At a glance it may be difficult to see how the life of a Paramedic is one of privilege. Between shift-work, long hours, high stress workspaces, ever changing practice expectations, and remuneration vs. cost of living concerns; being a Paramedic isn’t exactly an occupation that will land you on “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous.” Statistics regarding work related stress injuries for paramedics are frightening, with suicide data in particular a major cause for concern. Even those of us who retire “healthy” are more likely to suffer from heart disease than the general public. One might ask “What is this Privilege you speak of?”
A paramedic’s greatest privilege is trust. Paramedics (alongside firefighters, nurses, and physicians) consistently rank highly as one of the most trusted occupations in Canada. In Australia Paramedics are the most trusted occupation a number of years over. On what may be the worst day of a patient’s entire life; not only do they allow paramedics into their homes, they specifically ask paramedics to lead them through whatever crisis has occurred. Patient’s invite a complete stranger (a paramedic) to take control of their personal crisis out of trust and respect for that strangers occupation alone. This public trust extends through all levels of paramedicine, ranging from the Primary Care Paramedic responding to a simple diabetic call to the Critical Care Paramedic initiating ICU care on behalf of a rural sending facility.
With the consistent high degree of trust placed upon paramedics by both the public & other health professionals, it seems unfathomable that paramedics would fail to trust themselves; yet evidence would suggest paramedics do not trust themselves (at least in Canada that is). If paramedics trusted their own judgement as completely as the public seems to, British Columbia would have its own College of Paramedics. A profession that trusts itself has the knowledge, confidence, and maturity to regulate itself for the protection of the public. A profession that trusts itself seeks to build upon the body of knowledge that makes it a unique entity through research and education.
It’s time Paramedicine learned to trust itself. It’s time Paramedics extended their profession the same privilege the public has deemed them worthy of.