After having read the article by Marjorie Stiegler, MD entitled “Stop the hostility among health care professionals,” I wanted to talk briefly about a group that was not mentioned, but needs to have a voice speak out for them. The EMTs and paramedics that serve this country as paid professionals and volunteers in ambulance services and fire departments all over this nation.
Yet, I sometimes find that EMTs and paramedics are seen as quasi-health care providers. We are not quasi-anything. The men and women that go through the training are dedicated to preserving human life, providing high-quality care, and often followup on patients after they put them in the care of more highly trained professionals. We are just as dedicated to learning and improving our skills and practices as any other person in the medical profession. Our patients outcome is just as important to us as it is to any other health care professional. We are required to continue to learn and have our skills retested every two years, or we lose our licenses as well.
Some of us volunteer in medical reserve corps across the nation. There we rub elbows with doctors, nurses, and medical directors. We take monthly classes taught by those same doctors and nurses to improve our medical knowledge and understanding. Though not formal medical training we pick up a lot thorough being with these professionals and we take what we learn seriously.
As an EMS teacher, I stress to all my students that when we start with a patient, we are the eyes, ears, and hands of the emergency room physician until we can get the patient to them. We are to take the utmost care to do as accurate an assessment as we can in the field. Whether the field is a home with family looking on, a car wreck with lights and sirens blaring from fire engines and police vehicles, or on scene like the shooting in San Bernardino, California. We in the profession do our best to provide for those patients and give the receiving emergency room our field impression so that they are prepared to take over for us and do what we cannot do for the patient.
We are proud to be EMTs and paramedics and try to show that in all we do. Like the doctors and nurses of days gone by, we carry our expanded first aid kits in backpacks in our cars and respond to accidents and emergencies in off duty hours. Lives are saved when we are on the scene and taking care of the life threatening basics of the patient. We have great respect for doctors, nurses, and others in the health care profession of any stripe or name.
So the next time you hear the ambulance roll by on the road way or pull into your receiving area, please remember we are part of the whole emergency team.
James D. Turner is an emergency medical services provider.
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