When was the last time you asked your waitress why she was scared to learn CPR?

My answer: last night.

At a last minute meetup, myself and Thaddeus Setla sat down with East Coaster and EMS 2.0 supporter William Random Ward to discuss EMS, social media, the state of emergency services and what we as providers can do to improve the state of our profession.

It occurred to me that we do need a lead Federal agency, we do need some really cool PSA’s, but what we can’t wait that long.

Random (Yes, his real name) stopped us mid conversation and asked us if we should ask our waitress if she knows about EMS.  We can’t reach out to our regular circle of friends to see what the general public knows or doesn’t know because they already are tainted by our experiences.

The waitress was slightly taken aback that three guys were asking what seemed like a set up for a date request, but we kept it simple.

“Do you know what EMS is?” – “Umm…no.”

“Do you know what EMS stands for?  The letters?” – “No.”

Then Random went into his dance.

I have often wondered what a young me inspired by more than a simple desire to be better might have looked like.  I only dream I had that level of inspiration and desire at 22.

Yes, he’s only 22.  The definition of parapup, yet grounded in the realities of EMS and where we need to go both in the short term and the long term.  His ideas were simple.  Reach out to the community in any way we can to educate them about who we are and what we do.  Not in a grandiose way, not at first, but with simple conversations.

I asked our waitress if she knew CPR and the look on her face was similar to what I imagine her response would be to the question “Have you ever bungee jumped?”  She shook her head and told us no while feeling very awkward all of a sudden.  When we told her is was a less than 1 day class and there was no more mouth to mouth, she told us she’d look into it and walked away.

Assuming, like you are, that that was the end of it, she returned in a few moments to tell us she asked around her co-workers who knew CPR to find her manager and another employee stated yes and she was surprised.

I flashed to the scene in Fight Club when Tyler Durdin confronts the student behind the convenience store and threatens to kill him if he doesn’t go back to school and chase his dreams.

Of course there was no intention of bodily harm, I had no gun and I’m not a dangerous manifestation of my own subconscious (as far as you know), but the spirit was the same.

“You’re not off the hook.  Go learn CPR, you’ll be glad you did.” I said and she went back to serving her customers.

We should be doing the same.  Most of those who seek out EMS topics already do street interventions.  From “quit smoking’ to “here’s how to properly use your inhaler” and I recently used a crash course in CPR to get a man to go into the ER, but why are we not asking the barrista at the morning coffee place?  Or the lawyer cutting into the elevator in front of us on a run?  Or the mother of the 5 kids who insists her ankle prevents her from working?

While looking around for the person who is going to educate your community about you, look no further than the mirror my friends.

Have a look at what Mr Ward had to say

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