Quick! What is the difference between an electrical engineer and an electrician?
Or the difference between a general contractor and a foreman?
You should because the public has no idea the difference between EMT and Paramedic and it’s our own fault.
Over at EMS1.com there was a ruffling of feathers about the site using the term “EMS Worker” to describe an EMS worker who had been injured in an accident and they knew not the name or the level of certification.
I saw no problem in it, but the alphabet soup supporters went into overdrive.
“We are NOT EMS WORKERS!!!!!” one person wrote.
Driving past a construction site I could care less which of them is the electrician, the carpenter or the unskilled laborer, but when I need one, I know who to call. Their roles are clearly defined across cultural and political boundaries.
But EMS is hopelessly shattered into fiefdoms who demand their own training and certifications. As mentioned in the EMS1 article by Skip Kirkwood, we all need to come together and decide what we are and just go with it.
However, which governing body do we choose to make that decision? The National Association of EMS Officials? The National Association of EMTs? What about the International Association of EMS Chiefs? the International Association of Firefighters? Egads there are as many little organizations as there are levels of EMT. No wonder we can’t get on the same page.
As Mr Kirkwood mentions, the term Ambulance Driver actually is rooted in our history, so don’t go too insane when someone calls you that, especially if all they see you do is drive it there, load someone up and drive away.
A Policeman is not a police car driver and a mechanic is not a tow truck driver, but we have a long way to go before we can kick that ambulance driver label.
But what label will remain when we do?
Paramedic? EMT? EMS Worker?
A PA is not an MD, but I still say I’m going to the Doctor. Perhaps we could learn from that and expand on it.
I suggest adopting the title of Paramedic, as does Mr Kirkwood, but only because EMT drags behind us. First responder CPR providers may not be considered Paramedics by us, but they sure are by someone who’s husband just slumped over dead in a cafe.
Many different levels of Paramedic will still exist and, unfortunately they need to, because each community will need to train their responders differently based on the needs of that community.
For example, training me and my co-workers in grain silo extrication and farm emergencies may be a waste of time and money whereas a rural community will probably not need high rise training.
So where do we draw that line? When does a technician become a Paramedic? It really is just a name, just a title, just a way to separate ourselves from the others we work with.
The common citizen may not know the difference between a Paramedic, an EMT and a CPR First Responder until someone more qualified arrives on scene and can do more. Then they may notice a distinction, much like when I call for a plumber and a carpenter arrives. If he never tells me he’s not a plumber all I see is a work truck, tools and someone doing something to help. Only when the plumber finally arrives will I take note of the limited abilities of what I thought was a plumber.
What’s in a name? Everything and nothing, all at once. (Thanks Green Day)
Leave a comment over on the EMS1.com article to get in on the discussion.
Justin Schorr – Paramedic