EMS on Fire

Firefighters unions oppose any and all incursions by private ambulance companies into our turf. All 911 calls are handled by the appropriate agencies, in Rhode Island’s case, local fire departments. Private companies are always trying to get into the “lucrative” 911 business. A line is drawn, sides taken, an Us against Them environment fostered.

Nonsense I say!

Nonsense. There, I said it. Finally.

I am not a fan of EMS for profit. Something is fundamentally wrong, there. Something is fundamentally wrong with EMS, for that matter. Our industry has allowed itself to be cheapened by doing everything. Just calling EMS an industry is ridiculous. Calling what we do EMERGENCY Medical Services is ridiculous. If I were running the show, there would be two very distinctive departments working under one umbrella. We would have EMS, which we all know and love, and MMS, short for Mobile Medical Services.  Fire Departments would provide proper EMS services, and if they were unwilling or unable, private companies would bid for the job. People who need a ride to the doctors or Emergency room would use the MMS and pay for the service out of pocket.

Of course, this being the Land of the Free, we must consider that the dialysis patient “might” have anEric Norberg 8 emergency during transport, or the heroin addict “might” have an emergency during transport, or the elderly person “might” have an emergency on the way to the doctor’s office, then, everything becomes an emergency, and there are plenty of private companies waiting to fill their ambulances and pockets with government and insurance company money to provide “Emergency Medical Services” for routine transports.

Fire departments are not much better. We sit upon our throne, answering the 911 calls as they come, never thinking of the future, or even the present state of our service, or the people who make up that service. When a private company secures a contract to provide EMS at a private event, we are supposed to unite, and stand strong, shoulder to shoulder and oppose the evil entity that dares stepping on our toes.

I bet if we put a BLS ambulance behind every fire company in the city, and sent them to pick up the BLS calls some things would change, first thing being the line in the sand attitude concerning private EMS.

It is easy to be a pro-union person, and say all of the right things about modifying the present system when you are not a victim of the system. If everybody “got off the truck,” as is vociferously suggested by my brothers whenever I dare mention that the run volume is killing me, there would be nobody on the truck, and that would be that.

Why can we never be progressive? Is it always so black and white? Us vs. Them, Public vs. Private, Conservative VS Liberal, Republican VS Democrat, it’s enough to make me crazy. I don’t want to play these games anymore. There has to be a better way. I suggest some sort of compromise. Bring in private EMS. Work together, come up with a plan. Maybe between the two entities we could improve a broken system.

Because the fire department in Providence is doing a horrible job with EMS.

There, I said that, too, and it kills me to do so, but the truth is obvious to anybody who bothers to look.



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