I’m a Basic, not a child

English: Mayport, Fla. (Jan. 19, 2007) - Firef...

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Any EMT with more than a month on the streets has worked with that Medic. The one who gives all the others a bad name. The one that sees you as a driver and a janitor, and not much else. There are several names for this Medic, most of which are not considered polite for normal conversation. I call him/her the Paragod. Paragods are the ones that think your title should be “ambulance driver”, your sole purpose is to stock the truck and lift the patient, and when asked a question, fires off a quick “you’re just an EMT, you wouldn’t get it.”

My typical response is something similar to “you’re more than welcome to drive AND treat your patient if you don’t want me here,” which usually gets me a stern talking to from the Commander and another station change. All this being said, what can we do as a collective to “re-educate” the Paragod that we’re more valuable than we’re treated. Before you say “you can’t teach a dumb dog new tricks,” lets think about it. What value IS a basic on an ALS truck, really?

The obvious first response is “driver,” which makes my nuts hurt. But it’s also a valuable part of an ALS team. As I’ve pointed out numerous times, albeit usually to my detriment, one cannot treat a patient and drive a bus at the same time. The other obvious response is “manual laborer,” i.e., the one who works with his back while the Paragod works with his brain. This one gives me a testicular twinge as well, but like it’s predecessor, is also a necessary part of the team.

Keep in mind, even though the focus of this post is the Paragod, I have worked with some AWESOME Medics that I would follow into the bowels of hell with a smile on my face. What I’ve noticed about these Medics is that they consider you a valuable part of the team, and express the sentiment. One Medic in particular, which I regularly refer to as my Mentor, has a favorite saying: “We’re partners. You go, we go.” This goes a LONG way when you’re spending 24 hours together in close quarters and environments that are less than ideal.

So how do we get the Paragod to accept us as a “partner,” instead of a “flunky?” Suggestions, anyone?


Posted on 23 Jan 2012, in Medical, Rants and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I think the title of your post says a lot. Act like an EMT, not a child.
    I find it helps to be the best you can be at whatever it is that you do. If you’re the Basic, and have a medic partner, learn to support and assist the medic as smoothly and effectively as possible. Know your response area, and any you might go to for mutual aid. Have whatever they need next ready to go. Remember details. Educate yourself so you understand what they are doing, even if it isn’t in YOUR “scope of practice.”
    Good leaders are important. Good followers, or assistants, possibly even more so.

  2. Unfortunately, I don’t think you can change a Paragod’s opinion about EMT-Basics, which says more about them than about the EMTs. The Paragods are also the medics who don’t bother to listen to the input of other medics on-scene, generally run roughshod over any sort of incident command, and think the world revolves around them. Short of a surgical removal of the Paragod’s head from his rectum, all you can do is deal with the Paragod while waiting for the next rebid.

    Any decent medic knows how valuable an EMT-B partner is. More than once, a good EMT-B partner has helped me avoid looking dumb or incompetent with a quiet nudge or word on the side.

  3. amen.
    I’m the hiring supervisor… and I’m the one who would rather have a good Basic than a mediocre Medic. And I fired our last “Paragod” champion, got the runner up to quit.
    They aren’t just annoying. They’re also bad for patients. Anyone who insists that their partner is only a driver and a cleanup crew is also usually unwilling to listen to other opinions on diagnosis,treatment and protocol. They also tend to p*ss off hospital staff. And don’t even go to how they treat dispatchers.
    One of my favorite interview questions is to tell them that I’m considering hiring them for a crew with a Basic with much more experience than they have, and ask them how they’d feel about it, and how they’d handle being in charge anyway.
    The answers are revealing.

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