Get Over Yourself

Get Over Yourself

Nov 17, 2014

If you ever want to get under an EMT’s skin, call him an ambulance driver.  The resulting rage, either in front of you or via social media later will tell a lot about them.  I was having a discussion last week at EMS World with a couple of friends kicking around a silly idea to host a bar crawl that required everyone to either wear one of those god awful EMS slogan t-shirts, or make their own to be able to participate.  My nurse friend who was part of the conversation just shook her head and said, “and people wonder why EMS struggles as an industry to get ahead.” I understood what she meant, we have always been, and seemingly will continue to be our own worst enemies.  Then, while waiting in the airport with a friend, the two of us were flipping through some industry centered Facebook pages having some laughs over some of the comments that people were posting on shared articles.  “I don’t know if I am reading comments from EMTs or YouTube comments,” is what he likes to say. We sat there over lunch and tried to figure out where this attitude is born from.  Is it a product of people’s environments and predispositions?  Is it due to people just being Type-A personalities in this field?  Or is it just general immaturity? Maybe we are over-recruiting.  It is no secret that if you are an EMT with a card in your back pocket for twenty years or twenty minutes, you can find employment somewhere.  It might not be the greatest job in the world, and it might not be an endpoint for your career but the opportunities are out there, it is just a matter of what a person is willing to settle for.  Its not really an industry recruiting problem, it is more of a lack of standards when it comes to recruiting.  And exposing impressionable younger people to the folks who have the wrong attitude just makes it more difficult to break this cycle of disrespect and immaturity. Anyone who knows me personally will confirm that I am, in fact, a huge goofball.  I can be inappropriate with...

A Reminder About Being a Professional

A Reminder About Being a Professional

Oct 30, 2014

This morning I saw a video come across pretty much all of the major EMS related news sites about a fire crew from Glendale, Arizona who were filmed while restraining a patient.  I fired up the video and sat there watching saying to myself over and over “it looks fine to me. . . still looks fine. . .” and then one of the firefighters opened his mouth, and lost his cool.  He informed the patient that he was “dead meat” and began swearing at the patient and the family.  Have a look at the video, but be aware that there is potentially offensive language used in it.  It might not be suitable for work. The backstory on the call is sketchy: a patient who had a “seizure” after overdosing on medications who first punched his father and then assaulted the crew.  During their restraint of the patient, the stretcher ended up on its side, and at least two firefighters ended up on top of the patient.  Operating in a vacuum, and putting the video on mute, the crew did a pretty good job retraining the patient.  He was being held down by an adequate number of people leaving other responders to watch the scene, and monitor bystanders.  If two people can effectively hold a patient down, then there is no reason to have five people on top of him, so kudos for that.  Keeping with the desired online theme of not armchair quarterbacking this call, I feel that this is a good time to touch on a couple of different points that we can remind ourselves of after watching this video. In the world of power stretchers, we no longer have to lift it to its highest level right off the bat to prevent repetitive lifts. Keep your stretcher at a manageable level especially when you have a patient on it who might become combative.  If you start off at a level higher than your patient, then they will be easier to control, and while you might put yourself at risk for strikes to some areas that men specifically might be more protective of, you will prevent yourself from being struck in the...

Episode 14: Should We Arm Them?

One of the most controversial topics in the world of EMS today is whether or not we should arm EMTs and paramedics or rather, should we allow those who possess conceiled carry permits carry on the job?  And furthermore, in whose hands should this decision rest in?  Lawmakers?  Department leaders?  The individual? This week, Scott turns over the podcast to the Geekymedic Chris Montera and Sean Eddy which allows the pair to engage in a spirited debate on the utlimate question: should we arm them? Also, stay tuned after the closing music for a little nugget from the cutting room floor. . . To download this week’s podcast, follow this link!  Otherwise, use the player below. Share...

Why So Serious?

Why So Serious?

Jun 13, 2014

This is going to be my last post on this topic.  I actually intended on posting this about a week ago, but so much has come up over the past week that I kept pushing it back.  In fact, I was going to push it back even more with my Belchertown post that I released yesterday but I figured that this one could not sit any longer. The events of the “smiling and posing” paramedics in Detroit got me thinking back to a call that I did a few years ago. We were dispatched to a very well-known diner in the city I was working in at the time.  It was one that I frequented both while at work and occasionally off the job since it was close to my house.  That morning, we were dispatched to the patient having a “diabetic issue.”  The waitress told us that our patient was a regular in their establishment.  He was an elderly male who would walk down every morning for breakfast, and was a known diabetic.  Today, he came in sweaty and disoriented, and just was not himself. While the patient could follow commands, he was just “off.”  His sugar came back at 30, so we continued where the waitress had led off: we fed him glass after glass of orange juice and some toast as well.  As our treatment of the patient progressed he became more and more alert to the point where he was conversing with and joking with us.  We laughed as he jokingly told us how much he hated needles despite having to check his sugar multiple times a day. Being a busy Saturday morning, and this being a small diner (I’m sure many of my readers from Springfield know exactly the spot that I am talking about) we were the center of attention.  I’m sure people wondered what was going on as we cracked quiet jokes and then collectively laughed.  While the digital age was just starting to really take off, not many people had cameras, and the voyeuristic society that we live in today was not yet dominating the news and the Interwebs, so no pictures of the laughing paramedics...

Responsible Reporting and Credibility

I feel bad following up yesterday’s positive CPR piece with a negative one, but I feel like something needs to be said in a greater forum than just the timeline of my Twitter account. I spent Wednesday night reading some articles that I had put aside this week, specifically ones related to the paramedics who were allegedly photographed “smiling” at the scene of a motor vehicle accident and what can loosely be referred to as “reporting” by Fox 2 in Detroit.  I would link the original story but Fox 2 has pulled it from circulation without explanation.  I am not going to beat the dead horse of the issue revolving around the picture.  If you want to read some great articles about it check out Dave Statter’s page, or see what the Rogue Medic has to say about it. After reading a few articles and looking over the Twitter feeds of those involved, I decided that I would make a simple attempt to voice my opinion.  I posted the following four tweets and called it a night.   What I woke up to was a reply from Maurielle Lue, one of Andrea Isom’s colleagues at Fox 2.  Ms. Lue, who states on her Twitter profile that she is an “Emmy Award Winning reporter” posted the following reply on my timeline:             That’s right; an Emmy Award Winning reporter told me to “STFU.”  While, with that simple statement, she lost all credibility in my eyes, I engaged in a lengthy 140 character at a time discussion with her that ended with her telling me I should contact the station if I was so upset.  I took Ms. Lue’s advice and sent the following e-mail to Kevin Roseburger at Fox 2.   Mr. Roseborough, I am writing you in regards to the story that your station did last week about the paramedics who were thought to be smiling at the scene of a motor vehicle accident.  Last night, I sat down to catch up on a number of EMS related stories that I had bookmarked, your story and Dave Statter’s (Statter911.com) thoughts on it being towards the top.  After reading both, as...

Gettin’ Educated!

My post today is loosely in support of one called “EMS Week Resolution” that went up this morning at The Ambulance Chaser.com.  Have a look; it is a good read essentially about “growing up.”  My take on it though is slightly different, and is something that I am not alarmed about because it is a trend that I see from system to system and while attending EMS conferences. Our friendly neighborhood Ambo Chaser points out to us that he was involved in a message board discussion about a state that was mandating all paramedics who were even short a half a credit on their continuing education to retake their National Registry exam.  How dare a state demand that?  How dare they penalize their paramedics and jeopardize the infrastructure of their EMS system over a half an hour of training?  While our favorite attorney/paramedic makes some great points about accountability and professionalism and (yet again) personal responsibility, I want to look at it from a slightly different angle. Why the heck is anyone even close to the minimum hours when it comes to training?  How could you let that happen?  We are surrounded by education in this field.  You can get it online through great sites like MedicEd and CentreLearn, and you can find enough educational classes that both provide and don’t provide CEU’s that there is no excuse to even be near that bare minimum that we all seem to try to strive for when thinking about getting ourselves educated in our chosen profession. A friend of mine once used a great saying which I have used many, many times since hearing it and frankly, it seems to fit perfectly here: “Don’t shuffle your feet you’ll trip over the bar!”  We set the bar so low that there is not only no excuse to clear it but there is absolutely no excuse to even be close to it.  If you want to talk about professionalism and being responsible for our patient actions, well, this is where it starts. Greg Friese pointed out in a class of his that I took at EMS Today one year that free pizza brings in more students than good...

Social Media and Dirty Laundry

Late night I was shown a very public reply posted to a very private email circulated by management in a New England ambulance service expressing displeasure with the performance of many of their employees that some have interpreted led to the loss of a 911 contract that they have been given a second chance at.  Although the original email was never posted, the reply made on a craigslist page and signed by an “anonymous employee” called out management for their practices.  I read it, and I cringed. The post itself was flagged for removal within the first eight hours of it being posted online which is fine, because I would not have linked it here as I personally felt it was in poor taste.  While there is a time and place for sharing with the outside what goes on in the inner workings of an organization this was a lot of dirty laundry to hang on the line for everyone to see.  Quite often they are posted too quickly with the thought that “if I let the public know what is going on here things are sure to get better!”  In actuality, all this does is increase the gap between the field and management. As someone who has, in the past, pulled the pin on a grenade and tossed it into the fray, I can testify that actions like this do not help as much as many think that they will.  As my career progressed, I found it easier to write the email or memo and let it sit on the computer for a good couple of hours.  Then, I would come back and take a second look.  More often than not, my opinion would have evolved to an “it’s the same old complaint, it won’t help anyway.  I’ll keep it in my back pocket though.”  The draft would then be saved, and the window closed, as some fights are just not worth it. The anonymous writer of this post clearly was upset, and I doubt that his or her intentions were completely malicious, they should realize that the damage they did might be irreparable.  While it might be fun for some people to...

Sirens on USA Premiers Tonight!

It’s currently Thursday night, at 8pm and as I write this blog, I am counting down the hours until Sirens premiers on the USA Network.  From looking around social media I have found that there are some out there who not only are not excited about this show, but are damning its existence.  To them, and to everyone else in the field I am here to say, lighten up! I used do the opening lecture for an EMT class in Massachusetts that I called “So, You Want to be an EMT” that talked about a lot of the factors that one must think about before even considering getting into this field.  One of the subjects that I touched upon was what I personally consider the best PR machine that this field has ever had: the 1970’s show Emergency!  The show, which premiered in 1972, loosely chronicled the creation of the Los Angeles Fire Department’s paramedic program and shared the brand new concept of paramedicine with the world through the eyes of Johnny Gage and Roy Desoto.  Since the show went off the air in 1979, a few networks have tried to recreate it and have failed.  Miserably. Do I even have to bring up the horror show that was Trauma! that introduced Captain Versed (portrayed by social media’s own Ms Paramedic Natalie Quebodeaux Cavender)?  Or, if you really want a laugh, go on YouTube and search for episodes of a show from 1999 called Rescue 77 that once featured a paramedic doing a handstand on a patient to defibrillate them in a pool of water.  It was truly cringe worthy. While I thought that Rescue Me was a great character study, and the first season had a lot of telling tales about the stress that many in the field are subjected to day in and day out it was more about the people than the department.  Third Watch, again, was a show that I could never get in to, and I have yet to even bother watching an episode of Chicago Fire.  Saved, which lasted just one season, might have been my favorite but the show was not without its share of glaring flaws. ...

Spare Some Change?

This post can also be found at TheEMSLeader.com With EMS Today right around the corner, I got thinking the other day about the past conferences that I have been to.  This year’s gathering in Washington, DC marks my ninth consecutive major conference that I have attended.  I’ve been to Baltimore three times, this will be my second appearance in DC, Las Vegas twice, New Orleans, and the first conference that I attended back in 2010 in Dallas. That year in Dallas, Had quite the opportunity drop in my lap.  One morning, I had the chance to sit down and interview a person who I very quickly came to admire because of his involvement in the National EMS Management Association, Skip Kirkwood, who at the time was the chief of Wake County EMS.  Even before I had a chance to meet Skip the words “Well, in Wake County. . . ” were a constantly used phrase in my vocabulary.  I admired the changes and strides that they had made in their quest to provide the best possible patient care for the residents of Wake County. More than that though, I admired Skip’s approaches to problem solving.  For years to follow, presentations that I have given have involved little pearls of wisdom that I have obtained at the hands (and fingers) of skip over the years from e-mails and posts that I have received from him, so while I had a long standing admiration for Skip, having the chance to sit down with him as a captive audience and pick his brain was quite the opportunity for me. One thing that stood out to me was how he approached change and progression in Wake County.  As I read about his service it was clear that things always seemed to progress quickly there.  Skip’s answer to me was that he always promotes an environment that is comfortable and welcoming to change.  He wanted his people to be ready to walk in one day and find a new piece of equipment, or a new policy change.  By doing this, when major changes were rolled out his staff was more welcoming and willing to adapt. I cannot tell you how...

Ellenville Did the Right Thing. . .

Last week a news story made its rounds on internet sites and blogs about a New York State EMT who had been suspended for six weeks and then quit his volunteer department for what many called “doing the right thing.”  If you have not seen the article, feel free to follow this link.  Otherwise I’ll give you the Cliff Notes version of the story: Twenty year-old Stephen Sawyer, a member of the Ellenville First Aid and Rescue Squad was at his station alone when a call came in for a four year-old having a seizure.  Sawyer, who is one year under the Squad’s policy stated age to drive but is an employee at a private EMS service in the area was the only EMT available that day when the paramedic on scene “called for an ambulance” for transport.  Unable to find any available mutual aid unit to respond to the call, Sawyer decided to take matters into his own hands.  Sawyer, referred to in one article as a “squad leader,” a member of the Squad’s communications committee and an advisor to their Youth Squad who presumably had knowledge of his department’s policy did what he “felt he had to do” and violated the 21+ driving policy, responded in an ambulance, and transported the patient to a local ER. The response of the Ellenville First Aid and Rescue Squad’s board of directors was to suspend Sawyer for 60 days.  Sawyer then resigned from the squad on the spot. In another article that interviews the Squad’s captain Mr. John Gavaris, the captain states the under normal circumstances, Sawyer might not have been suspended if not for his previous disciplinary record which was not focused on in greater detail.  The response both from his community and the social media EMS community was one of “online outrage.”  People felt that the 60 day suspension was too harsh and called from Sawyer to be reinstated immediately.  Although the argument could be made that 60 days is a pretty harsh sentence, I have to stand with the Squad on this one.  They made the right call. Like it or not, policies exist.  Policies have to exist.  They are what give...