Trust Is A Currency

When we think of currency we tend to think of money. Some of the more intellectual or business minded in the group may also ponder time, resources and commodities as well.

Anything that can be traded between humans that has value or worth is a currency. If it holds mutual value and can be offered or denied, it’s a currency.

Trust is a currency. You may not have ever thought of it that way, but it is. It’s the currency that underlies all others. Take away trust and the dollar becomes worthless, our time becomes meaningless (to others) and our resources don’t matter.

Power and authority are currencies as well, but they are just as vulnerable as every other currency to the trust/value equation.

We should think about that when we read stories about people dying in snow storms after calling 911 ten times, paramedics lying about their treatments when things go wrong and EMT’s walking away from seizing pregnant women. We can argue about the details and the operational minutia, but it doesn’t make the story go away.

Trust is a currency.

What do you think about that?

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  1. Theresa Jones says:

    Trust is indeed everything. This is something that I harp on from day one with all of my newbies. It does good to remind us old timers too. Folks trust us to do what’s right and act accordingly. Once you’ve lost that trust, you done for. Trust is huge and one of the most imporstant things in emergency care. Like airways, if you don’t have it, you’re in trouble. Great post.

  2. Capt. Tom says:

    Trust is not given, it is earned and usually over a long period. It is an investment you make in yourself with your partners, co-workers, and community. You can blow it in just a few ill choosen words, or one ill thought move.
    In the case of community trust, you earn this as a group, so all can be working to earn the currency, while a single individual can be blowing it for everybody.
    In my mind, trust is worth more than money. It means you will trust me to do the right thing, even when you aren’t watching.
    My 2 cents,
    Capt. Tom

  3. Steve Whitehead says:

    @Theresa Jones We can do our jobs in a low trust environment, but it certainly makes everything a whole lot harder doesn’t it? Thanks for your comment.

    @Capt. Tom It’s difficult to say what the sum total of damage is to the public trust when these stories hit the media. I imagine it’s tremendous. We’ll never really know. Thanks for coming by Cap.

  4. Sean Fotaine says:

    Trust and its total value has been driven home for me by walking into a polarized scene where bystanders, PD, FD, etc, hasn’t necessarily helped de-escalate the scene and you take account of your surroundings, make eye contact, approach your pt, ask their name/tell them yours, and calmly assess and listen to them as they describe why they called today. You can usually feel the scene de-escalate and the pt is willing to hear what you have to say regarding the next steps in your plan for their medical care. That willingness to listen, both us and them, is golden and shows the trust you’re talking about. Good post, somehow this gets lost on many people who think that to take control of a scene, they merely have to tell people what to do without establishing a rapport.


  1. […] Whitehead explains that trust is a currency. I find that to be profoundly true, since it’s value can be traded up or down, exchanged, and […]