We under the First Responders Network blogosphere have a stated mission based on the continued progress of EMS as a profession and utilizing all facets of the job to accomplish this. This is why it’s not just frustrating, not just embarrassing, but truly disheartening to hear of systems in which the polar opposite of progress is found. Even worse so is to have it occurring in your backyard.

I’ve become the resident Baltimore area blogger for FRN, I’m glad to say that through social media we’ve been able to establish a blog network which has contributing writers from quite literally every corner of the United States and internationally, in a wide variety of systems. Unfortunately, that means that when there’s a problem evident in your local system, you’re expected to comment on it. I wish it wasn’t me sometimes.

Let’s start with DC. What on earth were you thinking?! Being a resident of the greater DC metro area for much of my formative years I can say that I’m no stranger to the idiosyncrasies of the District’s politics. As The Happy Medic and Motorcop have made clear, nowhere else in the nation will a mayor not be qualified for a minimum wage job, and yet manage to get reelected. That’s beside the point. The point is, who in their right mind would ever suggest that Fire and EMS personnel would act as a crime deterrent? Furthermore what happened to waiting for your scene to be secure? As a burgeoning EMS educator I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to rehearse with students what scene safety really means. How are we supposed to continue educating our EMT’s, Paramedics, Firefighters if we only expect them to go out and find their unsecure scene on the corners of Southeast? I’m keeping this rant brief, because there is plenty more to come. DCFEMS I pity you, I pity the fact that your EMS division has had nothing but pitfalls and shortcomings in recent memory. I really do hope that a valued system can be made in DC or for the District. More importantly, when are we going to stop letting our elected leaders push around our departments? I don’t work for a municipality, and therefore I have my own complications in toeing the corporate line with what is good patient advocacy; but I have to imagine there is more to be said for what DC’s council has proposed with utilizing what they clearly suggest to be unimportant government employees as newly appointed “crime deterring uniformed personnel” or whatever your job title is. The only benefit to this move by the District is that those with the traditional EMS alphabet soup following their name will be able to shorten it to Your Name, Superhero – seeing as they’re fighting crime now too.

Enough with DC, this isn’t anything new.

Let’s take it up the road about 40 miles to Baltimore. Look at you, you are a disgrace, I can’t believe with all that’s happened in the past you would even dare try and sneak by with YET ANOTHER cheating scandal. Pardon me for being emotional about this. I love this city; I left high school and came to college here. This was the first major city I ever really explored on my own, I learned about its working class neighborhoods, the vacant buildings, the financial district, the medical parks. Baltimore is a city which when I crest I-395 approaching Conway St. I still get a little excited, It’s fun being in a “big” city. I know we aren’t really big, but still, it’s a city which I feel so very at home in. Even the gruff attitude and the sometimes grating accent isn’t enough to deter me. It’s not that I’m a native Baltimorean by any means, It’s been a long journey to come here. There are many accents that sound like home to me, be it the round and full of life Houston, the tip-of-the-tongue jumble of Cajun New Orleans, the mothering sound of a city based Creole accent, but nothing quite makes me feel like I’m where I belong like someone saying, “Welcome to Bawl’mer Hon”. I take a lot of pride in this dirty city, it really has a mesmerizing charm about it.

Which is why it’s so difficult to sit back and realize that again we are dealing with a system that is so broken and so in need of a revolution that I can’t honestly see a way out for them. Be my guest and read the following article as posted by WBAL News here in Baltimore.

Now people are going to be crucified for this scandal, they always are. Although do you really think that the recruits and instructors are the only ones at fault here? This is much broader than just a group of instructors or recruits having the answers to the tests, this is about maintaining integrity at all levels of leadership, and being held accountable when you fail. Nothing will sooner usurp the perceived nobility of public safety than a public demonstration of a lack of integrity.
Clearly Baltimore has yet to learn their lesson. This isn’t the first time either, and I’d be willing to bet that the way this one came down the pipe is the same as the others, city council members recognizing a need for specific recruits and issuing some subtle suggestions about “making them pass”. We know that the City hasn’t had the best record when it comes to training. That can be improved. What cannot be improved is a lack honesty, trustworthiness, and general assurance of quality from the leadership of not only the Fire Department, but also the City. When a city decides to give up on its public safety in a way which denies those departments their ability to function, you have a problem that reaches far beyond simply a cheating scandal.

Please do not interpret this as my attempt to pass blame along to other worthy parties. What occurred at the academy is both disgraceful and hugely immoral. The providers that you are putting through to the street are a reflection of your training and therefore a direct measure of your ability to both lead and instruct. Passing a test is one thing, inspiring a new class of healthcare professionals (which is what they are) is something else. I beg the City to look beyond the numbers; your EMS professionals can be strong if you invest in them. Numbers don’t save lives, well trained, fully staffed, and funded EMS systems do. If the people of the City of Baltimore have any faith left in their Fire Service then they will not stand for this, not because it is wrong, but because the problem is so much more than just instructors and recruits.

I’m an Eagle Scout, I’m proud of that. I really valued my time in the Boy Scouts of America and I think that the Scout Law truly applies in this case. Therefore, I conclude this posting with something that clearly the leadership within our Fire Department need reminding of.

Instead of “A Scout Is…” I’m substituting “A Decent Human Being Is….”

Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Curteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.

Also – if you are to be brave, and many of us either claim to be or strive to be, you must also adhere to the other eleven principles.