Note to farkles: I owned a scanner long before I became a paramedic. I listened to the police and fire departments do their work, and I enjoyed having a first-person sense of what was happening in the community. I learned a lot about law enforcement and emergency services, and I considered myself a supporter of all emergency services.

I also knew where the line is. I never put flashing lights in my personal vehicle. I didn't wear uniform-like apparel in the hopes that people would confuse me with an emergency responder. I didn't purchase badges to make myself look official, I didn't rush to scenes of accidents, fires, or crime scenes for ANY reason. When the opportunity presented itself and I was ready, I went to school to become an EMT. I had the criminal background checks, drugs tests, and once licensed, made sure my activities and personal behavior stayed within both LEGAL and ETHICAL boundaries. I continued my education to become a firefighter, engineer, paramedic, and critical care paramedic.

Today, I avoid even the appearance of impropriety to maintain and protect the public trust which is hard-earned, and easily shattered. I am subject to random drug tests, criminal background checks, and must report to the state ANY adverse interaction with law enforcement including traffic citations. I have to act with integrity, on and off duty. I have to constantly consider my actions, and those of my fellow responders, and I try to politely remind them of their lapses, and ask them to remind me of mine.

When you dress and act like an official first responder, even though you are not one, you debase and devalue what we do. You disrespect every person in uniform who did it the right way. You demean the sacrifices that first responders and their families make, and you disrespect the risks we willingly take to help others. Everything you touch becomes tainted with the lack of ethics and disrespect for what we do. Your attempts to "help" us in our work is not welcome, and it is an insult to first responders and their families.

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