Thursday, September 2, 2010

You Just Cannot Make This Sh*t Up!

OK Folks, pay attention, this could be the post that leads to me losing my job if anybody connects this blog to who I am in the real world. I do not refer here to my EMS job, which is volunteer. I don't know if I could risk that. No, rather I refer to the paying job by which I provide shelter and sustinance to my family and myself. This is why I chose to remain anonymous so I can share stories like this.
 It all started with THIS, so go read that post if you haven't.

Honestly when that was over I thought it was a done deal and we could all move on. Apparently I got on the bad side of the Corporate Industrial Hygienist and she decided that "we have a cowboy out there we need to rein in". She has had further contact with the Safety people at my facility and told them I can no longer fuction as an EMT within the facility. Apparently when she called my States Department of Health to check on the local rules, they told her that an EMT in our great state may not dispense medications when not responding within their response area. In other words, our interventions are controlled by our agency medical control and when we are not under that control we cannot use those prescriptive interventions because we have no medical oversight. (This includes Oxygen.) I get this, and my hope was that we could get a small bottle in the building on a non-prescription basis under this elusive FDA regulation which allows it. I mistakenly thought these EHS folks would know more about those regs than I did. I am learning otherwise.
 So I get this call from our EHS Weenie [EHSW] who is educated well beyond her intelligence. Honestly she tried, but she is hopeless. The following conversation sounds like I am yelling at her in a demeaning manner, but one thing she clearly understands is that I am not mad at her, rather at the company. She feels her job is to explain it to me, and barring that, explain my points to CORPORATE (queue the echoing thunder).

EHSW: So they tell me that if you are not responding with your Agency you cannot perform as an EMT.
ME: What! Do you have a clue what you are saying, let alone implying?
EHSW: Not really. It's no big deal. You can still help people, but only at the level our other first reponders are trained.
ME: First of all, we have no First Responders, we have First Aiders who are trained by [Deleted national training organization] who sends instructors who have never treated more than a finger cut and never participated in CPR. They are good people and try hard, but they can't identify an MI, stroke, or diabetic emergency, they have no training in that area.
EHSW: Well we never have those things here.
ME: Not yet.
EHSW: Well, I'm just telling you what they told me.
ME: OK, then you can tell them this: I need a letter from the company explaining what I can and cannot do to help someone, and it needs to be signed and notarized.
EHSW: What do you need that for?
ME: To bring into Court to defend myself against the abandonment charges.
EHSW: What's "Abandonment" mean?
ME: That's what they call it when you stand there and watch someone die when you might have saved them if you just tried. Anyway, don't bother your head with that, the corporate lawyers will deal with it, because a family is really going to go after them more than me. They have big money, I don't. Once I show the letter I am free and clear and the Corporation is probably holding the bag bigtime because they instructed me to withhold treatment. By the way, this is called "Obstruction of Emergency Services".
EHSW: Look, I know you are upset and I understa......
ME: DON"T YOU DARE FINISH THAT SENTENCE. You have no idea now I feel and likely never will. When you are called to a sick or injured person and arrive to find an unconscious and unresponsive person on the floor barely breathing and you look around and realize everybody is looking at YOU to DO SOMETHING and you realize this person's health, and perhaps their very life is in your hands and is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY for the next 15 minutes and you need to make a decision NOW on what to do, then you will have a clue. Repeat that experience a couple of hundred times and year and you will have a fair idea. I got into this business because I watched a friend die before me and I didn't know what to do. He had people who did, and they  took care of him but he died anyway. I had nightmares for 3 years until I finally decided to do something. I got some training and made up my mind that I would NEVER EVER watch somebody die again without doing everything in my power to reverse the process. Up to now I have kept that promise and no Corporate weenie is going to change that. I still have options.
EHSW: What options do you have. They are telling you that you can't do this.
ME: Sweetheart, you are young and naive. There are always options.
EHSW: So tell me, what options do you have?
ME: Nobody is making me work here, in fact it appears that some would prefer otherwise.
EHSW: You would quit!? Are you serious? Over THIS?
ME: In a New York minute sweetie. You cannot make me compromise my ethics and incidentally, I believe we have policy which states that. Kind of a conflict, don't you think? I was looking for a job when I found this one, I can move on. Been doing it for 40 years and I'm starting to get good at it.
EHSW: What do you want me to tell them.
ME: heh, heh, nice straight line, thanks. But I'll send you the States DOH law which states that an EMT performing in or outside their agency boundaries is held blameless. That should shut them up because it covers their asses. If it doesn't.. we'll we move on from there and each do what we have to do. by the way, what do you think the union folks are gonna do when they find out you took me out of the game?
EHSW: (With a giggle) Oh, lets not go there.
ME: I'm not going there, you are, and you better have a damage control plan. I'm not in the union, but most of my patients are union members and they've been pretty clear that they like having me around. You might want to think about the impact of your actions. The contract negotiations come up in, what, about 8 weeks? Ohh, that's rough timing for you guys, isn't it? Then of course, if I don't work here anymore, that would make it easier for you wouldn't it? But then you have the issue of finding a replacement for me. As I recall it took the company 5 years to find and hire me, didn't it? Well, maybe it will be easier next time, right? But then again on the downside, I DO write freelance for some of the widely read Environmental Health and Safety Magazines don't I? So perhaps my experiences might show up in some of my writing, now THAT would be embarrassing, wouldn't it? Especially for a Corporation that boasts about how it cares for it's employees and the environment with progressive plans on all fronts. One ugly article could cost them millions in PR dollars. All that because the company is afraid I might make a mistake and they MIGHT get sued, even though I enjoy protections under the law, and even though there has never, in the entire history of the Good Samaritan laws in our country, been a successful case against a responder that acted within his training. Even tough there are countless successful cases against employers in this country for not planning for and providing care for reasonably predictable incidents and injuries. By the way, "Risk Assessment" is part of YOUR job right? Pity, but I suppose the corporation will supply you a good lawyer.
EHSW: Are you tryiing to scare me? Because it's working and I don't like it.
ME: Well maybe, but more or less I am trying to educate you as to what you are in for when you pee in somebody else's puddle and you don't understand the ramifications. I have no intention of making this ugly. If you and the Corporation persist in this lunacy, I will go away simply because I will not be a part of it. You will bear the responsibility even if you don't understand it. Hopefully nobody will suffer too much because of it. Someday when you are working in another place you will think of me, and this conversation, and realize that you were so wrong and made some really bad decisions, and you will feel bad. The shame of it, is that these people outside your office will have suffered so that you might be educated. Don't feel bad now, it happens all the time in Corporate America. You'll feel bad enough in about 20 years, just wait for it.

I say again, you just can't make this stuff up. To be continued....


  1. Well shit...sounds like my last, non-EMS employer. Long story short, I was able to wrangle with my states' abandonment laws which were very clear about what I could and couldn't do. I am sorry that they are acting like political dicks. Wish I could help you.

    Be safe my friend,

  2. Wow, I love it when people just don't get it. Hope it all ends well for you and maybe, just maybe, they will get it.