A Deep And Abiding Respect

In the debate over how to make our EMS systems and ourselves better at what we do, there is an underlying danger that’s worth mentioning.

After we’ve examined the research, explored the systems and best practices, fought to advance our scope of practice, supported competence, raised minimum standards and advanced ourselves as a profession, there is an underlying danger that we should mention.

There’s a pitfall that we should take care to avoid.

The danger is that we may begin to do our work for the sake of the work itself, instead of for a deep and abiding respect for life. Life in general and the lives we specifically serve.

We strive for competence, not out of a misguided need to build ourselves, but out of an earnest desire to be capable of meeting the needs of the patient.

We seek knowledge, not to feel or sound superior in clinical conversations or worse, to make our coworkers feel inferior. We seek knowledge so that we can bring it to bear on our patients condition and understand what they need to be whole again.

We want our systems to be more efficient, not to make our jobs easier, but to better serve our citizens.

We want to advance our scope of practice, not to improve our compensation or our worth, but to broaden the tools at our disposal in the service of our patient.

We pay attention to research, not because it allows us entrance in to a privileged, high-brow debate over efficacy. We mine the research for evidence that will guide us, like a light in the dark, to better serve our patients.

Our work is meaningful in-and-of itself because we exist to serve. The path to the future is far from clear. The debate about what we should do next is complicated. It will require patience. It will demand our time and thought.

What we should do next is complicated. Why we should do it isn’t

The patient is the why. They are worthy of our service. All of them. Our respect for the lives we serve is the infinitely compelling why.

There is no finish line. There is no end to the fight. There’s only progress. Because we’re not fighting for ourselves. We never were. We’re fighting for the patient.

Now it’s your turn: I’d like to know what you think about that.

Or…Just Keep Reading:

Passion Counts


A Man of Honor

Be Remarkable

Who’s Going To Stop Me?


  1. Dynamic, evolving, forever changing. That’s the name of the game. That’s why it’s called “practicing” medicine, because by the time you get it down perfect.. it just changed. Great post!

  2. I was studying the research simply because discovering things is interesting to me. How do you actually do the work for the patient and not for the work itself?

    “We seek knowledge, not to feel or sound superior in clinical conversations or worse, to make our coworkers feel inferior.” Until the other day I viewed research as a way to get to talk about EMS without working in EMS.

    As I’m thinking about this post I don’t see how to think about my EMS Compare Initiative work in terms of helping patients. To me the people I’m trying to help are the EMS administrators.

    BTW your view of EMS 2.0 more as symbolizing accelerated change helped me hammer out a bunch of future blog posts. I have one based directly on accelerated change that might be up this evening.

    Thanks for the great post. Now I’m asking myself how do I focus on what really matters aka patients?

  3. One issue I see in this is the public. Well not really them, but there perception of us. Yes we all want bigger and better things for the industry, so we can deliver a more comprehensive and appropriate level of care to our patients. But is that what our Patients want?
    Do they know there is another, and possibly better way of doing things? I don’t think so. The public, at least in my experience feels that as long as an ambulances arrives “quickly” and the patient gets to the hospital then the system is working. Be cause that is all they know and have come to expect. Many people are unaware of our capabilities even at this point. And this is where public education comes in. It’s one thing to have a group of field providers campaign for change, or have an agency demand more from their system. But imagine a public voice. When a city, or a county, or even a whole state goes to their representatives and demands better EMS. It has worked for fire and police, and it will work for us.


  1. […] http://theemtspot.com/2010/03/18/a-deep-and-abiding-respect/ – Steve Whitehead knocks this one out of the park by writing why it’s easy for us to know why we should improve our care, a deep and abiding respect for human life. […]

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