Why don't medics get the same recognition as firefighters and police?

Read the response and add your own thoughts in the comments.

A question posted recently on Quora asked “Why are paramedics not give the same recognition as firefighters and officers"? Former paramedic Anderson Moorer gave his opinion on the topic. Read his response, and add your own to the comments.


By Anderson Moorer, EMS1 Contributor

Paramedics are really a very new role in emergency response, having come into existence around the 1960's, whereas police and firefighters have been around for at least 1,000 years.

For the past 40 years or so, paramedics have been defining exactly how they fit in with hospitals, fire departments, and police agencies. 

A paramedic is something like a nurse or physician assistant, and they are ultimately always agents of medical doctors who direct the care they give, so perhaps they should be run by hospitals. But they are also very much like firefighters, so maybe they should be part of fire departments. But it's also increasingly valuable for police to be trained as medics and for paramedics to be part of SWAT teams, riot response and the like ... so perhaps they belong in police departments too. 

And in fact all are true — you find paramedics in all roles, inside hospitals, fire departments and police agencies, as well as in standalone private services, the military, costal rescue, etc. 

Furthermore, a "paramedic" is distinct from an "ambulance driver," so you have people with minimal health care training who perform transports of patients to hospitals and nursing homes and the like, and volunteers like the Red Cross with "ambulances," who are often confused with paramedics or who have some degree of basic life support (EMT) training.

So it's perhaps not as clear with what agency one might give recognition, and it’s not always clear when a paramedic is part of what's going on. Because paramedics are currently "embedded" in so many different roles, they also do not have the organized and powerful systems of unions and structures for press relations that police and fire agencies typically have. They lack an organized "voice" to call attention to their deeds, or their fallen.

But they are there, at all the fires, shootings and disasters. Paramedics died on 9/11 (43 of them, plus the firefighter/EMTs), and in general they are right beside their fellow emergency responders in moving towards danger when it happens.

They are among the police and firefighters, and for the most part understand when the public forgets to mention them, as they may well be police or firefighters themselves, or at the very least know that their comrades in the field understand they are a vital part of the teams being praised.

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