The debate has started in the Blog and Twitter worlds regarding EMS Pay. Is it possible to support a family on a 40 hour paycheck as an EMT or Paramedic? Many say “no” and its hard to find people who can make it work. In the Company I work for, the desire for more money is always there, but I feel that there is a big misconception in a lot of EMS Services, my own included.
Like it or not, EMS is still in its “toddler” phase. We’ve just learned to walk, and we will eventually learn how to run. We’re sitting here, eyes at table level looking at that juicy prize that is just out of our reach, and we need to figure out how to get it. For the time being, we might need to work for less money and show our value, so we can get more pay in the future. We need to let our field develop and play active rolls in its development. Many, however, want to be given pay for a job not yet done. People want the pay in order to make them professionals. What we need to do is be professional to earn that desired pay.
The important task to focus on now is to work on our image in the public’s eye as providers, people, and caregivers. We need to show the population that we serve what we are capable of. It’s rather clear that we, within our community, convey our message to each other. This is evident simply by looking at the Social Networking movement that many of us are involved with.
We need to find a public forum. We need to find a way to get people listen. Public education I feel is a great path for us all to start down. Bring people in for mass CPR classes, and couple it with a piece about who the EMTs and Paramedics are. We need to try and establish partnerships and get involved with organizations like the Red Cross. When our people go above and beyond, put them out there, and show the world what they have done. None of us want the world’s exposure to EMS to be through shows like Trauma, and incidents like the recent ones in Washington DC, the United Kingdom and Arkansas. Take a look around you, find the positive and promote it.
Finally, we need to keep in mind that right now what we lack is the ability to turn EMS into a career. This is a very hard job to do for 40 years until retirement, and in many organizations, its difficult to find a way to climb that ladder into a leadership role.
Until we unite, we will live in the shadow of the other two branches of public safety. We will be looked at by other professionals simply as Ambulance Drivers. We will continue to receive minimal pay as our scope of practice expands. So take the time each day to try and educate just one person on what it means to be an EMT, and to be involved in this great field that we work in, and this great movement that we are all becoming part of: EMS 2.0. Divided, we will end up working against each other whether we like it or not, but if we are able to work together, the sky is the limit.