I want to hear what you guys think , But I really believe one of our problems is poor perception by the public.
No I dont think we have a bad reputation. We do have poor perception.
the general public seems to think all we do is show up , throw you on a stretcher and drive quickly to the hospital. that does not require a special person, that would not require any significant training, and worse yet makes many CPR card holding person as well as lifeguards believe they are basically paramedics. It also makes scenes even more dangerous when the family can't understand why we are staying on scene.
worse yet I believe this is our fault as profession. with the exception of the show Emergency we have did little to nothing on a national level to market or even bragg to the public about all that we do.
long story short, I believe that many of our problems would be gone if the public understood what we do.
We are most often our own worst enemies
Fortunately for most people when they call 911 it is one of their first encounters with a paramedic or EMT. Oftentimes they are scared and don't know what is happening. Things they are experiencing are new to them where it is routine to us. When I am with a patient I try to explain what I am doing and why I am doing it. I have found this strengthens their trust and alleviates many of their fears. At the agency I work, we are fortunate to have a wonderful Chaplain who responds with us on codes, house fires or other exceptionally traumatic calls. He is so good with the families and he will explain to the family everything we are doing to the patient. This is so helpful during a time when I need to focus 100% on the patient.
I think you are correct, as a whole society does not understand everything we do. I am not even sure the receiving RNs in the ED understand everything we do. I have to admit that outside of the fire service and EMS, I don't understand everything other professions do. My dad has been an engineer for over 40 years and I really have no idea what he does and that's okay. What does matter is the patient I will see today. I will make a difference for that person and do everything I can to earn their trust. They don't know how many years I have dedicated to my education but hopefully by the end of the call they will know that I made them feel better.