Until We Take Our Mission Seriously, No One Should Take Us Seriously

Over at EMS 1, there’s a story about how many convicted criminals are out doing EMS in New Jersey, and that there is no mechanism in place to detect it.  The most notorious was Robert Melia, who was indicted on charges of molesting three young girls and several cows.  On top of that, he lied on his New Jersey EMT certification renewal application.

In the accompanying NJ.com article, Glouster County EMS Chief Andy Lovell is quoted:

“If you are unable to be a baseball coach, a nurse, a school board member without a background check, (an EMT) shouldn’t be able to come into a house without a background check.”

Yet the pathetic New Jersey First Aid Council still insists that they are not necessary.  I welcome any member to argue about this.

I’ve already written too many posts about our criminal colleagues in EMS. An EMT in my home town was arrested for molesting a 14-year-old girl. Two others were convicted of starting fires while on duty.  Each of these people were placed in a position to care for one of my family members.  At least their services conducted a criminal background check before hiring.  I believe we need to go much further than that.

Here’s what Art Hsieh has to say about this on EMS 1:

 We go into people’s lives at a moment’s notice, often when they are at their most vulnerable. Members of the public must have full faith in public safety providers since they don’t get to choose who comes to their aid when they call.

Think about that for a second.  Now imagine your 14-year-old daughter getting injured cheerleading.  Then one of these animals shows up, performs a trauma assessment, and ends up alone in the back of an ambulance with her.  Does that make your stomach turn?  Don’t the communities we serve deserve us to prevent that from happening?

We make it pathetically easy to become an EMT.  Then we make it pathetically easy for the lowest common denominator EM’s to have a hobby or employment, and be placed in positions of trust.  Several of them join services are run by clubs whose leadership is elected by its members, and are barely overseen by anyone outside the club.  Others go to services that value the quality of billing paperwork over professionalism or quality of care, and have no reason to change.  It’s time we give them one.

Practicing EMS  is a privilege that should be earned, but we treat it as a constitutional right.  Then we whine about not getting respect, not getting paid enough, or not having opportunities for career advancement.

Enough already.  Appeasement didn’t work before World War II, and appeasing our lowest performing people and services is not working now.  It’s time to raise the bar.  Make it harder to earn an EMT card.  Make sure that people are physically and mentally fit, competent, and of good character before they get anywhere near an ambulance.

For more, check out Rogue Medic’s post: Cow Rapist is New Poster Boy for the New Jersey First Aid Council.  

Also, see what Ambulance Driver has to say about earning respect here.


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