The ‘M’ in EMS Stands for Medical: Tackling Fire/EMS Challenges

By Jay Fitch, PhD

As I pulled on my bunker pants, I started whining about taking a middle-of-the-night, low-priority ambulance call.

It was early in my career, and an older firefighter leaned over and said, “Son, remember that the M on your EMS patch stands for medical, so quit whining and just get on with it.”

Things didn’t get better on the scene.

I acted arrogant, annoyed and was thinking, “This patient didn’t need to call 911.” Truth told, I judged the patient and was just going through the motions.

What’s worse, in my rushing, I missed a key element in the secondary assessment that could have changed the patient’s outcome had not it been caught. The older/wiser firefighter quietly stepped in and whispered, “Why not let me handle this?” He had already spotted my error and, in doing so, helped avoid compromising the care of our patient.

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