Top 10 subtle signs your EMS agency isn't a proud community partner

#10: The occupational licenses posted at your ambulance stations list the type of business as "Chauffeur/ taxi service."

Updated May 20, 2014

Normally I am alerted to the approach of EMS Week by the high pollen count and the sharp increase in drunken, sunburned revelers we pull from the area lakes and rivers about this time every year. Nothing says, "It's time to celebrate those heroes in EMS!" like a Budweiser-besotted redneck with a negative tooth-tattoo ratio, professing his love for your chosen profession between retches and slurred protestations that "this %^$& collar thang is too tight on mah neck!" 

But since I started seeing guys like that way back in April, I lost track of the passing days until EMS Week was right around the corner. I'm blaming it all on global warming.

EMS Week is as much about being celebrated as it is about showing our communities that we're here to work alongside them. And to show Joe Sixpack and Suzy Soccermom what good community partners we are, EMS crews around the country will spend the week … well, taking blood pressures at Wal Mart like we always do, I guess. We are nothing if not predictable.

But after all the politicians have made their proclamations, the leftover barbecue has been consumed and the local ER nurses have lost all the snazzy pens and trinkets you've handed out, how do we know that our community really considers us a proud partner? Or just as importantly, that they don't?

In that vein, I give you the Top Ten Subtle Signs Your Agency Isn't A Proud Community Partner:

The occupational licenses posted at your ambulance stations list the type of business as "Chauffeur/ taxi service."
Whenever the newspaper photographer shows up at a wreck scene, your medics are always identified in the next day's edition as "unidentified bystander in reflective vest."
Your agency's 911 ambulance contract has the company name handwritten in a blank space labeled in subscript, "Insert name of funeral home here."
The local chapter of MADD stages a mock crash during Operation Prom Week, and the ambulances used are from your competitor in the neighboring county.
Your son tells you that you've been bumped from your spot speaking to his grade school class on Career Day in favor of Jimmy Miller's dad, who owns a turtle farm.
The city finally opens the new ambulance station they've promised you for years, and the ribbon-cutting ceremony consists of your Operations Manager borrowing your trauma shears to cut through the tape labeled, "Crime Scene: Do Not Cross."
Your new sprint truck first saw service life with the county highway its road kill cleanup vehicle.
Your booth assignment at the local job fair is sandwiched between the taxidermy school and the diesel driving academy.
The local ER throws an EMS Week barbecue and invites the local fire department and your on-duty ambulance crew…and then sends the crew on an inter-facility transfer halfway through their meal.
In response to the swine flu panic, the public health department hands out N-95 respirators to all local emergency healthcare personnel…but a significant number of the masks issued to your agency bear lipstick marks and smell faintly of cologne.

Happy EMS Week, folks, and beware of Sumdood! He's still out there, and he's only getting stronger…

About the author

Kelly Grayson, NRP, CCEMT-P, is a critical care paramedic in Louisiana. He has spent the past 24 years as a field paramedic, critical care transport paramedic, field supervisor and educator. He is president of the Louisiana Society of EMS Educators and a board member of the LA Association of Nationally Registered EMTs.

He is a frequent EMS conference speaker and contributor to various EMS training texts, and is the author of the popular blog A Day In the Life of an Ambulance Driver. Kelly's books are available on his author page at You can follow him on Twitter (@AmboDriver) or Facebook, or email him at Kelly is a member of the EMS1 Editorial Advisory Board.

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