From The Desk Of The RockStar Medic

What’s With The Negativity?

I follow several other educators in various online forums, and subscribe to several EMS Groups through various online avenues.  I find myself noticing a disturbing trend.  Someone will post a topic for discussion, followed by a rapid descent into anarchy.  Any reader with experience in EMS can rapidly sort through the thoughtful responses of the more experienced providers and the idealistic comments of the new provider, who still believes that everything their EMS Instructor told them was the Word of God.  I often find myself trying to categorize these comments into some order within my mind… Newbie, Veteran, Burned Out, Over-Achiever, etc.  I started noticing that some comments were individuals trying to learn something, some were simply looking to light a fire and watch it burn, and some were so firmly entrenched in their dogmatic views that they were incapable of considering any other ideas.

Needless to say, I realized that many of these forums turn into a bickering match between various individuals.  Often times, the original intent of the thread is lost entirely and individuals become mired in the argument.  One person posts a viewpoint, then the next person comments on how idiotic that is, never stopping to consider that the rules, regulations, and scope of practice vary greatly between states and municipalities.  I am constantly amazed at the variations within scope of practice between various states in the US, but even more so by the differences between neighboring agencies.  I think sometimes we forget that the person commenting on how something is done in their agency doesn’t set the policy of the treatment algorithm, the Physician Adviser for the agency does.  This individual may have little or no opportunity to change the paradigm in their agency.  Furthermore, often times, we fail to consider that treatment modalities may vary based on available resources.  For instance, if you are working in a metro area with several large Level 1 Trauma Centers within 10 minutes, that is an enormous difference from the rural agency that has a 40 minute transport to a Level IV Trauma Center, then it is only another hour and a half by fixed wing to get the patient to a Level I Trauma Center.  These types of differences can change the way agencies are instructed to manage situations.

Perhaps, we need to change our paradigm as a profession when it comes to online interaction.  Perhaps, rather than attacking a different perspective with the goal of disproving the point, we should take the time to gather more information.  Ask some follow up questions to gauge the circumstances surrounding the perspective.  Maybe, and I know this is crazy talk, we should examine this differing perspective, investigate a little bit, do some research and see if maybe, just maybe, there is some validity to the point being made.  Who knows, we might even learn something new!  If we could approach these online discussions with the personal intent of learning something new, rather than asserting our intellectual dominance, imagine the positive outcomes for each of us as individuals and as a profession.

I would challenge each of us to make furthering our profession the goal of these online interactions.  Look for the participants which are genuinely trying to improve themselves and take the opportunity to share your knowledge.  Try to ensure that we are sharing our knowledge without trashing someone else, or their current practice.  Make a point to share supportive articles, or background information, but avoid the article written by Mr. I. P. Freely, published in DitchCric Monthly EMS Facebook Page.  When you see a viewpoint that differs from your own, take a moment and ask yourself if this is a learning opportunity to improve yourself, before blasting off a long rant about the ignorance of the idea.  There are so many things we can teach each other in a professional and courteous manner, let’s avoid bickering and snippy remarks.  Approach each interaction with an open mind, and a plan to learn something new, and you may just be surprised by how much you accomplish.  In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, ” You must be the change you hope to see in the world.”

Stay safe out there, and never settle for ordinary….. Be A RockStar Medic!!!