Since Monday's premiere of NBC's Trauma, the EMS community has been restless with heated remarks and calls for cancellation.
A day before the premiere, JEMS Editor-in-Chief A.J. Heightman
, MPA, EMT-P, posted a review of the series, predicting it was "ripe for 'Do Not Resuscitate' orders."
As a nationally recognized MCI expert, Heightman objected in particular to the multi-vehicle car-versus-gasoline truck collision, which led to what he called "the most unethical EMS behavior you'll ever see."
Heightman summarized his reaction with a plea to the characters of the beloved "Emergency!" series -- "Johnny and Roy, please don't watch this show. Stop by my house, and we'll do shots of Ipecac instead."
In the past few days, Heightman's article has received numerous comments and attracted several thousand extra hits to JEMS.com.
One of the most notable comments was posted by Mike Whooley, paramedic captain for San Francisco Fire Department EMS. He wrote that Jeff Covitz, the show's medical advisor, is one of his paramedics and that he vouches for Covitz's unsuccessful fight with the writers. Whooley noted, "We (SFFD EMS) all pretty much knew it was going to be bad based on the almost daily reports we were getting from own standby crews."
However, Whooley also seems to think we're all being too hard on Hollywood, adding, "It's a TV show and any relationship to reality is tangential at best."
Since Heightman's review, others have been sharing their reactions via JEMS Connect
and the JEMS Facebook fan page
. These social forums have documented the evolution of responses: In May, users seemed excited by the trailer, but immediately after the premiere aired the comments took on a predominantly negative tone.
Even on NBC's message board
for the show, the most popular discussion thread is dedicated to complaints.
On JEMS.com, one user commented that "We need to complain to the network -- and their advertisers. Money is the only language Hollywood comprehends."
And that's exactly what some EMS organizations are doing.
As chair of the EMS Section for the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and columnist for JEMS, Gary Ludwig today sent a letter
to Chairman of NBC Universal Television Entertainment Jeff Gaspin, expressing the organization's "deep and sincere displeasure" with the show. Ludwig cited many of the concerns echoing across social networks and JEMS.com, including the portrayal of EMS professionals engaging in sexual acts while on duty and condoning medical procedures outside the standard of care.
"The show is an injustice to the many professionals who work in emergency medical services and dedicate themselves to the preservation of life each and every day in the United States," Ludwig wrote.
In the letter, the IAFC EMS Section offered its expertise to guide future episodes. But like others who have been vocal since Monday's premiere, Ludwig called for the show's cancellation if it cannot be modified to accurately portray EMS.
The National Association of EMTs (NAEMT) has also taken action. According to its Web site, many members called and e-mailed their feedback to the association, and in response, NAEMT President Patrick Moore communicated with Gaspin
to further impress upon the network the concerns of the 800,000 EMS professionals across the country. NAEMT offered its advisory services as well.
It seems many EMTs and paramedics were willing to give this show a chance -- even hoped it would be a success -- but are now left feeling once again insulted by the entertainment industry.
At least the public seems to be on our side: The ratings signaled an "implosion," according to TV by the Numbers