—And What To Do About It.
What is a life worth?
That’s the argument I hear a lot.
If I save people’s lives, why don’t I get the same respect as doctors?
It’s a fair question.
But here’s the thing. Respect isn’t about fairness or even job performance alone. Plain and simple, respect is earned. And there’s a lot that goes into how respect is earned.
Another complaint I hear a lot is how Emergency Medical Services (EMS) always seems to take a backseat to fire and police services.
For a long time I completely blew this off. I figured the complaints were just normal venting. To a certain extent, it’s human nature to think “the grass is always greener” somewhere else.
I get it.
I understand how easy it is to get disillusioned with lack of positive change over time.
And that’s truly what I thought was the cause of most EMS venting.
But over time, as I coached more and more EMS professionals who wanted to fly, the complaints grew. Complaints kept coming regardless of the person’s background, education or experience.
Are the concerns about how EMS is treated legitimate? Does EMS really take a backseat to Fire and Police services?
It truly depends on what you want to believe. You get to choose.
But, and this the important part…
If you believe EMS is taking a backseat to other professional services, it’s up to you to fix the problem. Seriously, it’s up to you. It’s not okay to identify a problem and then do nothing. If you take a hands-off approach, you’re literally making yourself part of the problem.
Don’t be part of the problem. Take the right actions to fix the problem.
Here are 10 Ways to Get Respect In EMS
1. Show Your Value as an EMS Employee
Show, don’t tell.
Show others your value as an EMS employee. Gaining respect for EMS starts with you.
The moment you first enter the workplace, you must immediately show others your worth and unique value as an employee. It starts with how you do the basics. How you complete individual tasks that clearly fall within your scope of practice.
Your skill level absolutely makes a difference in how you and EMS at large is perceived.
2. Interact with Your Co-workers and Care About Their Lives
EMS is a team sport.
You will not thrive or even survive an EMS career if you don’t look out for others.
It kind of goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway.
You can’t look out for others until you make a sincere effort to get to know others. Take the time to find out what makes your EMS partners tick. They’ll be happy you did, and you’ll be better for it.
3. Speak Calmly and Listen to Others
When pilots learn emergency procedures in a helicopter, one of things they’re taught is “no fast hands.”
“No fast hands” refers to how a pilot reacts to an emergency.
It’s important pilots remain calm. It’s not okay to shut down engines or turn off critical flight systems without first confirming what is really happening. Is the emergency really what they think it is? Are you sure? No fast hands until you’re certain.
The same is true of EMS jobs. You can’t control how badly things go at an accident scene. But you can control your reaction to it. Your reaction matters.
Your ability to speak calmly and listen to others during times of extreme chaos makes a big difference in how much respect you earn from others.
4. Do More Than Is Expected
Nobody respects a slacker.
It’s never okay to consistently do the bare minimum. And it’s never okay to do more than the minimum if your only motivation is yourself.
Look for ways to improve processes. Find ways to make improvements by saving people time and the company money. It’s usually not hard to spot waste in aviation or medicine.
The opportunities are everywhere.
5. Show Self-Confidence, But Know Your Limits
Getting respect in the EMS workplace is a delicate balancing act.
You must be willing to take on extra work and special projects; and still set limits with your employer when it comes to overtime and your priorities outside EMS work.
Do the EMS job well, but don’t let it consume you.
Here is an article that will help you get started: 10 Survival Tips for EMS and Air Medical Who Want a Life Outside of Work
6. Respect Co-workers (and Supervisors) Even If You Don’t Like Them
In a perfect world there would be no conflict. But, the world’s not perfect.
EMS is extended family in many ways. But as you probably already know, not all families get along 100% of the time.
It’s not all hand-holding and singing Kum-bah-yah. There are real disagreements and real conflicts in EMS.
What’s important is how you treat others during the moments of conflict. You don’t need to like or even agree with a co-worker or boss to support them. How you treat others goes a long way to earning your own respect from others.
7. Dress The Part
No secrets here.
People can and do make snap judgements about you.
How you dress makes a difference.
Think of your own experiences. Are you more inclined to give your attention to a person who is neat, fit and trim? Or a person who is sloppy, overweight and out of shape?
I’m not saying it’s right, or fair, or even how it should be. But how you dress definitely plays a part in how much respect your earn.
Here is an article that may give you more ideas about how to gain respect in the EMS workplace — 10 Ways To Make A Great First Impression In a Flight Interview.
8. Have Patience with Others
Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes.
How you treat people makes a difference in terms of how much or how little respect you earn. Patience and kindness go a long way toward earning respect from others. Remember that you too were once a beginner at one time in your EMS career.
Patience with new people, as well as seasoned veterans learning new tricks, is important for establishing your own credibility — and earning respect from your co-workers and supervisors.
9. Share Your Knowledge
It’s not enough to just be good at your job.
You need to share what you know with others. Again, remember that EMS is a team sport.
As you gain experience in EMS, sharing your knowledge should become a natural extension of how you operate. It should be part of who you are and how you work.
Think back to a person who helped you succeed in EMS. Did they share their knowledge or hoard it for themselves? And who do you respect more?
10. Don’t Repeat EMS Gossip
Gossip destroys a lot of EMS careers and hurts a lot of good folks.
There’s really nothing good to come from repeating EMS (or any other kind) gossip.
Don’t do it.
Rise above it.
Your peers and supervisors will respect you for not participating.
What To Do Now
So what do you do now? Where do you start to earn respect for yourself and the EMS profession?
Start by reminding yourself that earning respect is a process, not an event.
There’s no single event that guarantees respect over time. It’s all the little things you do over a career. Stay positive, treat others how you want to be treated, and follow the ideas above.
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