Rescue Chic connects the women of EMS
Paramedic Dannie Myers created her brand Rescue Chic to connect, inspire and outfit women in emergency services
In EMS, it can be easy to forget you’re a woman.
When Dannie Myers became an EMT in San Diego in 1994, at age 19, she joined the ranks with her hair pulled back, no makeup, and baggy clothes that made her look like one of the guys.
She also worked with some “complete jerks.”
“We will make you cry. We will make you quit. That’s what they thought of me,” Myers said.
She got all the dirty jobs at the station, and recalls some of the men purposefully showering with the door open so she could see them. Friends suggested she file a sexual harassment claim, but she knew her career would end before it even started.
“If you were a girl who sued, everyone was afraid of you,” Myers said. “I wanted to go into this career with a clean slate. I didn’t want that hanging over my head.”
So she powered through.
“Over time they saw they weren’t going to break me,” she said. “And they started being cool.”
You can be tough and still be a girl
The premise that ‘you can be tough and still be a girl’ sums up Rescue Chic, a brand Myers created to help females in emergency services connect with each other on a global scale, and celebrate being a woman in a male-dominated field.
Her Facebook page serves as a growing network for females to share and learn about other EMS systems, find camaraderie amongst women in the same field, and swap stories and advice - like when to tell your boss you’re pregnant, or how long to work before taking maternity leave.
She’s said she’s met many women who are the only females in their departments, and often the first females in their departments, and the online network provides a much-needed outlet.
“You get the feedback from other girls,” Myers said. “If you don't have any in your department, you have no one to turn to.”
|Myers modeling the first T-shirt she designed. (Image Dannie Myers)|
Myers also recently launched an apparel line featuring clothing like T-shirts, hoodies and athletic wear for women who want to be fashionable in the field. Her headbands have been particularly popular.
“One thing we all laughed (and complained) about was how we all had to wear men’s clothes; men’s pants, men’s everything, and that there was nothing ‘for us,’” Myers said. “This is where Rescue Chic was born. I started sketching ideas of designs and pulled it all together.”
Paying it forward
Proceeds from Rescue Chic apparel sales go toward the recruitment, education, and enrichment of other females in the field. So far the financial support has been at a small scale when an opportunity arises; she’s donated money to GoFundMe campaigns to help providers that have been injured, and outfitted a paramedic participating in a combat challenge. She hopes to see the philanthropic side of her brand grow, and is working on achieving nonprofit status so that she can create a scholarship.
“Being able to mentor other girls is a way for me to pay it forward,” Myers said.
Long EMS and medical career
Myers’ career in EMS has come a long way since her early days when she suppressed her femininity. She went to paramedic school in Idaho and worked for Ada County Paramedics, while also performing high angle technical rescues as part of the agency’s special operations team.
After moving to San Diego, she’s served on a ground ambulance crew for AMR, as a flight paramedic for Mercy Air, and as a medical escort for American Care Air Ambulance. She went to nursing school after deciding to have kids, and now works as a critical care transport nurse and ER nurse.
But it was the 2007 JEMS Games that served as a catalyst for what would become Rescue Chic.
Connecting an international community
When she was chosen to participate in the medical simulation challenge, her team had low expectations.
“Our goal was to not look stupid,” she said.
Instead, they won.
|Myers participating in the 2007 Ferno Australia Paramedic Simulation Challenge. (Image Dannie Myers)|
Her team went on to win the Ferno Australia Paramedic Simulation Challenge that same year. At both competitions, Myers was the only female to make it to the finals.
“But I’m used to it,” she said.
The conference in Australia featured EMS providers from 35 countries, and Myers enjoyed chatting with people from around the world, and learning about different EMS structures and perspectives. She also sought out some of the other women who were there.
“I met several girls with the same kind of complaints,” Myers said. “One of the commonalities was not having something special for us.”
She stayed in touch with many of them, which eventually led to the creation of the Rescue Chic Facebook page with the intention of providing that ‘something special.’
In her experience, Myers said she has often found it advantageous to be a woman in EMS. She believes some patients respond better to a female provider in some situations: a rape victim, a child, a belligerent man.
Myers also stresses that although there may be some instances where a man can muscle his way through things, “I’ve never been in a situation where I couldn’t do it,” and the expectations should never be lowered based on gender.
She has also seen a growing acceptance of and advocacy for females across all areas of public safety.
“Women are getting leadership roles, and paving a path for other girls,” she said. “The next generation of boys will come in with women teaching them.”