I posted a blog on Firehouse Zen yesterday relating to evolving and changing with emerging issues and reflected on how even if we try to ignore it, the world around us is moving forward. Failing to move on from the past is only going to keep us from surviving.

This morning I was listening to Alan Dershowitz discussing President Obama's new supreme court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, on CNN XM. Something he said struck me and I wrote it down: "People react to ambiguities based on their own background."

I'm not here to discuss President Obama, Dershowitz, or Sotomayor, but to reflect on that statement and how it relates to us in emergency services. For example, have you ever noticed that I use "emergency services" rather than "fire service", or "emergency medical service" when I blog? It's because to me, the jobs are one in the same, mostly because of the systems that I have been involved with my whole life. To me, being a paramedic is as much about my job as is being a firefighter. When someone asks me what I do for a living, I say "firefighter", but it's only because to me, being a firefighter includes being an emergency medical technician.

To many of you, the thought of those two definitions being part of the same is distasteful and even insulting. However, I'm of the belief that being both has served me well and the systems which I have been involved with have done both of these jobs very well for over twenty-five years. I can't imagine doing anything differently.

Likewise, although I come from four generations of career firefighters, at least the last three generations were also volunteers on their days off (I was for a long time, but I am no longer affiliated with a volunteer organization). So to me, career and vollies do the same job, have similar expectations, and the difference is that I get paid in a salary and benefits for doing my job and I got paid in thanks and by being a member of a fun and cohesive group as a volunteer.

When I listen to some of the "us against them" flaming going on here and on other sites, I guess that's why it's hard for me not to be able to stand the anger from either side, in the fire vs. EMS or in career vs. vollie. The other day I was surfing the JEMS Connect site and I was taken aback at some comments someone made about third party EMS being the only way to go and some of the disparaging comments made about the REAL motive for fire departments to get involved in EMS (don't you know, it's all about call volume and money?).

Well, believe it or not, some departments get involved in it because it beats having substandard service being provided by a disinterested third party that isn't vested in the community's values. Furthermore, since the combined fire/EMS concept has been ingrained in my head since the first episode of "Emergency", it's all I have ever known. Likewise, snce my father and grandfather were successful career chief fire officers simultaneous to their being successful volunteer chief fire officers for my entire life, I don't find it conflicting with my beliefs that the two can co-exist happily.

There are a few people in my organization and probably many of you have them in yours too, who are hardcore fire or EMS, and everyone else should just go away. However, those of you who can't envision a life with two divergent points of view should realize that it's just the way things are occuring right now and with money getting tight and calls upon us all to do more with less, if the thought of co-existing with combination departments and/or Fire/EMS is repulsive to you, I'd say you need to open up your mind and look at things from a new angle.

Those who refuse to accept change are only setting themselves up for the ultimate failure; extinction. if you can't get along with others and play nice in the sandbox, it's a good chance you may be tld someday to pick up your toys and go home.

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Comment by Ben Waller on May 27, 2009 at 12:42am
I'm with you, brother. All Hazards really means All Hazards, for both us and the people that need our help.
Comment by Art "ChiefReason" Goodrich on May 26, 2009 at 11:45am
Mick:
So, are you saying that people engaged in emergency services should be tolerant?
Open-minded? Forward-thinking? Civil?
That would mean that you would be willing to TRY it before you decide it wasn't going to work.
That would mean if you criticize, then you are willing to BE criticized.
That we would have the opportunity to try something new that could make us a better department is the whole idea of proclaiming that we are a progressive lot.
It is almost as if all the talk on budget cuts and such are siphoning off the free thinkers; that is, we need to stick with what we know, because we already know that it works. There is no money for "new", including new ideas and new equipment. We can’t afford to buy something that may not work. We need tools that will serve multiple uses.
In my opinion, if you haven’t already expanded your department’s role in your communities, you have missed the opportunity for the time being or at least until the economy improves.
No one will want an increase in taxes to pay for an increase in services for the time being, even if you can show the benefits.
Like you, I saw the benefit of providing additional services years ago. It has been integrated into what we do so seamlessly that it is now a given. We plan for it; we tax for it and there are no questions left as to what we do and don’t do.
The expectations of the community and fire department are in sync.
TCSS.
Art

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