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Talkin’ ‘Bout My Geeeenerashunnnn*

Our EMS Newbie Essay Contest winner makes her initial foray into the blogosphere, and picks none other a luminary to butt heads with than TOTWTYTR.

After my buddy essentially told the 20-something EMS generation to get the hell off his lawn, one of its newest members launched an impassioned defense of her peers:

Frankly, I am sick of hearing about what a shallow, vapid, vain, inconsiderate person I am—especially from people who do not yet know me. And I can be certain that the vast majority of my generation feels the same.

That being said, I can certainly appreciate the kids who serve as living proof for your judgment. Just look at the TV show “Jersey Shore.” I’d go in depth about this, but—and let’s be honest with each other for a minute—I really don’t have to.  It’s self-explanatory.

Read the whole thing, as it were.

MK, about fifteen years ago, as a fairly new medic with only a couple of years under my belt, I butted heads with an older, more experienced medic on the various EMS internet forums we both frequented. I was naive and idealistic, and I saw him as bitter, burned out and cynical because he kept raining on all my astute observations about what was wrong with EMS, and my grand ideas on how to fix it.

That medic was TOTWTYTR.

It took me a few years to realize he wasn't burned out at all. In fact, he was every bit as passionate about the profession as I was, and all those grand new ideas I'd been espousing weren't new at all; he'd heard them all before, from plenty of idealistic EMTs who came before me and burned out in a few years. The problem he has with your generation isn't their age, its the fact that they're newbies, and 75% of them will be gone in five years or less, replaced with a crop only slightly less fuzzy-cheeked and equally unsuited for this profession.

Now, I find myself being the same wet blanket to a younger generation of EMTs, slightly bemused by their fervor toward EMS 2.0 because all their radical, outside-the-box ideas to transform EMS, I was fervent about 16 years ago.

Still am, when it comes down to it, and so is TOTWTYTR. We just have the perspective to realize they aren't new ideas.

Passion is what fuels rookies, and that's a good thing. But what's going to earn the respect of the people who came before you is whether you can sustain that passion. As Robert Duvall told Sean Penn in Colors:

"There's two bulls standing on top of a mountain. The younger one says to the older one, 'Hey Pop, let's say we run down there and fuck one of them cows'. The older one says, 'No, Son. Lets walk down and fuck 'em all'."

Wise man, that Robert Duvall.

Anyhoo, y'all bookmark Probie to Practitioner as one of your daily reads, and head on over to welcome MK to the EMS blogosphere. The kid's got talent, and passion aplenty. The former can make her a good EMT, and the latter can make her a great one.

If she can sustain it.




* MK, if you don't recognize the line on the post title, ask your mom to explain The Who to you. They were, like, this huge rock band, like, before you were born. ;)


Comments - Add Yours

  • Anderson Ryan

    After reading both of your posts, I have a question for the “older generation.”  How does writing off the “younger” genereation, or the newbies as, the lazy, or shallow or vain helping the EMS community?  I hear so much that we need to hold strong together so we can start getting respect from the community, but how are they supposed to respect us when the veterans don’t even respect the newbies?  I may not be as young as MK is but I am a new EMT, and although I don’t get upset by these posts tearing into the new generation, I do get disheartened to see that there is no veteran blogger giving the newbies encouragement.  I understand that newbies aren’t bringing new ideas, but it is the same way in every type of work.  I work as a chemist and the ideas that the new people bring in to try to help, are the same ones that we brought up when we started.  The difference is that when these people bring ideas up, we discuss how that would change or not change anything and encourage more ideas, rather than telling them to shut up, it has already been said.  I’d really like to see the veteran generation try to encourage a little more and maybe, just maybe then, more newbies would stick around long enough to become the grizzled veterans you have become.  I do look up to the veterans I know in the business, but not the ones that put down the newbies.  Keep writing great posts, and great work on the cancer awareness and fundraising.

    • Sabra Morse

      Please keep in mind I’m coming at this from an outsider’s perspective, so there may well be some subtext I’m missing, but I didn’t take TOTWTYTR’s post (which  I read the same day it was posted) as a blanket dismissal of an entire generation, but rather some well-deserved venting against a certain sort of newb. There’s a big difference between “Why don’t we do things this way?” & “If you’d just listen to me, things would be so much better!”

      As to the issue of offering newbs encouragement…Have you, y’know, read this blog? AD is actually a steady source of encouragement for the “new” generation. Dude doesn’t regularly work with fresh-minted EMTs so he can feed his ego.

      • Anderson Ryan

        Sabra, I read AD’s blog every time he posts.  I’m not telling him to give encouragement, I’m asking all veterans to try to do this more.  As for TOTWTYTR’s post, the title turn me off to it right away.  “I HATE the younger generation”.  How is that not dismissing an entire generation?  I’m not even part of the generation he is talking about and it still made me disappointed to read.  Much of the post was directed at a specific person, but he started the post by blanketing that statement across an entire generation.  For a profession that is struggling to gain respect from the public, I feel these kind of posts do us no good.  We need to band together.  If you want to vent about somebody, there are better ways to do it, not by telling the world that the new generation of EMT’s are lazy.  How does a city councilperson take that?  Do they want to spend more money in a budget that is already stretched on somebody who is lazy?  The whole post was just bad for the EMS community in general.  Really, both posts were.

        • Anonymous

          Like I said, he was having a Mr. Mitchell Moment. ;)

          Ambulance Driver


          • Anderson Ryan

            I do understand that people can have their moments.  I just really hate when people overgeneralize.  The post seemed that way to me.   Keep up the great posts AD, I really do enjoy your blog.  I do have a question for you:  What do you think could be done to help recruit the right people into EMS?  What types of recruitment do you think would bring in the right people?  We are trying to get more people and I am wondering if you have any ideas.

          • Anonymous

            First of all, we need more hand holders and less adrenaline junkies. We need to stop playing up the excitement and life-saving, which is just a very small part of what we do.

            Ambulance Driver


      • Mini Medic


        I’m a medic in my mid-twenties, and as I read TOTWTYTR’s post, I didn’t get all “up in a huff” about it. I actually thought, “Hm, I should take note of this and make sure I’m not doing any of this, because I don’t want to look like a $h!tbag in front of my (mostly) older and wiser superiors. (My husband’s term, and he’s younger than I am.) If you read his blog consistently, he does enjoy working with students who have a desire to learn and are hardworking.

        I’ve met the guys who put down the newbies and any other ideas consistently…TOTWTYTR isn’t one of them, as I’ve asked for advice from him once or twice, and even asked to borrow his fossilized clue bat. (True story.) He was just bitching about a lazy member that happens to be younger, and he’s entitled to his own opinion on his own blog!

    • Anonymous

      Who says no one is giving her encouragement? I just sent a bunch of people her way to welcome her to the blogosphere, and so have half a dozen other established “old guy” bloggers.
      Like I said in the post, it’s not the the youth that the “old guys” have a problem with, it’s the personality traits that make them a poor fit for EMS. And since the turnover rate is so high, all you see year after year is 75% of the new crop of rookies that display those personality traits. It just so happens that most rookies are young, so people mistakenly believe it’s a generational thing.

      Ambulance Driver


  • Joe Paczkowski

    What band am I supposed to ask my Mom about?

    However, how much worse could it be if there wasn’t at least a small crop thinking they could bring peace to the Middle East… errr… advance EMS. Especially if this crop can return to paramedic school someday and start to plant the seeds of revolution in the minds of their more apathetic classmates. Similarly, why is 75% of them gone in 5 years (it can’t all be pay), where are they going, and more importantly, how much does that cost employers in turnover? I once calculated that my first company spent something around $600 per EMT in orientation and field training before they would put the employee on an ambulance with just a partner (FTO time was 3rd rider). If we can fix what is driving people out of the field, then how much money would we have to fix other problems?

    • Anonymous

      My personal opinion is that the turnover rate is so high and the career expectancy so short because we’re recruiting the wrong people, for the wrong reasons, and graduating them with the wrong perception of what EMS is and should be.
      That, and the low pay, but that’s more of a reimbursement thing beyond our direct control.

      Ambulance Driver


  • Joe Allen

    For MK: the song AD is referencing was a “B” side to one of the CSI theme songs.

    Now, somebody explain to her how music used to have “sides”. I’m too old, it’s time for my nap.

    • MK

      Now now, everyone, I know who The Who are! I am not some uncultured swine off the streets! ;)

      And, I’ll do you one better. My car has a cassette player in it, and sometimes I enjoy listening to my Eagles’ “Desperado” tape on my long drives to school. :) And, what’s more, on school breaks, some friends and I hang out in a buddy’s garage. We play shuffleboard, darts, and pool, all while listening to VINYL! Yes!

      Because we’re just *that* cool.

  • Michelle C.

    I can understand why MK felt moved to respond to that post. Calling an entire generation lazy and feckless is like trying to shoot a single guy in a crowd with buckshot at 60 yards– innocent bystanders are going to get hurt. If you have issues with certain people– even a certain few people– then address the post to them. Overgeneralizing is unfair to those who do work hard and do their job well. :