101 Things the Fire Department wishes you knew



Thursday, May 28

Blue collar vs White collar?

At the ever entertaining dinner table discussion a little while back, between false building alarms and rides to the ER for a cough, one of the quieter members made the following comment.

"Paramedics don't belong in the Fire Service because blue collar and white collar never mix well."

I smiled and shrugged it off as the regurgitated ramblings of a medic hater, but it stuck in my mind.
Are paramedics white collar? Does that mean anything?
Of course many systems are looking for ways to cut costs and downgrading fire response from ALS to BLS does save money. The same way stopping your car insurance policy saves you money, but all anyone cares about these days is the bottom line, not the value in a service.

The rift between BLS and ALS is bigger in some places than others, I recognize that, but the more I thought about this guy's comment, the more it started to eat away at me.

Was it good or bad that he thought of me as white collar? I pulled out the entire supply side to test hose too. I geared up and checked the second floor for extension, same as him, but my special ability to handle the 85%+ of our call volume makes me different in his mind.

And I realized this morning, it should.

He should be worried that I can do my job AND his job. He can only do his.

We tried to be one big family over the last 40 years and in most palces it's working OK so far, but I think it will be these budget woes that will drive a giant spike into our systems and have those who fear being eliminated nervous.
We are emerging as a profession trapped within a trade. Can we, as medical providers, remain in this pre-existing delivery model, or will we all be system status before long?

White collar paramedics and blue collar firefighters? I want us all to be successful professionals who go home safe in the morning. I'm not here for glory, or attention or to break stuff with a big tool. I want to make things better from the bottom up.
"What a waste of time, they'll never change anything" I was told this morning while typing up one of the many changes I propose.
"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take," I responded.
"Whatever. Fuckin' Medics, acting all smart."

What do you think? Is this perceived divide alive where you are?

11 comments:

brokenangel said...

The British system may be the way forward for you guys where paramedics and fire staff are two totally different professions that don’t respond as one.

Ie 999 which service do your require
Fire, police or ambulance.

Over here id say the public generally considers fire staff to be of the same levels as ambulance staff and police.

audrey said...

Here, most firefighters are medics so there really isn't a white collar/blue collar rift. If you're just a medic and wish to get on a dept. you'll also need to be a FF in most instances.

If you're just a medic and have no hopes of being on a department there are lots of privates and many of our local ERs hire medics as ER techs.

As for basics here, you're pretty much relegated to a private. Some depts. will hire you on if you're a basic but are also a FF but are also in medic school.

The only real rift here is between the blue canaries and the ems folk and even then it's a mild one.

brendan said...

Similar to Audrey. If you want to work EMS here, you need to be a paid firefighter, "privateer" or a volunteer. And if you are a privateer or a volunteer, you're going to get shit on by the firefighters. And the privateers don't even do 911- they get the worst of both worlds.

The only reason our two genuine municipal third-service agencies are still around is because they're both represented by IAFF. I don't agree with that (I don't see the point in paying dues to an organization that advocates for the exact opposite of what I am)), but it's kept them alive. I shudder to think what might have been were Boston EMS not part of the Boston Patrolman's Association.

John said...

Separating Fire from EMS only complicates matter-there is only so much money to pay everyone, and 1 guy is cheaper than 2. I have yet to see an EMS 3rd service or private that was adequately manned for their call volume. The fewer separate agencies with their own chiefs and bureaucracies the better-for call notification and operational reasons.

brokenangel said...

Britain seems to manage paying both, granted the fire service really do deserve a raise

MotorCop said...

Either way, you've got waaayy comfier chairs than we do at the PD.

AdCy said...

As a paramedic, I definately don't consider myself white-collar. As a firefighter, I don't put myself in a different league. I think the comment was unjust and unfair.
I used to work for a contract company, where I would go to departments and man their ambulances (before I became a firefighter/paramedic). I was treated like absolute shit, and I never understood why. I was there to do a job they didn't want to do, they should have been more accomodating, in my opinion. I wasn't even allowed to eat with them. I vowed never to do that to anyone.

Kevin said...

I work in a system where we have EMT-B's, Cardiac Techs and Paramedics. A cardiac tech is an EMT who can do EKG, IV, Intubation, and administer all of the same drugs a paramedic is allowed to with the exception of 4.
These Cardiac's only have a 200 hour class in addition to their EMT-B which is mostly rote memorization of state protocols.
In the company i work for there is no distinction between cardiacs and medics besides a dollar raise in pay. Also all of the "officers" in our company are Cardiacs. My problem is these cardiac techs routinely question the paramedics on clinical issues and continually harangue and mock the paramedics for clinical decisions made that they do not understand.

Michael Morse said...

Every time I put on my white collar it gets all dirty.

medicblog999 said...

I really have sooooooo much I want to say on this topic but i`ll hold back a little.

My station is a joint one which we
share with the fire service. As stated previously, in the UK the fire and ambulance service are two entirely separate entities. We have always had an element of tension between the two, which tends to be seen when trying to decide on casualty management at the scene of an RTC.
When we moved into our lovely new joint station, it was going to be the start of something new - this was going to be OUR station, all together. However, this is not the way.
Our ambulance management are looking at trying to end all co-locations and move back into our own buildings as we seem to be like oil and water, we just dont mix.

This isnt a reflection on all fire fighters in station though. There are some who I class as friends but there are others who make it very clear that they dont want us in their FIRE STATION.

Ckemtp said...

Happy, you may be playing with fire, so to speak, in doing a fire based EMS thread. Some of my best bar fights have been over that very issue.