I read with interest the article by Hollie Backberg in your March 2019 issue [“Stress: The Silent Killer of the EMS Career”]. I am a retired fire lieutenant who served with the City of Miami (FL) Fire Rescue. Out of the 32 years I spent there, 29 were spent riding the ALS trucks as a firefighter-paramedic and later as a lieutenant. I worked a 24-hour shift, with one day on and two days off. It wasn’t unusual for us to be gone for over two hours after our first call before we got back to the station.
During the tail end of my career, I would meet new firefighter-paramedics who were amazed I’d been riding the box as long as I had. I never felt burned out. Sure, there were days when I told my wife, “This isn't worth it.” Some shifts I got no sleep after midnight. I would throw out my lunch and dinner after microwaving it three times.
I also donned bunker gear and helped fight my share of fires. Were there calls that were hard to handle? Sure. While on the job I would remember in detail calls I’d gone on years ago but was clueless about the one I went on just an hour ago. Yet I took pride in never lashing out at patients.
Any paramedic who’s been on the job more than five years knows there are system abusers. We have frequent flyers we recognize the minute we hear the address. But every BS call you go on can be wiped away by one in which your knowledge and skills make a difference. The ER docs telling me and my crew that we did a great job was one of the best things we could hear.
I am very fortunate to have served for 32 years. I never sustained a serious injury or had problems with PTSD. I realize my situation is not typical. Each medic handles things in a different way. I would like to thank Ms. Backberg for writing an excellent article.
—Roy Martinez, fire lieutenant (ret.), Savannah, Tex.
Vietnam and the Challenges of Culture
While flipping through my latest issue of EMS World, I came to the story about the difficulties EMS is having in Vietnam and couldn't stop reading ["Vietnam and the Challenges of Culture," EMS Around the World, March 2019 issue]. Something grabbed me, and I felt like I was there, experiencing some of what Dr. Kot went through and is continuing to struggle with. The mind-set of having to interview 1,000 people to find the “Magnificent 12” made my head spin! The article transported me to the streets of Vietnam with their EMS and back again. Nicely done!
—Lisa DeBoer, President, Pedi-Ed-Trics Emergency Medical Solutions
EMS and Active Shooter Training
Thank you for publishing my article on active shooter response [“Faster Care in Mass Shootings,” March 2019 issue]. The article was shared hundreds of times, and my local fire and police departments have decided to make an active shooter exercise a yearly event. I have also noticed an uptick in active shooter interest throughout my county. I appreciate the opportunity to make a noticeable impact in this important area.
I enjoyed reading your article "Does EMS Need a New Name?". It was almost two years ago that I was promoted from chief of EMS to division chief of medical services. Dropping emergency from the name was deliberate in recognition of our MIH programs and what our paramedics were doing in the field. This is a little different than the subject of your article, but I still found it interesting. I would be curious to know if other departments around the country use this name.
—Richard Ellis, Division Chief of Medical Services, Palm Beach County (Fla.) Fire Rescue