Friday, May 16, 2008

Equality? What's the difference

AD asked a good question in the comments on my last post.

Okay, here's one question. Everyone at your department is dual certified. I'm of the opinion that fire suppression and EMS are sufficiently disparate professions, both of them complex enough, that competency at both is achievable, but mastery of both is not. At some point, you have to decide where your heart lies, and where you're going to devote the majority of your time and attention.

I think your questions gives something away. Let me ask him, and the rest of you folks another;

Do you want equality or do you want acceptance? There are different paths to each.

From a firefighters standpoint, if you want equality then make what do in your job equal to what I do in mine. On one hand folks here are trying to make the point if you are only doing EMS, and I am only doing Fire, then we should accept each other as doing an equal job.

I call bullshit.

Are the accountant and the lawyer doing equal jobs? They both had to go to school. They both had to pass a test. Does that make them equal? Do you think for one minute that they look at the other and demand the other recognize that they are the same?

Guys if it ain't the same, it ain't equal. You have to understand that, if you want what you say you do "To have equality in the fire station".

Now that I have pissed all of my EMS readers off, think about this: Do you really want equality? Or do you want respect and acceptances as one professional to another?

If what you want is to be recognized as doing a professional, challenging job, then we have a whole 'nuther ballgame.

So I'm asking AD, and anybody else that wants to weigh in, "What is it you really want? Do you want equality? Or do you want acceptance?"

I have lots of thoughts on both.

Mr Fixit


Gary said...

I totally agree with you. EMS and the fire service aren't equal. EMS is a far more demanding field. The problem is that it is also a far less organized field than the fire service is. Nor can we even agree how to be organized to get the pay, benefits, respect, and working conditions we deserve.

A close friend of mine recently left EMS for the fire department. He actually was a cop for a while after he left EMS, then he went to the fire department. Of the three, he tells me that on a day to day grind basis EMS far harder to do than either of the other two.

Your turn.

Ambulance Driver said...

"So I'm asking AD, and anybody else that wants to weigh in, "What is it you really want? Do you want equality? Or do you want acceptance?""

So how is it that both are mutually exclusive?

I'll settle simply for respect.

"I call bullshit."

Why? Because I can tell you, the curricula for paramedic, with a stop along the way for EMT-B to even get in that medic class, is a heckuva lot longer and more complex than say, Firefighter 1.

Is it as physically demanding as fighting fires? Not usually.

Is it as physically dangerous as fighting fires? Not usually. Then again, OTJ fatalities among EMS, fire and law enforcement are all comparable, within a percentage point of one another.

But here's the thing: If you aren't running EMS calls as part of your FD job, then you aren't exerting yourself or risking your life all that often, are you?

But then again, you're comparing apples to oranges, and asking either to taste like both because they're mixed in the same basket.

And no, the accountant and the lawyer aren't the same. Then again, they don't claim to be. You don't hire a lawyer to do your taxes, and you don't have an accountant represent you in your divorce.

That's because neither is better or worse than the other, they just have different jobs.

Like EMS and fire suppression, for example.

But let's use your example:

"Murray, you're a damned fine accountant. I don't know how I'd manage my finances without you. But I'd like my household to run a bit more efficiently, so I need you to handle my legal matters as well. So I'm going to send you to Shysters R Us law school at night. Once you graduate, you'll still be handling my taxes. But you'll also be handling by real estate holdings, my estate planning, representing my adolescent son in his drug case, suing the police department in my unreasonable force case, getting me a cash settlement for my OTJ injury and my Dad's mesothelioma and asbestos exposure, and handling my divorce. So you'll need to be an expert in estate law, criminal defense, personal injury law, family law, and juvenile addition to being the damned fine accountant that you already are.

By the way, this extra work is going to quadruple your workload, and you can expect to do 80% lawyering and 20% accounting.

And to show you what a generous guy I am and to show you how much I respect the legal work you do...I'll pay you an extra $125 a month."

Do you think Murray the accountant might just go tell you to piss up a rope, or be a pretty shitty and uninspired lawyer if he does take your deal?

Gertrude said...

I work in an integratged system. I am a civilian paramedic working in the firehouse. There are very few of us because the department also has ff/pm. The civilians were initially brought in to help with staffing problems and a lack of paramedics. While the Fire side does get more of the money for training and cool new toys, we are not shunned or passed over for promotions or anything else because we are EMS.In fact they are just as protective of us as they are their firefighters. The biggest problems we have with equality is that the part time medics don't have a permanent assignment so they float betwen stations ( the full timers do) and the fire/medics make more than some people would like to see.
In my city all of our FF have to be atleast to an EMT-E level. They are not required to go any higher than that. (on our box we ride a P and E.) The city I came from required everyone to become an EMT-I or Paramedic. That forced people into jobs that they did not ever want to do. Because of it you had bad patient care and a piss poor attitude in the fire house. Everyone there hated EMS because of it.
I think that if we allow our people to be medics, if that is what they want to do, than the problems will be less. You will have better patient care and happier people. Forcing anyone to cross train in either direction is detrimental to your department.
There is another city close to me that is seperate Fire and EMS. They have just as many issues as dual departments. There is constant bickering between the two. It affects patient care and they do not go out of their way to help each other at all. It is a shame really.

I think my department has gotten the closest to equality that I have seen so far. And it still has its problems.