I had an encounter with a decent young EMT who was leaving the field. This young man had a strong sense compassion, the ability to think, and truly wanted to help people. He was not helped grow as an EMT. He was not taught the things he should have been. His partner was quick to blame him for any failures. He seemed to think that he should take responsibility for things that went wrong. I happened to be driving while he was finishing a PCR when we were dispatched to an emergency call. It took us an inordinate amount of time due to confusion on my part. He was willing to take the blame for this as he was quitting, and thought it was ok. That’s when I started seething.
When I started in this business, I had several Paramedics and senior EMTs who took time to ensure that my questions were answered. They reassured me when I thought I did something wrong. I was corrected when I actually was wrong, but at no point was I belittled. I was mentored. We didn’t call it that, it was just how things were done. If someone wanted to be an EMT and was willing to listen we helped them. Now to be honest, we often eased or tried to force people out who we noticed were dangerous.
Everyone was given a chance because you never knew who was going to have the ability to do the job. We took time to cover skills that were often neglected in class. We listened and took time to help them deal when that bad call came. We had a lot of people turn out to be good EMT’s and some of them became Paramedics with the talent and understanding. It seems silly but it worked.
This seems to be gone these days. People make mistakes, and new people are unsure of themselves. Someone’s inexperience should not be an excuse to shift blame to them. These people need your guidance. When you make a mistake, own that mistake. Show the new person that mistakes should be a chance to improve. Learn from your errors and grow from them. Teach these things to new EMTs.
I mentioned a bad response time earlier. I went to the Supervisor on duty and took my concerns to him. I readily admitted that I was the one in error. I also took my concerns to him. As an employee I felt it was my job to pass on my concerns. I also explained to the young man that he did not want to burn his bridges. He might want to come back one day. I hope that he returns to EMS, as we need people who have the passion to help others.
A blogger who I respect has stated the good judgment comes from experience and that experience comes with bad judgment. Bad judgment seems to cause a lot more situations like this. If we refuse to mentor people EMS will continue to be a job and not a profession. EMS will not be a destination, but a stop towards something else. We often discuss better treatment modalities, appropriate response types, and bases vs. SSM. But we never discuss how to improve the profession from the inside. You are the first person that young EMT gets to work with. You are the one that will influence their mentality. Don’t treat them like they should be perfect. Remember someone took the time to help you. Good mentorship will give you that partner that you want. The one that can anticipate your moves and sees patients as a human beings.
Thank you for your time,