Missing the forest for the trees

Coming up on EMS week 2014 and I was having a thought.

So, we see these nice stories in the academic EMS journals 10th grade reading level glossy magazines aimed at the adrenaline junky, hero craving portion of our industry. All about things like aeromedical and how they truly matter and such. And always, hidden away somewhere is some story about something that really matters. About these places that truly get it and have stopped placing patients in the torture, abuse treatment known as spinal immobilization.

There’s some halfhearted attempt at making it sound, rightfully so, like that should become the standard. And you talk to any of these so called high performance EMS despots leaders and you get some politician worthy lip service about how they’ll look into it.

If we want to be worthy of this years’ EMS week theme of “Dedicated. For Life” then maybe we should try and live up to it. Let’s lose the hero tag, lose the adrenaline junky tag. Let’s get past the “leaders” that crave nothing more than to be a media darling and some good old career advancement.

Instead, let’s drop all that. Drop the ridiculous posturing and turf wars. Drop the “we’ve always done it that way” arguments. Let’s stop missing the forest for the trees. Let’s treat our patients. Treat them fairly, correctly, with science and not always what they or someone else wants, but what they need.

Let’s stop missing the forest for the trees.



So, this is simply an opinion, no facts really to back it  up, just anecdotes from myself and many I know across the country.  Why is it that we are constantly running Code 3 to all this nonsense.  There’s this graduated response system built into MPDS and you know that Joe blow is calling because he’s drunk and wants a sandwich.  You make it an Omega, you still send us, and you send us Code 3?

So, when we go through that red light and the kid jumps from behind the parked car and we can’t stop and kill him, how’s that going to look on the 11 o’clock news?  “Ambulance kills child while responding to local drunk”.  Sure, we can say you could drive slower, etc.  But, in so many systems, if you don’t make the times, your service gets penalized, usually monetarily.  And, if you’re the only responsible one, that means you get to be the sacrificial lamb eventually.

Integrity? Principles?  Those are all great, but let’s face it, most people in Fire/EMS don’t have a lot of responsibility with money and such, and as such we usually can’t afford to be without a job.  So the employer wins.


Therein lies today’s question.  Are we really here to do what is the best for the patient?  Or are we here to be a PR machine/appease the lawyers and accountants, medicine and science be damned?  I know this is EMS heresy, and frankly I don’t care.