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EMS News in Focus
by Arthur Hsieh

Ma'am, you are a shining example of human kindness

The grace exhibited by the mother of a medic killed by a drunk driver is incredible

By Arthur Hsieh

While we as EMS providers might have differing opinions on all kinds of things, I think we're fairly united on one item: Drunk driving is egregious.

Many, if not most of us, have seen the result of an intoxicated individual using his or her 4000-pound blunt force weapon and attack another individual with it.

Often the results are tragic — a death. A permanent disability.

And almost as often there is irony — the intoxicated assailant walks away with nary a scratch.

It can make any one of us seethe with frustration and anger, while we try to manage the scene in a professional manner. So when one of our own is killed by a drunk driver, it's especially painful, and just seems that much more unfair.

There are two sources of solace to come out of this. First, the grace exhibited by Mr. Bower's mother during the interview, where she expressed no anger toward her son's killer.

Ma'am, you are a shining example of  human kindness. As a parent of grown children, I just don't know if I could ever find that level of peace within myself to forgive. So, thank you for showing the way.

Second, as EMS providers, we have a unique opportunity to reduce the frequency of this avoidable tragedy by timely and effective intervention.

We often see patients who are under the influence of alcohol, but are not seriously injured or ill. Especially if they are young, there is a potential "teachable moment" in the back of your unit where a simple series of questions can sometimes identify a person at risk for harm while intoxicated.

When asked in a nonjudgmental way, it's been shown to reduce the frequency of emergency department visits related to alcohol use.

In addition, as we occupy a position of respect and authority in our communities, we can show our citizens how to reduce the use of alcohol by young teens and adults, and potentially break the chain of events that puts someone behind the wheel while drunk.

We can do something about this. Tell me, what you're doing now — and share it with other readers who want to make a difference in their communities.

 

About the author

EMS1 Editorial Advisor Art Hsieh, MA, NREMT-P currently teaches at the Public Safety Training Center, Santa Rosa Junior College in the Emergency Care Program. Since 1982, Art has worked as a line medic and chief officer in the private, third service and fire-based EMS. He has directed both primary and EMS continuing education programs. Art is a textbook author, has presented at conferences nationwide, and continues to provide patient care at an EMS service in Northern California. Contact Art at Art.Hsieh@ems1.com.
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