Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Faster I Go, The Behinder I Get

Since becoming an EMT, I have spent a significant amount of time on continuing education.  I basically take every class I can get to, since the dept doesn't provide anything.

I've also rearranged my life to some extent, to be able to cover calls when there isn't anyone else available.

The trouble is that there often isn't anyone else available.

Small dept.  Even smaller EMS crew.  The short version is most of the time it's us, or rust.  Personally "us."  Me. My kids.

Over the past few years, I have personally been to about 90% of the calls.
During three of those years, I believe there were two calls total that had a patient, which were not attended by a member of my immediate family.  Two calls in three years.

But here's the thing.
We can't continue that response rate forever.  Between school and work and the possibility of more school and work, we aren't available as much of the time as we have been.  Even so, we scramble and shift schedules around and do as much as we can to continue that level of coverage because we believe it's important.

We need help.  It's as simple as that.  We need volunteers who want to be EMTs.  We need people who are committed to training.  

But in order to get that, things need to change. 

:::Deleted long diatribe that no one wants to read anyway:::

We're kind of dead in the water here.

What sucks most is that the harder I work, the worse it gets.
The more effort my family puts into training, practicing, and responding, the LESS help we get with trying to change anything.

The community, the public, has NO IDEA that we're in such dire straits.  They think the fire dept is GREAT.

From their perspective, they call, and we respond.  We have someone there in a very short period of time most of the time.  We get there fast, we seem to know what we're doing, and a least from the EMS side, we provide decent service. Friendly. Professional. Caring.

So from their perspective, where's the problem? If anything, they get a faster, more qualified response than much of the rest of the county.  If you looked at response times as a way to compare departments, this one would come out looking well above average. If you look at the training level of who is responding, we still come out ahead of a lot of them.

What they DON'T see is that this happens ONLY because of my immediate family.  It is nearly always US who show up so fast. (And that's true on the fire side as well.) 

It's a little bit better this year than the last few, since we have a new EMT trying to help us out, and one other who has started to go to SOME calls as opposed to NO calls, but most of the time, they aren't there.  

So here we are, my family, trying to hold down the fort.
The whole fort.
Without a lot of help.
And with ZERO support from the dept.

:::another diatribe deleted, for brevity:::

But no one sees any of this.
No one knows that they are very close to having no coverage at all.  And that sometimes, they pretty much don't have any.

It's as simple as this: if my family goes out to dinner together... we have to hope nothing happens out here that is a true emergency. 

Much of the time, it means no EMT will go to any call.  And on the fire side, it means a delay, not only of the extra time to get anyone on scene, but often a delay in calling in additional resources since for some reason I absolutely do not understand, other people in the department are slow to call for mutual aid. This dept no longer has the manpower to put out a structure fire without help. There aren't enough interior firefighters in the district for an interior attack because we can't get four on scene without mutual aid, or waiting for people to drive in from wherever they work or live outside the district. If my family is unavailable- there aren't four interior firefighters, period.

So mostly, we don't go out.

And the harder we work, the more effort we put in, in order to maintain coverage out here... the less likely anyone will ever step up and help us try to change things.

We've tried.

We're cast as being "negative" and being "against the fire department" if we try to communicate any of the problems.  No one wants to believe that there is a problem, at all.  The evidence the public has is that things are fine- and they WANT to believe that. Maybe need to.

But they aren't fine.

One member of my family may be leaving the area in a few months.
My work schedule is going to change, with me working a LOT more hours, and unable to respond out here.
Or maybe we'll just stop putting up with so much crap.

It's already starting- our overall response rate is dropping due to other committments, and there have already been several calls this year that did not get an EMT.  That is going to continue, and it is going to happen more often.

I'd really like things to change BEFORE we have no one out here going to calls.
But so far, no one will listen.

And the more we do, the harder we work, the more we rearrange things, so that we provide the best possible EMS service we can... the less likely it is anyone will believe things need to change.

But they do.  They REALLY do.

1 comment:

  1. WOW. Really, just WOW.
    Sounds off the top like your contributions are being taken for granted and everyone expects that you will always be there. This happened to me when I served as Captain. When I stepped down and did not take all that responsibility on myself, I realized that after a few mis-steps, others realized there was a hole, and they began to fill it. I wish I had learned that earlier.
    You can't be everything to everyone or you will wind up in a bad place. Try putting more of your time into recruitment and less into responses. It sounds easy, but I fully know it is not.
    DO you have an email address? There is none on the blog and I tried guessing, but it didn't work.
    Be Safe, Be Well, Be sharp,