Don’t worry, this isn’t about health care reform or the argument between socialised and private healthcare!
One of the truly beneficial and unexpected side effects of having this blog is that I am now part of a huge international network of like minded dedicated EMS professionals. I am suddenly being exposed to many ‘best practices’ in various countries around the world, and due to participating in the ‘EMS Garage’ podcast, I can now email and ask questions to some very influential and senior EMS folks in America.
I was listening to last weeks EMS garage episode when I heard Skip Kirkwood (The Wake County EMS Chief) talk about a yearly ceremony which they hold to celebrate successful ‘saves’ they have had in their County during the last year. I contacted him after I listened to the podcast so that I could learn a bit more.
It all starts with invites to patients who have been successfully been resuscitated, along with their families, and also the paramedics and EMTs who were involved in the incident. On the evening of the ceremony, the programme goes something like this:
- An outside reception with snacks and light sodas
- An opening ceremony involving presentation of the flags by fire/EMS honor guard personnel, accompanied by our Public Safety Pipes and Drums.
- The National Anthem
- A blessing by the chaplain
- Opening remarks by the EMS Chief, the medical director, and the fire chief
- A speech thanking the medics by one of the elected officials (the Mayor or the Chair of the County Commission)
- A keynote speech, by a survivor or a member of a survivor’s family, usually accompanied by a tear-jerker slide show.
- Those who have participated in saves are called to the stage by individual save, announced by date, patient age and gender (no names). They shakehands and get presented with their “save pin” which are a bar worn on the dress uniform. After the first one, they have numbers to indicate subsequent awards.
- Closing remarks by somebody
Now I know that many British paramedics will initially think that it sounds like a load of sentimental rubbish, and they wouldn’t want to be part of something like that. They may try to portray the good old British sentiment of ‘Im just doing my job’, which we all do, day in and day out. But if you really think about it, and forget about the initial feeling of thinking it would be ‘uncool’ to say that you would like to be part of something like that, then what a wonderful night it would be.
Many Europeans think the Americans are ‘over the top’ when it comes to nationality and flag waving and ‘hero worship’ when it comes to their public services – Fire, EMS, Police and Armed Forces, but I think they have got it right. I don’t have a need to be told what a good job I do, I know I do a good job and I know how lucky I am do be a practising Paramedic, but we all acknowledge that lack of getting a proper pat on the back for a job well done.
I know that there have been many times where I would have liked to have seen a patient again that I have either resuscitated or saved with thrombolysis or other interventions, but that virtually never happens. Imagine how special it would be to be part of a planned event where many patients and paramedics can get together and celebrate some of the great work that we do.
The UK Ambulance service is notoriously bad at promoting our successes. We all know that the UK FIre Service have a fantastic PR department and a fantastic community programme, which we can never match (as we are just to busy to do the community events and training that they do), so is it a really a bad idea to take things into our own hands and invite the community in to help celebrate the times when we really do make a difference.
I personally love the idea of a ceremony like this, where my fellow paramedics (no matter how macho and straight laced they pretend to be) can actually enjoy getting a well and truly deserved pat on the back, along with all the other links in the chain, from our contact centre call takers, allocators, and road staff to the Headquarters staff, who all work together to provide a first class service.
I’m also sure the patients and their families would like the opportunity to show their gratitude too.
So, here is my next ‘Project’. I’m going to see what I can do with this. Lets see if I can get sufficient interest in an event such as this, and take it to the powers that be and work on developing a “North East Ambulance Service Ceremony of Celebration”
It may well fall flat on its face, I may be told that I am listening to too many Americans, but I will reply with the statement “well maybe they have got it right!!”
I would love to hear what you all think about an event like this. Is it a good idea, is it worthwhile doing, do you do anything like this anyway. If you are a member of the public or a patient who has had experience of the NHS, would you like an opportunity to say thanks. Leave a comment and let me know, it will all help when I take this to the management.
My thanks go out to Skip for providing me with the information on his event.