So, there you are. Fresh out of training school / university / whatever route you have entered the mad world of EMS. You are all keen. Full of knowledge and enthusiasm and wanting to put that into good use. You know what you should be doing. You want to get out there and do it. Do the best for your patients no matter what.
Then you meet them. Those who "remember the days when". Those who want to just take every patient to hospital. Those who think machines are evil. Those who think that there is no point asking too many questions as they never listen at hospital. Those who never take anything into a job because "it'll just be rubbish anyway".
And here comes the dilemma. You have to work with these people. You are a very small fish in their very large pond. How far do you go to get along? What will you sacrifice so as not to become "that bloody uni student"??
Will you sit idly by while they do things you know to no longer be best practice?
When you attend, will you still take in all the bags because YOU want to make sure you are not caught out?
Will you try and leave people at home when it is the best option for you or will you be pressured into taking them to hospital "to cover your arse"?
When you are driving, will you "turn those lights and sirens off, its a load of bull and we don't need them on"?
Will you continue to listen to the chest or will your stethoscope become another bit of kit gathering dust in your bag?
When a patient would benefit from a drug that while not essential right now you can give, but it will involve cannulating, will you spend the time to make the patient feel that bit better slightly quicker or "just take them to hospital. They'll do that there"
Will you keep your keenness or be sucked into the cynical, anti-management, anti-work world of the old school?
Now, don't get me wrong, I think the old school have huge amounts of experience to teach us newbie’s. They have coped and done the job with less equipment, facilities and drugs for years. Their hunches about patients are quite often spot on. They know how to deal with PEOPLE, something that can sometimes be lacking with newbie’s. But it's about extracting the good from the bad and learning from it.
A wiser person than I once said "You can learn something from everyone you work with, either something you want to incorporate into your way of working, or something you don't. Treat every shift as a learning opportunity".
I'd like to think that throughout my training I have tried to do this but I know that there have been times when, working with certain individuals, I may not have done as much as I'd like because I didn't want grief. Now, I'm a little more confident (not that much tho!) and take what I want into jobs, deal with patients the way I want to and try not to slip into bad habits. Yet a recent incident has made me realise that I have a long way to go still. I'm still very new in the grand scheme of things and could be working with these people for years to come. And a 12h shift is a long time to work with someone who really dislikes you.
Thankfully, with words of encouragement from numerous people I am happier with what I am doing. While I have noted the comments made about me, I haven't really changed my practice. I'm just more aware of it.
If EMS is to change, to improve, to move forward, we have to make sure that we do not let those who would anchor us in the "I'm just an ambulance man with a van" era succeed in bringing us down. While we must respect their views, learn what we can from them, we need to be mindful that EMS is developing and we can help that development. We are the future.
Best not tell them that tho, seems to p*** them off!