Earlier this month, Dr. Rose Owens penned an open letter to EMT’s and paramedics across the country. She posted it in the Facebook forum “Paramedics on Facebook”. As a paramedic, Dr. Rose sees prehospital caregivers from the inside as well as from her position in the ER. This makes her observations so important. Her words are an interesting insight into our profession from an “outside” perspective. I post them here with her permission and blessing and I offer them without further commentary.
Dear POF Readers,
I was an EMT, then a Paramedic. Then I went to medical school and I’m your ER resident. I still carry my paramedic license because I was very proud to earn it, and I read this page and follow it because I am also an EMS educator.
You don’t know how carefully I watch and listen to my Paramedics and EMT’s–how much trust I put into your radio reports and skills. You don’t see me watch your skills to see what else I can learn, what else I can do to enhance the care you started. You don’t see me have a talk with the nursing staff, off to the side, over coffee later in the shift when I’ve seen them blow you off or disregard your information and skills. You don’t see me defend you to EMS directors, Chiefs, or your supervisor and you don’t see me go to bat for you when you may have screwed up. Those Christmas presents from the ER–that came out of my personal income because I remember being where you were and I like you. And I respect you.
You ARE my hands and eyes and ears outside of my safe domain of the emergency room. To the patient, you are an extension of my skills and knowledge. I have to trust you implicitly when I give orders to a patient I’ve never laid eyes on.
So I watch you. I watch the way you treat your partner, I watch how careful you are with equipment. I watch your body language, I hear the words that come out of your mouth. I observe the extra time you spend greeting people when you walk through the ER or down to the cafeteria. I honor you when you come to me and question my orders, or why I choose a certain protocol or did a certain skill. I respect you when you apologize if you feel you’ve screwed something up.
So when I see the EMS staff using foul language, kicking trash cans down the hallway, complaining about their salaries, and quipping dirty jokes in the run report room, I always take a step back. I realize the pressure you’re under and I think be glad you’re in a state with good pay, and I realize we all need to blow off steam. However, those things are best done appropriately, in your quarters, or worked off in a gym, or off shift.
Why? Because I can’t trust an angry medic, I can’t be comfortable with an EMT who throws tantrums. I won’t give you extra responsibility, I won’t go to bat for you with your superiors when you trash talk patients.
I read your comments, I listen to what ALL of you are saying, all over the country on this site. I want you to know that at least here in small town USA, your ER doctor, tired as she may be, exhausted as she may be has been where you are and understands.
But if you want to be treated totally professionally, you must act it all the time.
Still proud to be a paramedic.