession are struggling with, and Matt said (and I am paraphrasing) that the organization needed to take a far more neutral approach to the topic.  While, personally, I would like to be part of an organization that continues to challenge me, and make my profession more competitive and marketable, I understand.

Now, regarding the issue of my Twitter block, my position as compared to the organization’s, as conveyed to me by Matt, become a bit more divisive.  In his comment, Matt said, “we maintain social media platforms to allow our members to express their opinions on EMS issue and their opinions about NAEMT, even when those opinions are not positive. The only restrictions we place on our members using these platforms is that profanity or harassment is not tolerated. As the organization representing the EMS profession, we must ensure that NAEMT maintains professional standards.”

The use of the words “profanity” and “harassment” made me take a much closer look at my most recent posts regarding the NAEMT.  Based on my review, at no time did I use any profanity, and in my opinion, I did not feel that I harassed anyone.  Matt told me that their office staff that runs their Twitter account felt that advocating for people to leave the organization was a form of harassment.  As a result, I became one of six individuals who were blocked by NAEMT on Twitter.

The Tweets that I shared in last week’s article are the only ones that involved NAEMT following their position statement.  In addition, in the weeks leading up to its release, there were a few other tweets that I posted that, to put it simply, urged NAEMT to do what I felt was the right thing.  I disagreed with what NAEMT said, I shared what I felt was a very well written resignation letter from the organization.

So, because of that small cluster of tweets, a group of their office workers, which included someone who approached me and asked me to run for an NAEMT e-board position and knew me quite well, to effectively put me in social media time out.  I am not heart broken.  I am not banging on the door trying to get back into the organization.  What I am is disappointed.  I am not disappointed in Matt or my college friend who both reached out and told me remarkably the same story, because they were the bigger people.  I am disappointed in the organization.

As it stands right now, NAEMT is not an organization that I have any interest in being involved with.  I won’t be seen at EMS on the Hill Day anymore.  When the next round of promotions come around in my department and they ask for my instructor card, I won’t be putting a PHTLS instructor card in front of them.  And if ITLS was more readily available, I’d probably take that class out of pocket instead of having my department pay for my PHTLS certification.

And I know what some of you are probably thinking, “Scott, all of this because they blocked you on Twitter?  Really?”  Yes.  Really.  To restate the NAEMT’s mission from their Twitter page: “The mission of NAEMT is to serve EMS practitioners through advocacy, educational programs and research.”  So, regardless of my membership status, they claim to represent me, however they do not want to hear what I have to say.

Anyone who knows me knows that I like a good debate.  They know that I have a lot of opinions and views of EMS that I am not shy about sharing.  There are people within this field that I disagree with on some aspects of our industry that are big parts of the field.  Do you know what we do?  We disagree on them.  We talk about it.  We hear each other’s views, and we find common ground that we do agree on.  Then we smile, share a handshake, in some cases a (bro) hug, or we offer to buy the next round of beers at the bar.  We don’t shut each other down or tune each other out.

The “harassment” claim against me is thin at best.  NAEMT can and has done better.

I want to once again thank Matt for reaching out.  That really meant a lot.  He was willing to talk openly and was certainly willing to listen to what I have to say.  I hope that attitude is contagious, and I am sure it will continue seeing as how Bruce Evans, another individual that I have a ton of respect for, is President Elect.

And to my friend from college, don’t lose sight of what is important.  He shared with me his views on the degree standards, and they are close to my own.  All is not lost.  People need to make sure that their position is heard and known.  You never know who is going to pop up in support of what you have to say.

Finally, I am not telling anyone to quit or boycott NAEMT.  My actions are the actions of one individual.  What I will say is when considering who to support, and who to pay membership dues to, make sure that you have a good idea of what the organization’s goals and positions are on issues that are important to you.  And make sure you know how they view dissenting opinions.  Everyone deserves a voice.  Don’t let yours be squelched.