My secret identity
Rex Dulfom The publisher of CEN contacted me yesterday asking if I would be interested in speaking at an EMS conference next year.
At first I jumped at the chance, but after seriously thinking about the ramifications of revealing my true name and location, I decided against the speaking engagement. I was left disappointed and more than a little sad. I had never been invited to participate in this manner before and being asked to do so was a compliment.
So the question remains: Why do I keep my real name hidden?
It may seem strange to some of you but the truth is that I have been doing this job for a very, very, very long time by EMS standards and I want to keep doing it.
When I first started this job, I was making about six dollars an hour, the rigs had a horizontal painted blue stripe with a single rotating light on the roof and the siren placed strategically in front of it. In the rear were two small, rotating “fire balls.” The scene lights were driving lights screwed to the roof. Our cot was an antique #30 Ferno, two-man lifting nightmare. I think the weight limit was 300 lb. Calling for a lift assist was admitting you could not do the job. Gloves were nowhere to be found—you felt every fluid, touched every crevice, knew the sensation of the patient’s skin and never feared a blood borne disease.
The job has progressed, the skills have been honed, the vehicles carry more equipment than I ever imagined when I first started, and the level of patient care has finally been elevated to where I feel we are true professionals.
So why do I write this article? It certainly isn’t for the money or fame. I get neither. After all these years, I have seen pretty much everything, done pretty much everything, seen lives lost, seen lives begin, seen lives torn apart, felt every emotion within us and found new ones and all this time I am still amazed that most EMS management across the country is still at the same level it was 30 years ago.
There are good people doing amazing jobs in management. I have seen and spoken to them, but in EMS we like to promote from within. Little or no actual management training is required but rather the skills of networking will determine how quickly you advance. People who would have made good managers are overlooked, seldom considered and forgotten.
I have never aspired to be a service manager. I like patients. I like field work but I have become critical of those who accelerate quickly with little or no field experience or actual managerial training and decide how the dollar is spent.
Counties or regional authorities turn a blind eye to the daily operation of most services. Money is spent; money is wasted. Medics start their career full of desire to save the world, save every patient and make a difference. Instead, the reality of mismanagement and politics permeates its way into the crew room and vehicles and makes an otherwise great career a royal pain in the ass.
I write this article because there are stupid people doing stupid things, and making stupid decisions affecting the lives of medics who are supposed to be prepared to save the lives of others when called upon.
Sure we can sit for hours doing nothing, watching TV, washing our cars, texting and surfing the net, but when the tones go off or the phone rings, we do the job. Not always well, we all screw up at one time or another. But we do it. We go above and beyond. We do things that make our friends say: “I could never do your job.”
And it is because of those times when managers should spring for that bigger TV, those comfy chairs, those firm beds, and watch how they spend that cash because that money is not there for personal gain but to make sure the job gets done.
I want to do this job for a long time because I like it. I care about people. However, I hate it when people take advantage of their position to benefit themselves over those they are supposed to protect. But if people knew I wrote this column they wouldn’t sit with me over coffee and vent because I have seen all the stuff that people aren’t supposed to see. So I won’t go the conference, but thank you for the thought and the invitation.