Facebook: Faculty of Medicine

Normally I’m not a huge fan of Facebook Groups, especially the one’s that feel the need to post numerous times though out the day. Then there’s the Faculty of Medicine page. What makes the Faculty of Medicine page different is that they’re posting pictures of various clinical pathologies and asking for a diagnosis. It’s essentially a daily quiz of various chronic and acute diseases that could easily be seen on the ambulance without the need to decode lab tests or clinical vignettes (“pathognomonic” being the 5 cent word). It’s free to join, and you never know when one of your patients will remind you of one of their cases.

Posted in Clinical EMS, Education | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Why some discussions are more pertinent than others

As the “Great Online Ambulance Driver Blog War of 2012”™ winds down, over at The Social Medic Dave disagreed with my elevating the discussion on “Kidnapping Patients” to a higher level than use of the term “ambulance driver.” I need to take a minute to explain why I think one topic is more important than the other because it doesn’t have to do with the topic, but the message. Unfortunately, this does require splitting some fine hairs.

The first thing we need to do is define who our audience is. For EMS blogs, that audience is paramedics (inclusive). The general public is not going to normally find their way to EMS blogs no more than I’m going to find my way to blogs discussing the finer aspects of celebrity fashion. Furthermore, among paramedics I’m going to generalize that there are really two different opinions when it comes to the term “ambulance driver.” There’s the “Aww, heck no, I ain’t no ambulance driver” group and the “Shrugs, whatever” group. Very few people, with maybe one notable and cheeky fellow, are going to support the use of the term “ambulance driver.” This leads the discussion to a “preaching to the choir” situation where everyone pretty much agrees before hand, but it’s not really the group that needs to get the message.

Here’s where the fine hairs are split. Personally, I’m of the opinion that one of the big reasons why paramedics are called “ambulance drivers,” “EMS providers,” “emergency workers,” or a whole host of other rather generic terms is because we’ve failed to give a single term. Can’t call EMTs a paramedic or vice versa least someone gets offended because they’re not that level. A discussion, however, on what the generic term for “EMS providers” should be is something worth discussing since it is in our power to choose what words we, as individuals, use when interacting with the general public. This is something that the audience for EMS blogs can change in themselves, as well as spreading the message to others. Personally, in this case I’m taking the Canadian solution and using the term “paramedic” for the generic term.

Furthermore, by deciding on a generic term, we’re working towards fixing the problem instead of just complaining that the problem exists. It’s the difference between constructive criticism and simple criticism.

Similarly, the discussion on kidnapping/false imprisonment/patient’s rights is vastly more important than simply discussing the use of the term “ambulance driver” since it also can directly affect how we treat our patients. Additionally, it’s much more likely to generate useful discussion as this is the type of issue that will likely get passed along to management and medical control. Given the moral, ethical, and legal issues involved (patient’s control of medical care vs paternalism), it’s an issue that needs to be decided and accepted (unaccepted mandates tend not to be followed) by the crews before it occurs in the field. This is the sort of issue that cannot and should not be decided on an ad hoc basis during a call, and is the reason why it’s vastly more important than discussing a random person calling us “ambulance drivers.”


Other people using “ambulance driver”= not in the audience’s control.

The generic term we use = in the audience’s control

Balancing the patient’s wishes vs good medical care = in the audience’s control.

In the audience’s control = important.

Things not in the audience’s control = not important.

Posted in EMS Levels, EMS Operations, EMS: A Profession | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Still No Cure for Cancer

The EMS Blogosphere is current alight with a discussion of the dreaded phrase “ambulance driver.” Alternatively, I call today Wednesday. We’ve got Captain Chair Confessions, EMS Outside Agitator, Medic 51, Ambulance Driver, and The Social Medic all weighing in on the phrase. So, now that we’ve cured cancer, I guess we can get to some important issues like making sure the public doesn’t call EMS providers “ambulance drivers.”

Wait, what’s that? There’s still no cure for cancer? Oops.

I’ll be the first to say that language and word choice is important. It defines debates. It reveals a lot about the person speaking. There’s no debate that word choice is important and that we need to control the words used to describe our burgeoning profession. However, there is a time and a place for discussing the words that -other- people use (we can always control our language), and there are simply much more pressing issues. Heck, us controlling our field in a way that contributes to controlling the public’s word choices was my very first blog post.

However, think about the following things.

Imagine if EMS providers took this much interest in discussing the poor state of EMS education.
Imagine if EMS providers took this much interest in discussing the issues facing reimbursement for the services that EMS provides (including removing the transport requirement).
Imagine if EMS providers took this much interest in developing EMS research.
Imagine if EMS providers took this much interest in developing systems to prevent calls.
Imagine if EMS providers took this much interest in tackling any of the vastly more important issues rather than being called an “ambulance driver.”

Imagine if EMS providers put as much interest into making EMS into a profession (instead of the current “profession in name only” situation) that we currently do complaining about the term “ambulance driver.” We might actually get something done.

Posted in EMS Levels, EMS: A Profession | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

What We Do

Since I can’t avoid getting on an image meme bandwagon and working on my MS Paint skills, here’s my “What We Do” image. Also, I promise more serious and useful content soon.

Posted in Humor | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A timely reminder…

…that we are not above the laws of physics. This could have just as easily been an ambulance.

Image from: http://below100.com/

Posted in EMS Operations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments