Ambulance Drivers or Medics...

From: John Seidts (
Date: Tue Feb 11 2003 - 07:58:56 PST

        Flame off. Thanks for the support. Problem is, as you know, when
people think about common phrases in our lexicon, like ambulance driver, or
MBA, certain assumptions are made which really discredit the effort and
substance behind such titles. Those who pay for such important services as
EMS and financial planning should know what they are getting. Most
paramedics have come to really resent the title "ambulance driver" because
it connotates somebody like Bill Cosby showing up with beer on his breath to
drag you down the stairs and to the hospital and denigrates the profession
because of the negative images. Same as the jokes in my fraternity, which
was primarily made up of Chemical Engineering types, about MBA's. I've
helped a friend's wife work on papers she wrote when she was doing her MBA,
and her work was interesting and challenging- glad I'm not doing it. The
Russian and Physics are hard enough.
        Since we occupy a more conspicuous role in daily life, and come
under more pressure, the little things bother us more than before. We
really don't have an effective means to change public use of the term
"ambulance driver," and have many more important public health issues which
are much more crucial to deal with, like smoking, low fat diets, and
encouraging exercise; even here, we don't have much success in changing
public opinion, let alone habits.
        So once in a while, our opinion of the world we work in festers and
comes out like my diatribe and Hank's response. It is not because we are
high strung, burn outs who deal with death and critical issues every day.
In fact, many of our transports are really just drives to the hospital. But
characterizing our profession with a small portion of our work is pretty
demeaning. It's like calling an astronaut a "space ship driver", or a
firefighter a "fire truck driver." Most of us prefer to be called "Medics"
or "Paramedics."
        Another little story, from when I was working with a commercial
transport service, moving people in ambulances between hospitals and nursing
homes. My partner and I were loading an 80 year old guy on the ambulance
when one of us slipped on the ice, banging the stretcher on the ambulance.
This old guy looked up, with a foggy expression, straight at me, and said,
"Ya wasn't in the Medics, was ya." He then laid his head down, and said
almost embarassed and offered, "You's guys are probably just Ambulance
Drivers anyway."
        I didn't really understand what that meant until I met one of the
WC54 drivers later, and he explained to me how the ambulance systems worked
in WWII. So in WWII, veterans knew how to distinguish between those who
cared for them, the medics, and those who transported them, the ambulance
drivers. All Paramedics and EMT's want is the distinction of our true work
from the truck we ride on. I think the title Medic is well earned.
        In lots of municipal fire services which run paramedic staffed
ambulances, paramedics are hired and must go through fire training to work
on the ambulance. Lots of law suits, pay differences, and federal
regulations later, most of these services persist in titling their
"paramedics" as "firefighter/paramedics" even though we spend 99.9% of our
time working as "medics," not firefighters and several court cases have
established that legally. More of the same stuff.
        This information here is not to flame Jay; his support is
appreciated and his comments about humor right on. But hopefully, those
educated here on the list by us will kindly refer to us as "Paramedics," or
"Medics," and have some idea of why you might get a cold stare and a
suddenly less than 100% cheerful paramedic when you call him or her an
"ambulance driver."

----- Original Message -----
From: "J Travis" <>
To: "Military Vehicles Mailing List" <>
Sent: Tuesday, February 11, 2003 10:17 AM
Subject: Re: [MV] M728 question - mechanical (Flame)

> Henry,
> It seems I owe you an apology, and fair enough, but I'm somewhat
> surprised. Probably a little over half my friends off-list are either
> Paramedics, EMTs, or RNs, and to a one of them, you're the first
> Paramedic I've ever seen that can't seem to tell the difference between
> a JOKE and being serious. As for the comment itself, it was a line from
> one of Bill Cosby's comedy routines back in the 1960s, off a record
> called "200 M.P.H". And considering it was made following a comment
> about the idea of someone on the list being crazy enough to attempt
> riding a creeper underneath a moving truck until said truck stops short,
> sending them careening into the shop wall ala something out of a Wile E
> Coyote/Roadrunner cartoon (which I presume no one on this list is crazy
> enough to actually attempt in the first place; I give you guys more
> credit than that), I would have thought it obvious that my reply was
> intended in a joking manner; NOT as serious commentary about either the
> profession or safety gear in general. And knowing how most of my
> friends in that profession find that humor is sometimes the best release
> for the stress of having to deal with the carnage left over every time
> Joe Q. Public finds some new and novel method of testing Darwinism in
> practice, I have picked up their habits of dealing with the matter with
> the same dark sense of humor when discussing it with them. So THAT'S
> what reminded me of the remark in the first place.
> And with all that said and explained, if I offended you and anyone else
> on the list, I DO apologize. That was NOT my intention, as it wasn't
> meant to be taken as anything but a humorous response. And I am quite
> aware of the depth of study that goes into that profession, as I helped
> one of my closest friends from High School who had dropped out to first
> study for his GED and pass it, then also to go on to the UAB program for
> his EMT and eventually his Paramedic ratings. I even volunteered to use
> my own field of expertise (an MBA in finance) to help a local county
> rescue squad with some of their budget issues, because I wanted to show
> a little appreciation for what they do for their community.
> So if you want to get into a SERIOUS discussion about my views of
> Paramedics, fine. I think they are underpaid as a rule for the risks
> they take, I think they are finding the job even tougher as many of in
> mangement seek to cut costs by running two EMT-IVs (at lower pay rates)
> and auto-difibulators, and I think that this is going to hurt the rest
> of us in the long run, as it limits the options of treatments on-scene
> if transport is delayed. I also think that anybody who can deal with
> bouncing between the highs of saving a patient to the lows of watching
> others die in front of them every day, and not let it get to them,
> deserves both my respect, and an escape valve to deal with the stress-
> like the aforementioned dark sense of humor. Personally, I doubt I
> could ever do that job without one myself.
> So anyway, as I said, I do apologize for offending you and anyone else.
> Jay Travis
> -Who still has his Class "F" endorsement on his TDL from 1994, aquired
> for a job as none other than as- you guessed it- an Ambulance Driver,
> until the job (a private service) chose to hire only EMTs. Go figure,
> Henry J. Fackovec wrote:
> >Dear "Jay"
> >
> >That's it, I am sick of the garbage that is spread here.
> >
> >
> >
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