Wednesday, December 14

What would you do when EMTs Won't Help Distressed Woman.mp4

Do things right, or do the right thing?

Medics literally "phone it in" when a pregnant woman experiences a medical emergency while they are on their break.  Sure, they have a right to take their break, but was phoning it in the right thing to do? What would you have done? This investigative piece reports on the incident, then sets up a similar situation and records what people will do when EMTs refuse to help.

Do things right, or do the right thing?

One of my favorite speakers at our Fire Academy Graduations was Fire Chief Mark Martin, Santa Ana Fire Dept (Ret.) Not only was he an eloquent speaker, but he told the best stories. My favorite is about compassion. Compassion is not on the curriculum in any of our Fire Service training manuals. It isn't even listed in the "Desireable" section of the job flyer. But Chief Martin told the following stories about compassion (my apologies to Chief Martin and anyone else who wants to tell me I messed up the stories. This is how I heard it. This is how I tell it.)

As a young medic, he told us about a call he received early one morning, at the end of a very busy shift. It was a man in his 50's that had suffered a stroke, while sitting on the toilet. Not an unusual event. Except this was a very large man, almost 400 lbs. He had fallen from the commode and become wedged between the vanity and the toilet. And yes, there was feces. Quite a bit. After removing the victim and ensuring his medical condition was stable (he was alert, frightened and unable to communicate) They then took the time to clean him up and change his clothes before transporting him. Not in the job description, but the made one of the worst days of this man's life just a bit more tolerable.

He told another story of a local fire crew that responded, again, early in the morning,at the end of a shift, and found a mother of 4 children, all under the age of 4, who had been dead at least 3 days. The children were with the body and unsupervised during that time. The PD informed them that social services would come for the children, but they wouldn't start work for another hour or so. The police officer offered to take the kids to the police station to wait for social services. The Firefighters, realizing the trip to the police station, would not be in the best interest of the kids, chose to stay with the kids and wait for Social Services to show up. They made them breakfast and watched cartoons. Not in the job description, but they made one of the worst days of those children's lives, just a little bit more tolerable.

The last story was about an engine crew that worked for him. They were on their way back to the station early one summer evening and they were stopped at a light. An elderly woman, crossing the street pulling one of those little wire shopping carts, tripped and fell, right in the middle of the crosswalk, and her groceries went everywhere. The firefighters got off the rig and checked her out and picked up her groceries. She was uninjured. They loaded her, and her groceries onto the engine, and gave her a ride home. Chief Martin called the Captain into his office the following day.

"I know what you did last night," he opened with. Then he went on to list the SOPs that were broken and the legal liabilities the Captain had exposed the department to. And then he told him that if it ever happens again, he would hope the Captain would do exactly the same thing. Because sometimes it is more important to the the right thing, rather than to do things right.

Recently, one of the first firefighters I met when I joined the fire service, passed away. I realized how lucky I was to get to know him first. He was one of those guys, that if your wife or your daughter or your mother, were having the worst day of their life, and found themselves in a predicament, naked, and vulnerable, you would hope that Don - or Mark, or someone just like them would show up. Not only would they treat them with kindness and compassion, they would probably give them their jacket. The idea of finishing their coffee break or taking a photo of the victim and posting it for others to see would never have occurred to them.

I like that. We should hire more like them.

What are your Ethics? Try this quiz (without cheating) and find out. (If you don't like the results you can always take it again and change the answers)

Teaching a lesson? Here is a full lesson plan Ethics in the Fire Service complete with media, handouts, activities and more! From CTE Online.

Do you have underlying beliefs about people from other cultures or religions? Physical disabilities or age? Find out with these tests from Harvard.

How do you deal with problems? Are you a "decider"? Find out more about yourself with these Personality quizzes from

What do you really think about people with mental health issues? What are your unconscious or uncontrolled reactions when you think about anxiety, depression, alcohol, eating disorders, or persons with mental illness? Try these quizzes from Harvard and find out!

What about your religious beliefs? Check it out at