I posted this as a comment on Ambulance Drivers blog. I ended up getting a bit wordy I guess.
I posted it here as well so that any of the
lazy firefighters other hose monkeys who I might offend can take me to task here, without cluttering up AD's place.
I also invite your comments on it all.
AD you're right. And I still think you're a little wrong too.
I also know you don't hate hose monkeys. (Hey who could hate a cute little monkey?)
And the more I think about this the more it really does seem like a Men vs. Women thing.
(Would that make me a cross-dresser?)
Anyway, back to the argument/dialog.
Regardless of what size or type of department you talk about, the understanding/acceptance/respect will have to start with individuals.
Let me tell you a couple of secrets about the fire service;
A lot of people believe that it's easy to get a fire department job. They think that firemen need no college or technical education to get hired. And they think that we sit around all day playing dominoes and washing the trucks.
Well, that's not completely true, but it is based on some fact. The truth of that tends to attract employees to the fire service that are, shall we say sometimes less the energetic. They want to sit around all day and play dominoes. If they are forced to do any more than that they are unhappy and do it poorly.
On the other hand, we hire a great number of people who know what the job is, and want to do it well. They truly want to help people, whether it be working car wrecks, house fires, or pure
On the other hand, that first group doesn't even make good firemen, much less anything else.
As someone else pointed out on Rouge Medics blog I think, being a basic firefighter is not that technical. Once you learn the basics, you really don’t forget them. It’s only when you start to add the driver/engineer training, or the Haz-Mat, Rope Rescue, Swift Water, Confined Space, Officer 1 and 2, that you really start getting into things you need to continuously study/practice to do well.
And you know what else? Being a Haz-Mat tech has about as much to do with being a basic fireman as being a Paramedic does. Same goes for almost all the other “extra” training I cited above. So why is it that we just accept that a fireman can be a good Rope Rescue guy, but it’s hard to accept that a fireman can be a good paramedic? Notice that I didn’t say a good firefighter and Rope Rescue and paramedic.
So, back to your question “What will it take for medics to achieve equality in the firehouse?”
If we are talking about an integrated department then I offer the following:
First and foremost the hiring standards need to be the same. You can’t expect equality if you hire a person with a high school diploma to be a fireman, and require a medic to have a 2-year degree to get hired.
Second, pay and benefits need to be the same- on a base level. Stand by, I’ll come back to this in a moment.
Third, train everyone to both basic EMT, and basic firefighter levels. That way when the medic asks the fireman for a 4X4, he doesn’t come back with a piece of wood. Also, the medics won’t stand there looking like a lost kid when a fireman asks for something off the truck.
Fourth, allow the employees to pick a preferred specialty in addition to the basics that everyone has. Let the folks who want to do EMS do
Fifth, pay folks for what they do. Some call it certification pay. Figure out some way to compensate for the additional workload and training required for the specialty they have. Paramedics would likely get the most in a fair system.
Sixth, promotions need to be based on competitive testing. The basic FF/paramedic and the FF/Haz-Mat tech should be allowed to compete for the same promotion to the next level, everyone understanding what exactly that job is. Only after passing the test and promoting should they be required to gain the certifications needed in that job.
Seventh, allow lateral transfers. If one of the Medics has grown tired of
That’s my take on a combination department.
For separate services to get along, I think it’s a matter of education. We must educate the public, and by doing that we educate the various services. Both the police and fire departments have done well with “public safety education” in schools. We need to add