Chief Medical Officer. It sounds ominous and lofty, but I heard someone remind me I am not the Chief Medical Officer of the Fire Department so I got to thinking about what that term really means.
It could mean anything, really. It could mean our Department Physician who oversees our physical tests, trends score, BMI etc and, in general, watches out for our well being.
CMO could be our Medical Director. The man who signs off that I can practice all those skills I learned before I met him and do all by myself without him watching.
The term could also easily fit on the door of our new Chief of EMS Jeff Myers (Congrats to him!). After all, he is the Operational Section Chief for the entire EMS Division, engines, squads, trucks, ambulances, Paramedic Captains etc.
But with Cancer Awareness fresh on my mind I’d like to re-examine the role of the Firefighter/Paramedic when assigned to a multi-person company or even a multi-company house. In that case, I think we are the CMO of that unit. Call them “Medic,” which denotes they’ll help if something goes wrong, “Corpsman” in the heat of battle, but when the dinner conversation dies down or when the afternoon lull kicks in, we need to be looking out for our co-workers.
We need to be the Chief Medical Officer of that Company.
Making menu suggestions, trying to cook healthier than normal, exercising on a regular basis, quitting tobacco, wearing our SCBAs, all of these things should be discussed on a regular basis by someone who knows something about them. If you are the Paramedic assigned to that team, guess what…that’s you.
Take your free time to read up on diet and exercise, maybe get a Men’s Health subscription going for the house.
Run a drill or two on topics not usually covered in their refreshers. Perhaps discuss ways they can not just assist you, but gather information at the scene to speed along your assessment.
Step up and get proactive, become the Chief Medical Officer in your mind. They are already your family, become a resource for them to learn more about how to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Keep on them about cancer screenings, medical checkups, hygiene, whatever it takes to keep that unit healthy and ready for when they need you.
And, more importantly, keep them ready for when you need them.