Thank you everyone! Yesterday when I posted “A Slap in the Face to Paramedics Everywhere?” I recorded my biggest traffic day ever by at least one thousand visitors. I’m honored. Thank you for coming and reading this and thank you for caring about EMS. Especially, thank you those who left such intelligent comments and added to the debate. We who care about our profession need people who are passionate, intelligent, and who are ready to work alongside of us to improve who we are and what we do. By participating here and in the wider EMS blogosphere, you’re helping spread the ideas that we need to spread. Read, Talk, Learn, and Think. Make this the profession you want it to be.
I’m going to repeat that above statement: “Make this the profession you want it to be”
And there lies the true meaning of what I wrote yesterday. Sure, I was mad about the perceived encroachment by nurses onto our professional “turf”, and sure I played my anger up into what I thought would be something to fire you up as well, but there was a message there that not everyone may have gotten.
I know that there are good nurses out there that know a lot about a lot of stuff. A lot of them do a great job in the field within their scope and their experience in such things as neonatology, pediatrics, and critical care has proven invaluable to me on a lot of occasions. Yes, like each and every medic out there I can speak volumes about the times I’ve seen and worked with nurses who seem to be lacking vital chromosomes, but I’ve seen members of every profession that seem to have written their final exams in crayon. It’s no different when I am staffed alongside an idiot partner of the EMT persuasion… give me a smart nurse in their place any day.
However, my beef is this: Why is it necessary that a nurse need ever step into the field? The times I’ve had to carry one in the back of my rig have been mainly because of protocol deficiencies, where the EMS system I was working in at the time didn’t allow me to transport a specialized piece of equipment that was attached to a patient or to administer medications that were beyond the normal scope of the field. Now days, my EMS system allows me to transport pretty much anything and I’ve personally taken the steps to educate myself on the less-common things that I see. However, I’ve grabbed a nurse on occasion when called to transport multiple uncommon medications along with unfamiliar equipment. I’ve never been too proud to ask for help when I wasn’t fully confident in my abilities to fully handle possible eventualities with the patient. It’s not about my ego, it’s about patient care. I live by that motto. However there is no reason, in my opinion, that a paramedic cannot take the education necessary to become experts in any and every aspect of out-of-hospital care. It’s our bread and butter and the thought that our skills are lacking causes me concern. Whatever you call it: inter-hospital, pre-hospital, field, or other care… Paramedics are supposed to be the experts at that in my opinion and I want us to take the steps to ensure that we are so.
If you were angered by the actions of this ambulance service plastering their truck with the phrase “Staffed by Nurses”, that’s good. You should have been. Be angry at the management of that service for existing in a system that they haven’t changed for the better so that they don’t have to use nurses for things that paramedics should be doing. Be angry at their EMS system and their state for limiting their paramedics’ scope of practice and education so that they cannot be used to adequately staff the truck. Then, be angry at each and every one of us for not taking the ownership of our profession so that we can step up and dictate what is best for the patient’s we serve.
Is that petty “turf preservation”? Maybe. However we need some of that. For us to have pride in our profession we need to take the steps necessary to own what we are supposed to own. If we can see our profession lacking the necessary educational background, skills, or just plain old gumption to fix a problem, then we have to band together to do the work needed to fix it. The fact that this service and this system are thinking that having and advertising a “special” truck, “Staffed by Nurses” is a good idea is representative of a bigger problem, and that bigger problem must be handled by our people stepping up and handling our deficiencies so that we can solve the problem. We must improve the education, improve our skills, and improve our public perception so that people trust us beyond just the feel-good perception we have as “life saving” “ambulance drivers”.
You’ve heard me, Justin “the Happy Medic” Schorr, Mark “Medic999” Glencorse, and many, many others talking about EMS 2.0 over the last year. Well, this is part of it. My version of EMS 2.0 involves us paramedics taking ownership of problems like these and taking the necessary collaborative steps to fix them. We have to do just that if we want to advance. Now is the time for us to analyze the problems, dissolve the political boundaries, do the necessary work, and collectively grow up as a profession.
And fixing management philosophies that view us as contemptible morons is first.
One last comment, I got a link in a fascinating article by the Nursing Show ran by my buddy Jamie Davis. You should read it, it’s a good way to see how the nurses take this.
Also, for more of my thoughts on the state of EMS in the State of Illinois, check out “Dear Illinois EMS”