The “Should Have” Mentality

The “Should Have” Mentality

Sep 4, 2014

Social media has done a lot of good for society.  I have reconnected with long lost friends.  Because of it, I am writing on this blog today, and I have a way to advertise while I write.  Also, everyone can participate in the conversation with their own soapbox to stand on, and they can share their opinion to anyone who will listen.  On the downside, everyone can participate in the conversation with their own soapbox to stand on, and they can share their opinion to anyone who will listen.  In the weeks since the tragic events in Ferguson Missouri, I have made a frequent statement on Twitter and Facebook that can be summed up as “everyone is an expert in public safety.”  What I am talking about is the “should have” mentality that many have adopted. Take, for instance, that now infamous moment in time outside of Detroit, Michigan where two paramedics were photographed allegedly posing and smiling.  A friend of patient Jake Glover told the reporter that “you should be tending to someone who obviously needs your help, instead of worrying about taking a picture.”  From that moment in time with her limited knowledge of procedure and patient care, she made that conclusion.  Based on a picture.  A snapshot of a moment in time. Or how about an example that is much closer to home.  There is something that happens on almost every call that I have ever done involving a 12-lead EKG.  I like to call it “the stare.”  The leads go on, someone pushes the “12-Lead” button, and everything stops.  All of the providers on scene turn their attention towards the monitor and sit very still as they wait for it to start spitting out its treasure.  Once that print starts, all motion around the patient seems to start back up with it.  A number of years ago, I was caring for an unresponsive patient in a dimly lit apartment in a not-so-nice part of the city.  The leads went on, and the 12-lead started doing its thing when a friend of the patient walked in the room and saw what he thought was a couple of paramedics just staring at...

Podcast Episode 11: Let’s Talk HIPAA!

Podcast Episode 11: Let’s Talk HIPAA!

Jul 14, 2014

It goes without saying that many medical professionals (not just prehospital providers) really do not understand HIPAA and how it affects their job.  More importantly, many do not realize how it actually does not affect their job.  For this week’s episode, Scott steals Natalie Cavender again on her ride home to talk about HIPAA from her point of view. To download this week’s podcast, click this link!  Otherwise, use the player below. Share...

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...

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...

It’s Stachetober!

Over the last couple of years, there has been a group of paramedics that I work with who have taken it upon themselves to grow mustaches in the name of cancer awareness during the month of October.  The event is known as Stachetober, and each year, more and more paramedics and EMTs throughout my county have joined to participate.  Many would ask why we are not doing this in November, as many other people do, but many view November as a month where you do not shave at all.  Sadly, our departmental regulations prevent that.  They do, however, allow you to have a sweet mustache, so we do our own thing in the month of October. This year, against my better judgement, I have decided that I am going to join my colleagues (who are all male by the way) and grow myself as sweet a stache as I possibly can. In keeping with the growth of Stachetober, we have also decided to take on a charity this year, and are soliciting for donations from friends, family, and the general public.  The charity that has been selected is All the Difference Inc Pediatrics Services For Developmental Difference which one of my colleagues rightly describes as “a phenomenal non profit company that works with children with developmental disabilities and special needs.”  It is a charity that is near and dear to one of our paramedics’ hearts. So how can you help?  How can you support us in growing our sweet sweet ‘staches?  Just head over to our GoFundMe account and contribute!  Any amount will help. . . even if it is just a dollar.  Any amount will help us make the itching, the funny looks, and the laughs worth it.  More importantly you will be giving to a GREAT charity. And, as always, thanks to everyone who takes the time to contribute.  The money this year is going to a great cause.  Let’s see how much we can raise!   Share...

Preparation and Response

Preparation and Response

Apr 16, 2013

First of all I want to send out thoughts and prayers to everyone involved in yesterday’s explosion at the Boston Marathon.  It is a shame that we live in a world where we even have to deal with these incredibly tragic events, however, they also show the resilience of the American people.  We will recover, and we will overcome. In the wake of yesterday’s tragedy one thing I think everyone needs to realize is how lucky Boston is to have the men and women of Boston EMS caring for the people of their city.  In the days leading up to the Marathon, the Boston EMS Twitter was extremely active talking about the immense amount of preparation leading up to Monday morning.  From the looks of it they were ready for almost anything.  And kudos to Boston EMS for sharing that fact with the world. If nothing else, those of us in the EMS community need to walk away from this with recognition of how important preplanning is.  None of us should ever take for granted our own personal safety or the safety of any event that we cover.  No one should ever utter the words, “that will never happen here.”  Instead, take the extra time to draw up a detailed plan.  Know your staging areas, know your egress routes, and make sure that every single provider involved is aware of them as well. Another thing that needs to be pointed out that I think many people not involved in public safety lose sight of rather quickly is while this large response was going on in Copley Square the rest of Boston was still calling 9-1-1.  Boston EMS, Fire, and Police were just as busy as they were on Sunday, and just as busy as they will be today.  In my eyes, that is one of the most remarkable things about incidents like this.  Not only does the public safety community step up to deal with a major crisis at hand, they also continue to handle those routine emergencies that so frequently flood communities. While watching the news, I saw a number of different ambulances down at that scene: Cataldo, Lifeline, McCabe, AMR, and Professional...

No News is Bad News

The WGGB story that I wrote about last week and some recent discussions with a few friends have gotten me thinking about the common media response that EMS services seem to have.  While there are some services out there that are leading the way and showing us what we need to do when it comes to public relations and the utilization of a public information officer, more times than not the attitude is taken that “no news it good news.”  That could not be farther from the truth.  No news means that you, as a community partner, are not doing your job. Not a month goes by that there is not some news story that an EMS service could add their input to.  For example, did you know that February was Heart Awareness Month?  What a great opportunity for paramedics and their leaders to talk about what a person should do when they start having chest pain at home. Another great two prong approach is to share the accomplishments and milestones of your service and your personnel with the community.  Do you have someone who has been working for the service for 25 years?  Write a press release about it, and invite the local paper to come interview them.  Have you gotten a new cutting edge piece of equipment or a new state of the art ambulance?  Invite a TV station over for a tour a demonstration.  Not only does the community get to see what you are up to, but you get to build a positive relationship with the press, and your people know that you are proud of them and want them to be in the spotlight. With so many media opportunities out there, everyone has a chance to talk about whatever they want.  Look at what I am doing right now.  I am blogging, and people are reading it and while not every entry into the media world whether it is social or traditional requires a response, an EMS service needs to be ready to say something besides “no comment.” If people do not know what happens when they call 9-1-1, that is the service’s fault, not the public.  They should...

A Chat with Brendan Monahan

Shortly after my post went up yesterday regarding WGGB Springfield’s story about AMR’s response time in the City of Springfield I received an email from reporter Brendan Monahan who did the story asking me if I wanted to talk about my concerns with the way WGGB depicted emergency response in Springfield, MA. Even before the story was aired Wednesday night on ABC 40, it had generated quite a buzz mostly on Facebook.  WGGB’s website received close to 400 comments and private messages in response to an inquiry looking for anyone who had waited more than 10 minutes for an ambulance to arrive after calling 9-1-1.  Some of those comments and messages were productive and informative others not so much, but such is the world of social media today. I had a very productive talk with Brendan lasting about 30 minutes.  The first thing that he wanted to point out was that his intention for this story was in no way to attack or offend any paramedics, EMTs, or anyone else affiliated with the industry.  His intention was to generate discussion about whether or not AMR should add ambulances to the upcoming contract, or if the city should consider making some changes.  He felt that he and the team at WGGB were presenting fact based information utilizing data that they had been given by the City of Springfield, and interviews with some officials with the city.  He acknowledged that the information I highlighted as what I felt to be most important in my response to his story was featured in Wednesday night’s segment, however it might not have been as prominent as I wanted it to be.  He stated, and I agree that as the reporter putting the story together, the structure of that story is his to determine. I shared with Brendan my feelings about the quality of response in Springfield as compared to other municipalities in the greater Springfield area as well as nationwide.  I tried to stress to Brendan that while 97% is not perfect, it not only exceeds Springfield’s standards, but it is also much better than some of the largest cities in the country, and if put up against other...

A Thought About Social Media. . .

In the digital age that we live in, it is becoming increasingly important for organizations and their leadership to embrace social media and use it to its fullest capability.  It is the fear of the unknown that really causes the problems that we see, and developing an organizational culture that promotes safe, appropriate use of social media is key. Take, for instance, the Facebook pages of Hennepin EMS in Minnesota and Boston EMS.  They do a great job of not only promoting their members but fearlessly advertising the successes of their organizations.  They report call volumes, medical advances, and in Boston EMS’s case, even tweeted a ride along day that was done a few months ago.  Bravo! While the press plays a key role in the public’s perception of EMS, with an increased emphasis on social media, blogging, and a means of making our own “press releases” we can, as a profession, dictate our own direction.  It is becoming more common for blogs to be just as well respected as some news outlets, and some of those outlets are even looking to bloggers to fill their printed pages with their online content. So how does an organization “get there?”  It starts with structure.  When people do not know what limitations and rules are set for them, they are more apt to push the envelope and see how far they can take things.  Remind them what is appropriate to post and what is not.  More importantly, remind them WHEN it is appropriate to be in their phone.  Nothing irks me more than when I hear about someone in the back of a truck answering a text or a Facebook message.  Let’s keep it confined to the downtime people! The key above all else though is to be responsible.  Think before you post.  That goes for status updates, tweets, pictures, anything you can think of.  While social media can be very useful, it can also present some challenges when the WRONG thing is posted.  Even if you take it down, there is a chance someone out there might have already captured it, and even if something is up for just a few minutes, someone is going...

Occupy EMS 2.0

Over the last month, I have been trying to follow the Occupy Wall Street movement.  I say “trying” because I have a tough time figuring out what their unified message really is.  Their communication attempts with the public have been highly ineffective and fractured.  No one seems to want to speak for the group, and all that seems to keep coming out is “down with big business!” Ironically, most of what I have read has been via social media through Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.  I must say, I find it rather amusing to see someone send a Tweet out about how bad corporate America is, and on the bottom of the box on Tweetdeck, it reads “Sent via Twitter for iPhone.”  That’s right: this person who is bad mouthing corporate America is paying a monthly bill to it to be able to share their message. Change takes time and efforts.  One Tweet I saw that I found to be particularly interesting was one that read: “I was promised a job, go to college, get a job is the promise, I did my part.”  If a person wants real accomplishment they cannot sit back and expect it to be handed to them on a silver platter.  There is a certain level of personal responsibility that comes along with it and sometimes things take a little more work than expected.  You cannot always expect people to meet you half way.  Sometimes, you need to go a little farther. Much like Occupy Wall Street, EMS 2.0 is a grass roots “bottom up” movement spearheaded by street providers to try and enhance their ability to do their job.  I think that there some important lessons that those of us who are invested in EMS 2.0 can take from what I feel are some glaring failures of the Occupy Wall Street movement: 1.  Have a message — Don’t just blindly demand change.  Know what you are asking for, and have someone who is willing to step forward and speak for the group.  Show your numbers, but have a plan! 2.  Don’t demand change, make it — Far too often, we look at those around us and above us and...