Why did we enter this profession? Why did we choose to be public servants? No matter the reason, we have a duty to uphold and we have an oath to fulfill. Toss away all of that and we have a moral and ethical duty to act and treat. There is no doubt we are seeing more and more burn out from the constant barrage of crap we deal with. However, in no way does that give us the right not to act, not to assess, and not to treat. Somewhere down the line we have become so bitter, so salty, and so tired many find it easy to just pass judgment on another without even the common decency of a basic assessment.
The tragedy of Tyre Nichols should be a wake up call to all of us. Today, Memphis Fire Department announced the firing of two EMT's and a Lieutenant for failure to perform their duty. It could have been any of us; we have all been there. 911 beckons again, a "patient evaluation" requested by PD. We roll our eyes, grunt, and head out. Most of the time we build a pre-conceived idea of what we will find. I have done it. We all have. Except this time, it wasn't the normal, it was a patient in dire need, a patient dying. Two of the firefighters didn't even exit the apparatus, they sent the other two to evaluate. The company officer remained in the apparatus. For much of the "on-scene time" Nichols is left unattended, going as long as 7 minutes without even being attended to. They violated multiple SOP's. More so, they violated the basic rights of a patient, the rights of a human. I can't imagine losing my long term investment in this career over something that should have taken 5-10 minutes. I can't imagine going to sleep each night knowing my negligence may have caused another to perish. When we take on this role we take on a ton of responsibility. We take on accountability, dedication, and determination to stop death at all cost. However, the moral compass that we started with has become distorted for so many. Tyre Nichols deserved EMT's that care, EMT's that have empathy, and EMT's that do their job!
Let this be a reminder that each call deserves to be treated as a life or death situation. Are most life or death? No, but it's not up to us to determine that without a proper assessment and treatment. If you find yourself in a position where your saltiness affects your patient care, do us all a favor, leave the profession. Tyre deserved better, and so does your next patient. Let us learn from this: every patient deserves our best, every patient deserves our dedication, and every patient deserves to be fought for. Next time, don't let it be you.
Mark T Sullivan