EMS Outside Agitator rolled over in the proverbial professional grave and declared that there are no ambulance drivers in the Emergent Medical Services.
And then… as if on cue… I read a story from EMS1.com titled UK boy “dies after ambulance crew’s sat nav broke”. Sat nav being short for satellite navigation which is the same or equal to the Global Positioning Systems (GPS) used today in the United States.
The mother of the boy, Melanie Cook, had this to say:
“How can highly trained medical professionals be so reliant on sat-nav? Could they not have used a map? Could they not have admitted to control that they were lost and get guided in? Could they not have asked for help from someone in the street? “It was the worst news I could possibly have been told and it has made me determined to find out what happened on that day.”
She raises an excellent point. In order for us to fulfill our calling, use our training, and provide the life saving treatments we need to actually get there. The patients (usually) don’t come to us, we go to them. The sad truth is that nowhere have I seen in either an EMT or Paramedic curriculum the section on map reading and vehicle operations is minimal at best with no time behind the wheel.
We have focused our attention on one aspect of our profession, the practice of medicine. Medic 51 makes a solid statement defining us as medical practitioners. All of our continuing education is medical in nature and we continue to try and evolve our treatments to be scientifically based.
Yes we have seen the fruits of that focus, better patient treatments with better patient outcomes. Along with that fruit comes some pits… like line of duty deaths because of totally preventable motor vehicle collisions and cases like the one above where someone got lost and the patient outcome… well… not so good.
What that focus has done is given everyone tunnel vision to the fact we are medical practitioners specializing in transportation. Otherwise you would call us something else, like a Certified Nurse Assistant, a Nurse, or maybe a Physician Assistant.
So if someone wants to call me an Ambulance Driver, I’m okay with that. Not because I have low self-esteem like EMS Outside Agitator seems to think… but because it’s an aspect of my profession. In fact, if you really thought about it, it’s probably the most VITAL aspect of it. Without good driving skills you’ll never make it to or find the patient much less be able to treat them.
But none of it really matters that much because, in the end, job titles and letters behind your name mean nothing to the person your responding for at 3am from their myocardial infarction or gunshot wound. It’s what you do that matters. It’s what you do that people will remember and respect you for… and since no “Ambulance Driver” post should be written without an obligatory link to the EMS Blogfather Kelly Grayson, take into consideration what he thinks about R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
So let’s not focus so much on one aspect of the profession, but rather the whole enchilada. And damn it, learn how to read a map!!!