Medics’ tweets show a stressed EMS workforce

Complaints broadcast to the world 120 characters at a time should spark EMS managers to address underlying system problems

A group of medics anonymously tweeting and posting to Facebook about the lack of ambulances in the community shows the ‘suck factor’ in the workplace is high. 

In an "On EMS Leadership" column about the 'suck factor' John Becknell explains, "When a paramedic says, ‘This sucks,’ it’s a window into your culture." 
The tweets from @StatusCodeRed are a clear indication that conditions 'suck' for many EMS providers in Alberta, Canada. 

Social media as an outlet

Although the intent of the tweets may be to communicate to the public the status of the system, they also draw attention to a group of frustrated medics that feel overworked, underappreciated, and under the constant strain of worsening PTSD – which was highlighted as the underlying cause of a colleague’s recent suicide.  

When personnel turn to social media to complain about working conditions, too often management responds by exposing the anonymous complainers and disciplining them for insubordination or other policy violations. 

Meanwhile, if the problem is not addressed the 'suck factor' remains high. Dissatisfaction may rise if other medics perceive there is more energy and resources expended on the investigation rather than system improvement. For employees, airing grievances through  social media has low friction. It is much easier to tweet or post outrage on Facebook than it is to follow existing reporting procedures. 

But in the long run, if your organization's ‘suck factor’ is high, it’s more effective to first address it calmly, quietly, and internally before broadcasting it to the world 120 characters at a time. 

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