EMS is not a Health or Human Service

I was informed recently that I am not a health or human service but a sacred cow.

Did I gain weight?

In the midst of the budget battles, somehow the “other side” has controlled hijacked the conversation, claiming they are above mandated cuts because they provide health and human services.

Health services. I’m pretty sure I qualify there.
Human services. Debatable on some calls for service, but technically yes, my patients are humans.

How did I become a sacred cow? Politics.

In what is becoming more and more common around the US, EMS professionals are being marginalized as other services are expanding, mainly those dealing with substance abuse and low income services. But where do these folks turn for help when released from the fancy detox and housing unit? After buying cheap booze that is…

EMS.

We gather them up and funnel them back into the system, all with a legally mandated smile on our tired faces. And I have it pretty good these days. A few years back some of our rigs ran the same person 2 or 3 times a day. We’d drop them off and they’d go right back into the streets.

A pioneering supervisor with a background in social work teamed up with the local homeless team, grabbed a surplus van from the yard and started making the rounds. They found regulars, got them off the streets and into rehab. Out of rehab and into housing. Out of housing and on their feet again. Or, which is becoming more common, a bus ticket back home.
The program was remarkably successful and I will expand on it when particulars are approved for posting here at HMHQ.

This program was recently cut due to budget concerns by the powers above the powers that be. Seems to me there is more profit in keeping some folks from getting better or out of town. There is a lot of soft money non-profit dollars floating around out there and how dare a small group of people make more of a difference in a year than a dozen municipal agencies and private companies could do in a decade?

Maybe I’m exaggerating, maybe not. We’ll never know why a successful money saving program was eliminated in favor of apathy. Here or anywhere, it all comes down to dollar signs.

Standing on a sidewalk earlier today I was told by a client, recently moved from 1200 miles away, that my salary could feed and house a dozen people and that my job was “eliminatable.”

“But then who would come and pick you up for free, take you to free detox, free housing, free food just so you can get drunk and do it again? Without us you freeze to death in the street.”

He had no answer, but no one passing out the budget money seems to understand that we are the first rung in the Health and Human Services matrix.

We’re that square near the top that says ‘Arrival into system.’

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