Who are we?

I was watching the movie Across the Universe a week or so ago. And one of the quotes from the movie struck my interest when it comes to EMS.

Uncle Teddy: Because, Maxwell, what you do defines who you are.

Max: No, Uncle Teddy, who you are defines what you do, right Jude?
Jude: Surely it’s not what you do, but it’s the…the way that you do it.”
That symbol up there should be familiar to almost everyone who reads this blog. It’s the Star of Life. The symbol most used to represent the prehospital medical profession. We most likely see it daily. On our uniforms, our ambulances, our equipment, and even sometimes on ourselves.
So I’m going to turn that quote around a little bit. What do you think? Does that symbol define who we are, since so many of us are so passionate about what we do? Or do we help define what that symbol means to the public at large? I know if you show some member of the general public the ‘Maltese Cross’ (which really isn’t a maltese cross, but that’s a whole nother topic) the first image that strikes them is big fire trucks or firefighters with air packs running into a burning building.
Personally, for the past 3 years, that blue star has helped me define who I am. I’ve had some rough points since basically flunking out of college in my first year, and since then I’ve been able to dive into EMS to forget about bad things that happen. From day one in EMT class I knew I’d found something I loved, even to the point of getting a blue star of life tattooed on the back of my shoulder the week after I got my state card in the mail.
So, yes I am a little bit defined by what I do. I love helping people, I love working with people and getting to know them so well they are just like family, I love the feeling of actually belonging somewhere. And I also love the feeling of brotherhood that does tend to crop up from time to time. Due to the splintered and fragmented way EMS is provided in this country it’s not a thing like fire departments or police departments have, but it’s there in it’s own way. EMTs come together when one of our own is in need, and that’s good enough for me. I’m proud to be part of such a family.
But at the same time, also feel that one of our duties is to be the ones to define our jobs. A lot of our newer EMTs (which I’m not so far removed from. I still feel like a baby EMT at times) come into this job expecting lights, sirens, explosions, blood, and guts every shift. Those of us who have been around a little longer know better. Those calls are fun, but they can also be the cause of a lot of our nightmares.
The truth of our services is that the majority of our calls are ‘sick’ calls. That can range anywhere from a 21 year old with a low blood sugar to a 91 year old woman having an acute cardiac event. None of these calls are as glamorous as I’m sure the newbies have been lead to believe, but they are essential in shaping EMS into what we want it to be seen as.
Those younger EMS providers like me, @EMTGoose, @MsParamedic, among lots of others out there, are the ones who are going to be responsible for shaping EMS into what it hopefully will mature into. Our profession is still a young one, and we are having our share of growing pains. But when you’re out on a call, think. “How do we define what we do, because of what we’re making it?” and try to act like you want to make this a respected career in the medical field.
So, for now yes. I am defined by what I do, and I’m proud of that fact. I’ll continue to get called an EMS Nerd and try my best to soak up every bit of knowledge I can for the good of my patients. But on the other hand, I AM EMS. Every single one of us out there riding the trucks and walking into the scenes are EMS. Maybe Jude had the right of it. It’s really not what you do, it’s how you do it that’s the most important.
And lastly, just like each and every one of you out there reading this (I hope), I am EMS 2.0 just like each and every one of you.
  • Ckemtp

    Wait… are you saying that I’m not a young EMT??? Hey wait! I’m still.. oh God I’m old… Gah!

    You’re very right though. People don’t know what we do because we as a profession have FAILED to define ourselves as one. It’s the new generation like you (and me!?!) that will define us into the future.

    I am EMS 2.0 too

    • http://transportjockey.com/ Transport Jockey

      You’re going to be one of the first generations of chiefs and administrators that gets where us younger ones are coming from though :) So you are EMS2.0 too!

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  • http://www.russreina.com Firetender

    One of the things I adored while being a medic was that it used EVERY part of me.

    It was physically taxing, pock-marked with periods of excruciating boredom, required me to master the arts of communications, logistics, control, release, improvisation, demanded I become technically adept, incredibly perceptive, and very sly. It tested my patience, my compassion, my ability to love and accentuated hateful feelings and despair. It introduced me to worlds of the spitir and flesh and conflicts between my head and heart that I never even knew existed.

    In short, I have found no profession or occupation before or since that has reflected so clearly the experience of being human or challenged the limits and boundaries of my humanity so consistently!

    • http://www.russreina.com Firetender

      it’s “spirit” not “spitir”!

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