There has always been plenty of talk about what needs to be done to improve the EMS industry. Rallying congress, petitioning governing boards, starting campaigns and pushing for legislation are all good things, but they only address a smart part of what needs to change. The biggest answer to our problems isn’t the pencil pushers and paycheck signers, it’s the person looking back at you in the mirror. It’s the face the patients and public see when your ambulance rolls up on scene. It’s the front-line representatives of our industry. It’s you, me and everyone else working on the ambulances, riding in the fire engines or even flying around in fancy helicopters. We ARE the industry. We ARE the people on the ground delivering the care. Therefore WE are the ones that need to take action TODAY.
Sound dramatic? Take a look around, and not just at your service, but everywhere. Are you happy with where we are as an industry? If not, then it’s time to start being the change that we need!
Take Care of Yourself
If your life is in shambles, there’s just no possible way that you can be the provider that your patients really deserve. I know because I’ve been there. Hell, I’m and in and out of there. I’m constantly trying to improve my life. Where I changed was about a year or so ago when I quit making excuses for the problems in my life.
Feel like you’re broke? Learn how to budget, start paying off debt and save. Feel tired, sluggish, exhausted and out of shape? Then start eating healthy, exercising and taking control of your health. Your situation is not your employers fault because you don’t think they pay you enough or they don’t provide free gym memberships. Think you’re stuck? E-mail me. I’ll show you how to budget and how to stay healthy without spending a dime. (I’m dead serious) firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ve started 2 free groups to help first-responders take care of themselves. #MoneySmartMedics for money management and #TeamMedicMadness for health and fitness. Both are on Facebook and Google Plus. If you honestly think that your finances or health could use some work, let me know. I’m doing my best to make sure everyone has the resources they need to take control. Nothing fancy, just my attempt and systematically removing every excuse I can.
Never Stop Learning
Kelly Grayson nails it when he says that there are not a lot of people with 20 years of experience in EMS. What we have are a bunch of people with 1 year experience, repeated 20 times. I’m no exception here. I don’t think I hit my true 2nd year of experience until after my 4th year as a paramedic. Like many others in this field, I got my paramedic license and figured I was good to go. Medicine is a constantly evolving science and when we choose not to keep up, we accomplish nothing but short-changing our patients and giving ourselves a bad name.
There’s plenty of excuses out there and none of them are worth a damn. So what if you’re employer doesn’t provide continuing education courses? Half of those stupid card classes are based on outdated science and do nothing but place your brain tightly inside of a steel box that’s seemingly impossible to think outside of. Get out and learn something today!
Pick a home medication that you know nothing about, fire up your smartphone and learn everything you can about it. Repeat steps 1 and 2 until you run out of home medications to learn.
Find a medication that you haven’t administered in a long time and mentally run yourself through scenarios where you would actually draw it up, calculate drips, etc. Once again, repeat steps 1 and 2 until you run out of medications to practice.
Open up your protocol book and find every procedure and scenario that you possibly can and honestly ask yourself: “Am I an EXPERT on [fill in the blank]”. If the answer is no, then get to learning, asking, reading, watching and practicing.
Read. Read. Read. Read. Read. Go to one of the bazillion EMS educational sites and start reading up on new studies, case reviews, panel discussions, etc. I don’t have to tell you where to find them. You already know. You just haven’t been doing it.
Be a Representative of the Industry
Every time you step into the public’s eye wearing anything resembling EMS, you are representing the industry. Take 10 extra minutes every day to make sure you are groomed, pressed, polished and looking your absolute best. I don’t care if you employer mandates it or not, you should have higher standards for yourself than your employer does. When you’re out in public on the clock, act like a professional. We are all guilty of slipping up in this category and I’m not excluding myself. We all need to step up our game.
Going to a bar on Friday night? Leave your EMS shirts at home. I don’t care if they have your employers logo or not. It looks bad on the entire industry. There’s nothing wrong with going out and tying one on, but leave your career out of it.
Be the Example
With many services experiencing high turnover rates, it’s no secret that our industry is being flooded with newcomers. This isn’t a bad thing! This is our opportunity to make a positive influence and actually create a society within the industry of good attitudes, caring providers, and actual critical thinkers.
Take the time to make sure that the newcomers are being influenced by the right people. You know, like YOU? If you see bad behaviors developing, take action! Lead by example. Remember, the youth of our industry are also the future of our industry. It’s up to you to decide what they do with it. If you don’t care enough to ensure that our industry has a bright future, then it’s time for you to go. We don’t have room for you anymore.
I know this post seems harsh, but the truth hurts. I’m not writing this from a position of looking down on anyone. I include myself in everything that I write. It’s time for ALL OF US to step up our game.
It’s go time.