Volunteers

“Nothing is stronger than the heart of a volunteer.” Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle (led the “Doolittle Raid” on Japan in World War II)

Volunteering is something that I have always believed in.  Thanks to my dad’s example, volunteer fire service is in my blood.  After my wife and I got married, and I moved to the town she was living in, I joined the volunteer fire department.  I’ve since gotten my NREMT-B card and joined a volunteer EMS in a nearby town, in addition to working a full time job in EMS and preparing for paramedic school.  When school starts, I know I won’t have as much time for volunteering that I do now and I will miss it greatly.  I truly believe that volunteering for fire and EMS was one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made.

Volunteer fire and EMS seem to take a beating daily on the countless websites, blogs and message boards where their issues are discussed.  Some of my brother and sister career firefighters and EMS personnel tend to think that volunteer services are sub-par and those that are involved with such agencies aren’t even worthy to shine their boots.  I disagree.  Sure, there are some less than professional volunteer agencies and personnel out there.  However, I feel that I should point out that, at least in my experience, some of the most unprofessional firefighters and EMTs have been employed by paid services.  Yes, un professionalism exists in the paid services too.  Let me also say that all volunteer services should be held to the same standards as their career counterparts.  At my volunteer EMS, no one gets on the truck without a valid EMT card or EMS driver card.  At my volunteer fire department, members are expected to enroll in a firefighter certification class within one year of joining the department (of course, exceptions are made to allow for jobs and such but certification is still highly encouraged).  We take education, training and certification and I’m proud to be able to say that.

I’ve even taken heat for running on the volunteer EMS but, as I said, I feel it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.  At my paid service, I don’t get much patient contact (the paramedic is always the one in the back, no matter what kind of call it is).  When I run a volly call, we’re BLS so it’s normally an EMT and a driver.  I’ve gained many patient contacts by running on this truck and it’s helped me tremendously.  I feel that this something that has greatly helped to prepare me for paramedic school because of the care that I’ve been able to give by using the BLS skills I learned in Basic class.  I’ve learned how to do better assessments, take good histories, learned about drugs and learned how to do a better job of documentation.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve learned a ton at my paid ALS service and I’ve gotten to help the medics in many ways but I feel that the direct one-on-one patient care and contact has helped me get ready for paramedic school.

Fellow EMS blogger Chris Kaiser wrote a great piece about volunteer fire and EMS departments and you can read it here.  In it, he calls for all of us, regardless of affiliation, to put our differences aside and remember that we’re there to help the community and not ourselves.  I couldn’t agree with him more.

As long as volunteer agencies are held to the same standards as everyone else, they can be a vital asset in public safety and out of hospital care.  Next time you’re tempted to bash a volunteer or volunteer department, stop and think about why you want to give them grief.  Volunteers often are the ones who help the career folks out the most.

Rural EMT-B

Keep It Real

As I said before, I don’t post here as much as I would like due to school, work and family commitments.  As I start paramedic school in a few weeks, that will only get worse.  I will post as I’m about and when the mood strikes.  If you want – and I highly encourage this – follow me on Twitter.  Anytime I post I tweet a link for it.  I also will tweet any other random stuff I think of so join the party!

As I sit here thinking of all the scandals that have rocked EMS over the last few months, I can’t help but be angry at my brothers and sisters who have tried to pull off this junk and honestly think they wouldn’t get caught.  By far the biggest thing we’ve had going on lately is the scandal in Massachusetts involving EMTs and paramedics who presented false CE and refresher certificates when renewal time came.  In a story posted on The Boston Channel’s website, an EMT identified only as “Kim” (who was suspended by the state OEMS for nine months) feels that her punishment is unfair because the refresher “repeats everything and (they) didn’t put (anyone) in danger.”

Right before that, she was quoting as saying that if she broke the law she should be punished.

So let me get this straight:  You broke the law.  You bought forged documents saying you had attended training that you never attended, presented them to the state as being legit and yet you think you’re being treated unfairly?

Forgive me but I wouldn’t want you, or your ilk, anywhere near me or any truck that I’m even remotely associated with.

The fact is, these unethical practitioners did break the law and they should be punished.  Everyone coming to their defense needs to take a look at themselves in the mirror and ask if they are truly serious about defending this crap.  There are guidelines and laws that are followed and for good reason.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in EMS for three years or thirty years.  We can always use new and remedial training on our skills.  There are reasons why states and the National Registry require EMTs and paramedics to recertify every few years.  New techniques are developed to enable us to give better care to our patients.  Existing skills, such as CPR, ACLS, ITLS, etc., are often tweaked and it’s essential that we keep abreast of improvement of these skills.  Plus, we don’t always use every skill we learned in school and it’s always good to be reminded of how to do them and why.

Knowledge should be a never ending quest in EMS.  It is not a destination, rather it’s a journey.

I’m mad.  I’m mad at the example these “pros” set for rookies like me.  I’m mad at the fact that the public now will be more apt to question whether or not the person starting an IV on them or intubating their child is properly trained and competent to perform.  I resent the fact that these individuals have broken rules and laws and yet they think they are being treated unfair.  If I were head of EMS in Massachusetts they would really dislike me because my position would have been that their licenses should be revoked.  They’re fortunate that they’re being given the opportunity to make it right.  Of course they should be off the street until such time as they do complete their training because their recerts are about as good as the paper they’re printed on.

If ever you’re tempted to play this same game, I have some advice for you.  Don’t think about getting caught by the state, the Registry or even your supervisor.  Other than the lives you put at risk and the lies that you would live, I want you think of the rookie sitting next to you in the day room.  What kind of example are you setting for them as they embark on their EMS journey?  Do you really want them to go down the same path and give sub-par care

What those people have done to our profession is disgraceful.  If you think people look at us as a bunch of ambulance driving jockeys, keep this up.  We’ll never be more than a taxi service to them if we keep acting in this fashion.  We have got to do everything in our power to show ourselves as professionals and that certainly includes new and continuing education.

Get those CEUs.  It doesn’t hurt, I promise.

Rural EMT-B

The Handover: Downtime Edition

First, I evidently suck at posting regularly.  School and home commitments have taken up a lot of my free time lately.  I guess that’s going to be my life for the next year or so.

This is also my first post for The Handover, a blog carnival where us EMS folk do posts on a topic posed by that month’s host, throw them all in the pot ‘o blog and compare each other’s musings.  I love this idea and I hope to participate more as I’m able.  Actually, I just hope I can post more in general but that’s another story.

Downtime in EMS is a valued commodity indeed.  Some services don’t get much of it at all but I’m blessed in that our call volume generally allows us some rest between calls.  I would suppose that most of my activities during downtime would be pretty average.

First, anyone who works with me notices first that I’m constantly surfing the net on my phone.  I have an iPhone and it’s an awesome Internet enabled phone (but as popular as they are, I’m sure I didn’t have to tell you that).  Some of my favorite sites to surf are the usual social networking sites and I’m sure you can do the math on that.  However, there’s a site that I frequent that you may not be familiar with and it’s name is Fark.  Drew Curtis runs this news aggregate site and it’s truly amazing to see the stories that the users submit and that ultimately make it to the main page.  Even better than that would have to be the comments that the users of the site make about the links that are posted.  It’s just something you have to experience in order to fully understand so I hope that you’ll check it out.  I also text.  A lot.  Just ask my wife, she sees my cell phone bill usually before I do.

Aside from that, I seem to spend a lot of my downtime with my nose in my A&P textbook and class notes.  I’m taking both I and II over the summer and each class is four weeks.  Needless to say, it’s a lot of work and it’s quick.  Really it’s probably a lot like trying to pack five pounds of (manure) into a one pound bag but it’s working (so far!).  I actually somewhat enjoy it.  As much work as it’s been, I have enjoyed learning more about the human body and how it works.  My coworkers tease me, especially if I’m taking a break from studying, and tell me to get my butt back into the books but they really are being supportive.  Hopefully the citizens of the county will be just as supportive on my next shift and let me study!

Aside from that, I’ll watch TV, walk around my immediate area, call my wife or just do whatever I can think of at the moment.  We’re not allowed to go to our sleep rooms during the day so napping really isn’t an option (unless we ran a lot the night before – they want us to get at least six hours of sleep per 24 hour period).  However, keep in mind that I work at a hospital-based service so we often are helping with other things around the ED and such when we’re available.  I actually like it.  I can promise you there’s never a dull moment in our ED.

So that’s my downtime in a nutshell.  It may not be as awesome as some but it’s mine and I enjoy it.  If nothing else, maybe I’ll turn you into a Farker via this post.

Rural EMT-B

The Worst Possible Moment and Other Stuff

To say that it’s been a crazy couple of weeks would be the understatement of the year.

Between schedule changes, starting school and calls that leave you going “what the hell just happened,” I’ve been running ragged.  I’m holding down my couch, my wife is in the kitchen and I’m able to take a break from the goings on the world to take a break, write and just be a civilian.  I enjoy being the Rural EMT-B but I do also like being just Joe Citizen every now and then.

I’m not one to pat myself on the back but I think I deserve a break.

The biggest event recently was a really bad call I worked a couple of weeks ago.  It had been a slow day and I even got to go to bed a little early.  I was solo in this particular sleep room that night and I spent a good bit of the early evening watching some TV, playing around on the net and just enjoying some downtime.  I finally fell asleep about 2300 or so.  Then the phone rang and the voice on the other end was flat scared.  “We have a call and it sounds bad. Get down here NOW!”  So I get dressed real quick and rush downstairs.  My partner was already in the truck with the lights going and told me that he would drive.  As we get en route I notify dispatch that we’re gone and I finally ask him… what in the world are we going to?  “Car versus tree with fire and ejection.  The caller stated that the driver was on fire.”

Uh oh.

We get on scene and get to the patient.  To say he was “bad off” would be like calling the Sears Tower a shack.  Until that moment I had never seen a person burned so badly and still alive.  Yes, he was still alive.  I won’t go into any more specifics (for the usual reasons) but it honestly left me dazed.  I spent the rest of the night trying to get the back of the truck cleaned and just trying to take it all in.  I guess I was a bit more dazed than I realized because it turns out that I didn’t do such a good job of cleaning and restocking the truck after that call (and me and my supervisor had a nice chat about that).  At the end of shift I went home and slept literally all day, to the point that my wife was worried about me.  When I finally woke up that afternoon (yes, the afternoon) I kind of puttered around the house but wouldn’t really talk much.  I just couldn’t and didn’t say much of anything at all until the next day.

I was emotionally exhausted.

I finally let it all out and it felt good to do that.  Once my mind started to clear, I began to think about all the other aspects of the call, things other than issues directly related to patient care.  One aspect is that the driver’s father was present when the accident happened and he had to see him burn.  Also, one of the patient’s best friends was first on the scene when the fire department he is a member of was paged to assist.  It got me thinking about how we, as EMTs, are often present during the worst moments in a person’s life.  Not only might that person be the patient but it could be a family member or good friend who is watching them suffer, knowing there isn’t much that they can do to help.  Sometimes that person could even be a fellow crew member who’s having a “I’m not completely sure what to do here” moments.  As EMTs, we’re often there when the unimaginable has happened and may even see that moment happen.  We always have to be conscious of this fact.

We have to be prepared to care for more things than just what’s going on with the patient.  We have to be prepared to deal with what those around the patient may be experiencing.  Sure, our biggest concern (aside from ourselves) is the patient but we also need to acknowledge that others may be suffering with the patient in their own way.  It might be saying goodbye to granny as she’s losing her battle with breast cancer or watching as we try to bring back their aunt after she’s been in a MVC.  We also need to acknowledge that we also may have a moment during a bad call where we go, “what in the world do I do here” and take a moment to compost our thoughts so that we don’t get overwhelmed with the task at hand.

We’re often right there during the worst moments of someone’s life.  We have to be ready, able and willing to treat all aspects of that moment.  Think about that next time you’re called out.  It might be many people experiencing the event but only one patient hauled.

I did get to go back to school!  An arrangement was found in my work schedule to allow me to take a couple of prerequesate classes I needed to paramedic school.  If all goes well, I should be in medic classes starting this fall.  As I’m already experiencing, it will be a lot of work.  Currently I’m taking A&P I during the week and working a 48 hour shift Saturday and Sunday.  As I was reminded of this past weekend, study time is going to be at a premium.  I know that the story will be the same when I start paramedic classes but I’m ready for the challenge.  I’m thankful for the opportunity to pursue paramedic education and can’t wait for what lies ahead.

I also found out that this blog was mentioned in a list top EMT blogs!  The post was made on (editor’s note: I just discovered that the link I posted here yesterday now goes to another site. I’m not sure what’s up with this but if I find it again I will post it. Again, I sincerely apologize) and I have no clue who wrote it.  Regardless, I appreciate the kind words and that you even took the time to read this tiny blip on the radar screen of EMS blogs.  You don’t have to identify yourself but I hope that you will continue to enjoy reading my ramblings.  Hopefully I can squeeze in some blogging time more often.

Rural EMT-B

More Firsts, School and National EMS Week

A first occurred on my last EMS shift.  Thankfully it wasn’t as bad as the first I described in a previous post.  This first, while kind of annoying was interesting and, I’m sure, a true rarity in EMS.

My partner and I got woken up in the middle of the night for someone who was bleeding.  Right as I had gotten dressed and was about to zip up my boots, the phone rang again and we were told to cancel.  So, I get back in the bed and about 10 minutes later the phone rings again and we were told to roll after all.  So, we roll and as soon as we get out of the truck we’re met at the door by a very large man and I could tell that he was somewhat unhappy.  He tells us, “I told my son not to call you guys, I don’t need an ambulance.  Where do I sign so we can all go back to bed?”

WHAT?!

I was in disbelief.  Not that we got called to a house and the patient refused (this had actually been happening on my truck all day) but rather that we went to a house in the middle of the night and got a refusal.  This does not happen!  I’ve gone to houses for itching, a hangnail and even trouble sleeping and wound up hauling those patients.  This person bled and still refused?

Shock and awe!

And in case you’re wondering, they really didn’t need us or to go to the hospital.  It was a scratch but the son was worried because it kept bleeding (however there was not much blood involved – more of annoyance on the patient’s part).

Just thought I’d share that little tidbit.  Again, I don’t hear much of getting a refusal when called out in the middle of the night and this was the first time it had ever happened to me.

I also need to vent a little.  Well, maybe “vent” isn’t the right term because I’m not mad about this situation.  I am disappointed but I honestly can’t say I’m mad about it.  Anyway… I was hoping to go to paramedic school this fall but it doesn’t look like I’ll be going (unless something changes by the end of this week).  The problem I ran into was my works schedule.  Unfortunately, arrangements couldn’t be made that would allow both days in my normal shift to be covered and that would allow me to work weekends while I’m in school.  As I said, it’s OK.  I’ll have more time to get more experience and to take a couple of classes I needed before I started medic school.  All of this should lead up to me being more prepared when I enroll next year.

However, this situation did give some food for thought.

When someone is hired by a fire or police department, they, of course, have to obtain their respective certifications.  The department pays their tuition and other school related fees, they provide them a vehicle or otherwise pay for their transportation to and from the academy and they pay their salary while they’re completing their training.  If any additional classes are required (such as EMT-Basic in the case of many fire departments), they pay their expenses and accommodate their schedule.  The thought I pondered is why isn’t EMS the same way?  Sure, we are different from the fire and police departments but ultimately we are also an emergency service.  I’m not saying that EMS agencies should pay for someone to take their Basic class but it sure would be nice for most places to at least help someone wanting to obtain paramedic licensure.  Not only that, they should be more apt to accommodating schedules.  I realize that EMS is a 24/7 operation and must be fully staffed at all times.  However, the fire and police departments can pull it off so why not EMS?

The consensus in an informal poll I did on Twitter seems to be that many agencies leave it up to the employee to arrange shift trades or to take personal time off (and still arrange for someone else to cover the shift)  in order to take their classes.  While I understand this, I could also see the want and need for EMS to be more like the fire and police folks, in that they’re more likely to encourage a Basic to obtain further training by accommodating at least one or two students’ schedules per year..

However, keep in mind that I’m a little biased in this right now and I’m looking at this mostly from my point of view.

In other news, next week is National EMS Week.  I’ll make another post about that (hopefully) over the weekend.  Think of ways that you’d not only like to be thanked for all the sacrifices you make for others but also how you can recognize peers who go above and beyond.  Also, look for opportunities to educate the public about just what it is that we do.  I want to take this opportunity to thank all of the EMS people, including my dad, who have had and continue to have a hand in my development as an EMT.  I appreciate you all more than you know.  I also appreciate those who got the EMS 2.0 movement going.  Even though I’m still learning, I know that EMS needs to be overhauled and I’m thankful to be able to say that, in some small way, I’m a part of all this thunder that’s being made in all corners of the U.S.

Rural EMT-B

EMS Apathy

After spending most of yesterday in recovery from a near-sleepless night at the EMS, I logged on to Twitter today and noticed an interesting tweet from Chris Kaiser (@ckemtp on Twitter – an all around good fellow and follow, by the way).  It was a link to an article about apathy in EMS.  The article, entitled “Apathy in EMS is Pathetic” asks some hard questions that all of us in EMS should be asking ourselves:  “Do EMS providers really care about EMS, or is it just a temporary job until something better comes along? Is it just a young person’s game? Do EMS providers really care about the profession as a whole and worry about its future?”  Often I wonder the same things that Dr. Bledsoe asks in his article.  Why do so many EMS people seem to apathetic when it comes to their field?

When it comes to people in my area, I can’t help but think that a lot of them don’t speak up more for positive changes because “it’s just the way it is and the way it always has been.”  Evidently they’re not alone.  A survey conducted by JEMS indicates that, despite safety concerns, the average EMS shift in the cities surveyed in their 200 City Survey remains at 24 hours and a lot of that seems to stem from tradition.  Could you imagine what EMS would be like if we kept our protocols the same just out of tradition (and, to a degree, I’d speculate that some do).  Accepting the status quo is not always in the best interests of ourselves and certainly not in the best interests of our patients.  However, many of us do and a lot of that is because of the “it’s just always been that way” mentality.

I don’t know about you but I’m all for bucking tradition (whenever and however possible).

I wrote about EMS 2.0 in my last post and it’s very much inclusive of some of the issues that possibly lead to EMS apathy.  One think CK and I discussed earlier was the need to have better pay for EMS crewmembers and treatment that actually makes a difference.  I agree 100%.  Part of the overhaul of EMS will be addressing the factors that make EMTs and medics want to jump ship.  I know of several people who are working in EMS and in school for areas of study that have little, if anything, to do with EMS.  A lot of people see EMS as a stepping stone or as a means to collect a check while they’re in school.  If that’s what they want, that’s fine.  I’m not going to fault them if it’s really what they want.  However, I think we have too many people with that mentality and we need to do all we can to reduce those who will let their licenses lapse after they graduate from school.  We need to increase the number of people who truly care about EMS, its future, about making it better and, just as important, who are in it for long-haul.  We need people whose long term career plans are to stay in EMS for as long as they possibly can, be it on the front lines or in EMS education.

The pay thing is an important factor to address as well.  The last salary survey that JEMS performed is very telling.  Did you know that even within EMS itself there are big salary discrepancies?  The average EMT makes just over $28,000 and the average medic makes about $38,000 (the medic making more is understandable since they have more education than a Basic).  However, if you continue on to support staff, an IT manager makes about $68,000.  Wow.  Now, I’m not downplaying the training and long hours that IT people put in and they are very important to what we do.  However, I don’t like the huge gap in pay between those on the front line and someone who essentially works behind the scenes.  Those who are directly responsible for patient care should be paid better than they are.  Remember, these numbers are averages and many don’t make as much as the survey claims is the median.  Especially in settings like mine, a medic may not make even over $30,000 a year.  The lower pay is a slap in the face of those who are on the front line and who work long hours and spend so much time away from their families, compared to others who make more and work 9-5 Monday-Friday.

Changes will happen but it will take time.  It took nurses decades to get the respect and pay they have.  However, they earned their respect and higher pay.  Simply put, they insisted on more education and more accountability in their profession.  They demanded that they be allowed to give better patient care overall and they proved that they deserve what they’ve achieved.  I’m not saying that us in EMS haven’t earned respect but we, as a profession, haven’t done enough in the areas of education and accountability.  EMS 2.0 is a great step in the right direction but implementing it is going to take some doing.  We have to make it attractive to the decision makers in order to truly make this successful.  We can push for it all we want but we have to get our higher-ups on board in order to make it happen.  That’s where we take pages from nursing’s playbook and act accordingly.

What do you think can be done in order to combat apathy within EMS?  What can we do to improve our working conditions, pay and our ability to care for our patients?  How can we make EMS a legitimate career and profession rather than a stepping stone to something else?  Please feel free to leave your thoughts as a comment or you can email them to me (you can leave your name off if you wish).  I may use the ideas in another post in the future.

Rural EMT-B

Psych Patients, Trauma and EMS 2.0

As I write this, I don’t have my Word Press dashboard open so I have no idea how long it’s been since I’ve written something.  I know it’s been a good minute.  For some reason anytime I sit and try to write I get some kind of weird writers block.  I’ve had blogs before (and have a couple of others now) but it’s been happening no matter what I’ve been wanting to write about.  It’s been the strangest thing.  I sure hope it goes away.

At least let me get through this post.

My last shift was rather interesting.  I hauled a psych patient to a facility that is better equipped to handle the case.  The medic had our passenger calm during the whole ride, which was great considering that the PT had threatened to kill the E.R. doc before a transfer for a psych eval was arranged.  It seems the pt also was suicidal and had made at least a few attempts.  All in all, it was an uneventful transport and the pt even slept part of the way to the other hospital.  Now, my EMS brethren might be thinking “so? I do this everyday.”

Was your last suicidal and homicidal patient a peds case?

My pt was under 10.

How in the world does this happen?  There are a lot of conspiracy theories but who knows what’s really going on.  I just couldn’t believe that a kid, so young, would be in that state.  It made me somewhat sad but also made me wonder if some of those conspiracy theories might be true (one involves a relative having custody of him and turning him that way so she could get a check off of him).  That thought made me mad.  Regardless, I hope he’s getting help and that it’s not too late.  Otherwise he might just be a good candidate to be one of these people who are locked in the padded room for the rest of their lives.

I was chatting with an old friend the other day and we were doing the usual catch up stuff.  He asked what I’m doing these days and I told him that I’m an EMT and hoping to get into medic school this fall.  “Oh, so you’re an ambulance driver.”  I tried to explain to him that there was a difference but his opinion is that of so many people around us.  You know the opinion that all we are is a fancy taxicab with loud sirens and pretty red lights.  It’s sad that people don’t see us as real medical practitioners but that’s going to take some time.  That’s why I wholeheartedly support the project known as Chronicles of EMS.  It’s a show that follows medics and EMTs while they’re doing their jobs.  This is a reality show, not some piece of garbage like Trauma on NBC (more on that in a minute).  It shows EMS for what it is and that doesn’t give in to the stereotypes that the fictional shows give (and thus is believed by Joe Public).  If you haven’t checked it out yet, I highly encourage you to do so.  It’s all part of the EMS 2.0 movement, one of the many steps in the process.  This is the step that seeks to educate the public in what it is that EMS does and helps them to see that, yes, we are real medical practitioners.  It will be nice when the day comes that we’re seen as a legitimate part of the medical community and not just a transport service.

Now some thoughts on NBC’s Trauma:  Trauma is a fictional (yes, I know it’s meant to just be a show) that follows some fictional members of an EMS in San Francisco.  It not only shows them “in action” (you’ll understand why I call it that in a moment) but it shows all the stuff in between (their personal lives).  I have no problem with that; in fact I think that’s a good point of the show.  That said, a lot of the stuff they show while the characters are on duty is just plain insane.  Numerous times they show sex in the back of the truck or in the station and all types of unprofessional behavior (including letting some poor dispatcher have it for a problem that’s beyond her control).  Some of the medical practice they show is dodgy at best and a lot of the things the characters do would get licenses revoked in a lot of cases.  The worst part: At the end of one episode they had the audacity to show the following message just before the credits:

“Dedicated to the men and women of Emergency Medical Services.”

Honestly, I was somewhat offended by that.  They just got finished showing an episode full of unprofessional and outright reckless conduct by the characters and yet they want to dedicate that garbage to us?  I was floored.  Again, I realize this is “just a show” but think about how police officers feel about shows like Law and Order and how doctors feel about Grey’s Anatomy.  These shows make them look just as unprofessional and I know of a lot of people who don’t like those shows for those reasons.  That’s how I feel about Trauma… they make us look like loose cannons and then have the nerve to say the show is dedicated to us.  It’s unreal and it’s degrading.

I mentioned EMS 2.0 a few minutes ago and lots of people wonder about it.  Pretty much, it’s a grassroots movement by EMS people themselves to improve our neck of medical practice from the ground up.  That’s everything from dispatch to protocols to QA.  It also calls for education and licensing (yes, licensing, not certification) standards to be increased at all levels of EMS.  It also includes demanding better working conditions and much deserved respect.  Better patient outcomes, more options for the EMT or medic as far as treatment goes and, ultimately, the recognition of EMS as a real profession and not a trade.  As the name suggests, EMS 2.0 is a complete overhaul (or reboot if you want to keep with the computer metaphor) of EMS as a whole.  The system isn’t dead but it could stand to be improved.  What needs to be done is keeping and improving that which works, throwing out what doesn’t work and giving us even more tools.  One of the things I’d love to see is the ability for a paramedic to use his clinical knowledge (gasp!) and make a determination on whether or not the patient really needs to be transported to the hospital, if the patient can be treated right where they are or if alternate transport to the patient’s primary doctor or other appropriate medical service can be arranged.

I’m all for anything that can make EMS better and where I can be of more use.  I’m hoping to start paramedic school this fall because I want to be the most use to my patients that I possibly can be.  I also plan to continue my education further after paramedic but I haven’t decided exactly what I want to do just yet.  The betterment of EMS is something that everyone, including those in EMS and the general public, should strive for.

Rural EMT-B