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EMS News in Focus
by Arthur Hsieh

Another sign things are unwell in the DCFD EMS system

For many years, the system has been plagued by poor management

By Arthur Hsieh

Huh boy. This story continues to receive traction because of one misstep after another.

I understand that much of the processes surrounding an EMS call is automated, but couldn't one person in the entire chain of command make the call to prevent this from happening?

To me, it's just another sign that things are unwell in the DCFD EMS system.

The word "system" is defined as a "set of things working together as parts of a mechanism or an interconnecting network" or a "set of connected things or parts forming a complex whole.”

The DC EMS system is neither. For many years, the system has been plagued by poor management, bad budgeting, low morale, and a set of seemingly intransigent set of unspoken rules that promotes mediocrity and a sense of entitlement.

What else would keep otherwise good people from performing well? I might well be criticized for picking out just one small misstep as emblematic of the greater issue.

Guilty as charged — but only if it points to the simple fact we deal with people when they are vulnerable. It would seem that they could do better than this.

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
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