Over the years the face of EMS providers has changed.

We have gone from an all-white male-dominated peer group to a disproportionate mix of both, male and females across many races. In the decades since the formation of modern EMS, we have grown and changed. We have become more accepting of others within our peer group and even formed a brotherhood. We are protective of each other and our profession. Becoming incensed when someone calls us “Ambulance Drivers” yet, after all our changes and the forward thinking within our peer group, we are still willing to put ourselves down. We belittle our own efforts and contributions to the profession. When will EMS providers stop saying, “I am just a basic”?

In today’s society we have decided that everyone matters. Each voice and opinion has a place. Why, in a profession where teamwork and the cohesion of caring is important, do we still discount our own voice? We are educated and experienced. EMS providers matter. We are not “just” basics.

While many EMS providers spend years honing their craft and trying to be the best basic they can possibly be, they still see themselves as just basics. This mentality needs to stop. For the next generation in EMS to really progress in the eyes of the public, we need to change how we identify ourselves. The thought process, in recent years, has been to change the education standards. I agree that education is important but we must first change our self-perception. In everything we do, our own self-perception is important. Not just from the stance of peer identification, but also for our own mental health. If we keep saying, “I am just a…” we put ourselves in one category. We don’t see ourselves as something more or capable of ever growing and becoming better than the lowest level.

Take care of your mental health

This continual self-deprecation leads to poor mental health. It may not be obvious to you or even your fellow EMS providers, but it is there. It seeps into every fiber of your being. You begin to see yourself as less than, thinking your opinion does not matter. Your mental health is important; however, think about the physical health of your patients.

People are fallible. We make mistakes. No matter what we think, EMS providers are not gods. If you keep saying, “Well, he/she are the paramedic and I am ‘just’ a basic so I have no say in what happens,” you are putting your patient in harm’s way. The phrase that defines medicine is, “do no harm.” Your self-perception, mentality, and attitude about who you are can be just as harmful to your patient as it is to you.

So, stop standing in the corner. Stop saying you, as an EMS providers, are “just” a basic. Stop being less than you are. To paraphrase the book The Help, “You is Smart. You is Kind. You is not just a basic.”

Be more than “just a basic.”

About the Author: John Newton is a National Registered Paramedic and EMS Educator with 20 plus years’ experience. He is a Lead Instructor at Distance CME, the founder of Medic Life Tv, and an EMS blogger.