What's your (EMS) story?
My EMS story maybe a little more unconventional than most as I didn’t get into the profession until I was 22. Growing up, EMS or medicine in general never even crossed my mind. I was pushed into the traditional college route right out of high school, going for a degree that I wasn’t truly passionate about. It wasn’t until three years later I finally made the decision to forgo my college career, and to pursue my dream job of becoming a firefighter. Knowing that I would need my EMT before and/or after the fire academy I decided I would enroll into a summer EMT program. After obtaining my EMT license I jumped into the fire academy and started to volunteer with my local EMS agency in Karnes County. It was here where I got my first real taste of this crazy world we call EMS. Upon graduating with my TCFP I started looking for employment as a firefighter/EMT. After landing my first job as a professional firefighter I could not shake the feeling I got about pre-hospital medicine. Knowing I had more to offer I quickly enrolled into paramedic school. Easily one of the best decisions I ever made! After graduating paramedic school my passion for medicine grew. I needed more! So, I started studying critical care and after two years got board certified with my FP-C. During this time my local volunteer agency in Karnes Co. became a fully paid department. Having the opportunity to serve the county I grew up in meant the world to me. So, I decided to hang up my bunker gear and head back home. Once back home I had the privilege to assist Karnes Co. EMS leaders in growing our department but still felt like something was missing. Up until this point I had been very goal oriented like most EMS providers. My major focus was on my success as a pre-hospital professional. Then one day I realized it’s not about me. I ditched the me attitude for a we attitude and the goal-oriented mindset for a growth-oriented mindset. With this epiphany I knew I had some major growing to do and that growth would not happen if I wasn’t willing to put myself in an uncomfortable situation. So, after only two years back home I left Karnes Co. EMS on a mission. I was going to grow myself not only as a clinician but as a leader with the hopes of bringing back what I learned to Karnes Co. EMS one day. My growth journey led me to work with one of the largest domestic air medical companies in the US. It was through this experience where I got my first leadership opportunity. Still unsure to this day why I was chosen to be a base supervisor when there were people way more qualified than I but regardless I will forever be grateful for that opportunity. In the second part of my growth journey I found myself called to cross party lines and work inside of a small rural community hospital alongside our nursing colleagues. It is here where I learned the importance of seeing value in others. Senior leadership in the hospital saw value in me and allowed me to play an integral role in pioneering their Critical Care Paramedic Program in the Emergency Department. We have board certified critical care paramedics working at their full scope of practice alongside their nursing counterparts. No silos, no sandboxes, just one awesome high- performance team! And we are just getting started. After two years on this personal growth journey I had the opportunity to come back to Karnes County EMS to and some newly forming leadership roles. These roles would allow us to not only grow the department but add value to people and lead our team in ways we were unable to before. I know I said my EMS story might be a little more unconventional than most but come to think of it I don’t think it’s really a story at all. Typically, stories have a beginning, middle, and end. However, if this is my EMS story it’s still being written!
What’s your greatest EMS related interest?
While most people would say training, education, or something along those lines, my greatest EMS related interest is leadership. Over the last 3-4 years the topic of leadership has become somewhat of an obsession of mine. When you talk about leadership, especially in EMS most people associate the term with a roll, title, or rank one holds but in actuality that can’t be further from the truth. Leadership is an influence and everyone from the most senior team member to the newest rookie has influence. They just might not know it, or if they do know it they might be using it poorly or for the wrong reasons. When it comes to leadership in EMS we typically don’t do a very good job of setting our folks up for success. Usually it goes something like this. You’re really good at your job so we promote you. Now you’re in charge of leading the people who do the job you use to do. But, we don’t train, teach, or even give you the resources to lead this new team. Leadership is a skill just like anything else. You are not born a leader, it is something that is learned. We have to remember that medicine is a team sport not an individual one. This profession is not about us; it’s about the people and communities we serve.
Why did you join ATEMSP?
There is an old African proverb that states “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far go together”. As I eluded to earlier this profession is not an individual sport. We have shared values that bring us together for a common mission. A mission to better represent the EMS profession as a whole in all that it is and all that it can be. I read somewhere that you can’t build a transformational process based upon what you don’t like. It’s one thing to be against something but it’s another to be for something. Now, that can be transformational and that is what I think this organization is about. That is why I joined ATEMSP.