Friday, August 19, 2011

Up In Smoke, and why is EMS treated different then other employees?

Nicotine Tests Could Cost Fla. Medics Their Jobs

The above article is the top news story on right now. Long story short, it appears that the county is now in the EMS buisness, so the EMS employees are now County Employees. The policy change doesn't go into effect until October of this year.

I've never been able to understand why so many people in EMS, the fire service, and LEO's smoke. We've all seen people dying of tobacco-related cancers. My favorite irony is seeing a firefighter come outside from a fire, and take off his mask on his way to rehab... and light up a smoke. If you really want to inhale smoke and carcinogens, why bother wearing a pack?

To be honest, I'm of mixed opinions. While I personally, don't smoke, and can't understand why people do (it's disgusting and harmful to your health). I don't see that my employer (especially a government employer) has any right to tell me what I can and can't do when I'm NOT at work/in uniform.

My biggest concern of the whole article, though, is this line:

The nicotine test only applies to uniformed workers, like law enforcement. Paramedics and ambulance crew members will be required to take a nicotine test starting on Oct. 1.”

Why does it only apply to uniformed workers? Is there a different policy that applies to the rest of the county employees? The ones that sit behind desks all day, and get real lunch breaks? The article isn't clear, and I can't find anything else quickly online – If someone can enlighten me, I'd appreciate it. If there is no policy for the “office dwellers” - than this policy is out of line.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

EMS 2.0 Primer

Ok... blogging again. First post is an EMS 2.0 primer I wrote to a collegiate EMS educator I met at the NCEMSF Conference this year, after attending a very good presentation discussing that EMS will only grow as much as we, as providers, want it to. She'd never heard of EMS 2.0, though. Great minds think alike.


Professor ___,

It was great to see the enthusiasm you have for moving EMS forward... as I said in the session, you are not the only person with similar thoughts. I've been involved in EMS for 10 years, and active in various online forms for much of that time. There are several great web fourms dedicated to EMS, and one of the recurring discussions is the difference in training, professional recognition, and compensation between EMS in the USA, and other countries.

There are MANY EMTs and Paramedics that are active with online blogs, as well as being on web forums and other new social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc). It's amazing that there are many voices in unison saying the same thing – we, as providers, are responsible for helping shape our profession.

A few things I truly think are worth your time online:

EMS 2.0 – Written by a Paramedic from Wisconsin named Chris Kaiser, who writes a blog titled Life Under The Lights (

EMS 2.0 seeks to address the issues blocking EMTs and Paramedics from moving forward as a Profession. Built upon the concepts of Technology, Training and Trust, the movement seeks to improve all aspects of emergency services, including community care, disease and injury prevention and opening new avenues for patient care rather than simple transport to an ER.

Chronicles of EMS / Beyond the Lights and Sirens – a ~20 minute short film looking at a fire based urban EMS system from the point of view of both a medic within the system looking for the same change you want, and a English NHS paramedic. The project was instigated by social media, and exchanges between Justin Schorr, who blogs as The Happy Medic ( and Mark Glencorse, who just retired from blogging after several years as 999Medic (

The show is here: (If you only look at one link, look at this one!).

Lastly, the Chronicles of EMS website has more to say on EMS 2.0:

Professor – I actually was able to meet all of the above at EMS Today last year. All are truly great people. There are many providers with a similar vision, united under the concept of EMS 2.0. We are self motivated, and while each of us is a small voice within our respective agencies, we constantly talk online and are able to be self-motivated and help each other. I follow a number of blogs on a daily basis (I am able to read/skim new posts through an application on my phone that syncs from the blog feeds). These blogs help entertain me on my downtime, and engage me in discussion when needed. There is also a great motivation in the knowledge that I am not alone.

If you have ANY questions or there is anything I can do, please feel free to ask.

Jonathan Blatman

Paramedic, West Chester, Pensylvania.