To all of the “ambulance drivers” out there, let me just say “wake up!” We have some amazing resources available to us to improve EMS in person and across the internet. Conferences like EMS Today provide a world of opportunity to learn new skills and improve our services. If travel is an issue, you can receive Continuing Education through services like LearnEMS from CentreLearn. All over social media there are discussions on both the ills and the future of EMS. LinkedIn has a group specific to EMS Leadership and Administration and Google Groups has a NEMSMA forum. Just this year a fantastic new blog, The EMS Leader, was started to promote thought-leadership in directing EMS. I’d even like to add my own Facebook page on High Performance EMS and Twitter feed at @hp_ems as examples of effective information dissemination and discussion. But with all of this available to us, I would like to paraphrase John Lennon in saying that “Your career is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
The reason I am so riled up this morning is because of a city council vote today in Jersey City that may end the 130 year legacy of a hospital run EMS in favor of a private, for-profit ambulance service offering the city money for the right to provide exclusive EMS services there. And we aren’t talking about just any hospital, Jersey City Medical Center is a nationally recognized teaching hospital run by LibertyHealth. With all the discussion of “Community Paramedicine” and EMS transforming into “Mobile Health Care” among ourselves, we see a municipality that appears to be looking exclusively at a financial bottom line (read Jersey City council hears arguments from two bidders for ambulance contract at tonight’s caucus or search for additional articles on the topic) instead of a broader picture of services and criteria based on community health and safety. Have we been so distracted by internal focused searches for evidence-based practices that we forgot to communicate our value to the public as health care professionals? Leadership in our profession is not solely the job of management. Sure, we need vision in our administrators and medical directors, but we are not exempt in taking responsibility for change. If you hope to see your career grow as a profession, we each must do our part to improve ourselves and expect more from our partners and throughout our services. What is happening in New Jersey should not be seen just as a political anomaly, it must inspire us to be more and let our communities know the value we can bring.