Original video was shot by Jerry McCrea of "The Star Ledger".
A recent shooting of two people in Boonton, NJ as they walked with their three year-old son has left this Morris County town, and its emergency responders, reeling. The event triggered the obligatory news coverage including the video linked above above.
A fellow paramedic called my attention to the video he posted on his Facebook page. He was deeply disturbed by the video. There were already over 25 pretty angry responses insulting, shaming and blaming the EMT for perhaps a bit more than she could possibly be responsible for. There were insults to her speech patterns, calls to remove her certification, eliminate her from the field and some other unsavory comments too. Typical responses from a group of otherwise honorable people who are tired of being misrepresented in the media and on TV - especially by (clearing my throat) "one of our own."
I understood where everyone was coming from as the video delivers yet another (as if we needed it) black eye to the emergency medical services as the casual observer can easily assume she is an accurate representation of EMS as a whole, and we're all cut from the same fabric as this young, amateur provider.
After careful examination of the video, and being as disgusted with it as they were, there was something else glaring at me and it came from the father side of my equation more-so than my paramedic side. My reply to the group is included below.
"I'm with all the veteran and experienced providers here, but am also looking at the part that screams out here -- she's a baby. She's 21 and rides in a low-volume, suburban system. Her admissions were not those of a veteran EMS professional with years of service and dozens of traumatic experiences in her toolbox. She's a kid. A kid who saw something frightening and possibly life-changing for her. As a father of a 21 year-old, I often have to look past or forgive the un / under-developed thoughts of my daughter. I run into the circumstance where I can be "right" or I can be a good and patient father. I try for the latter.
To pin all the woes of volunteerism, a poor education system, lack of oversight and standards, the battle between paid and unpaid and the unsolvable problem of male pattern baldness on the unrefined words of a little girl, I think, may be just a bit extreme.
Sure it was painful to watch and listen to. She should have deferred to someone else with either the experience or the authority to make a representative statement. She probably didn't know what to do, shit or go blind when a camera and mic appeared before her. She lacked the equanimity that a cadre of speech-writers and a room full of teleprompters offer our president (Sorry Shaq, I couldn't help it. You know I'm teasing!)
She's not the worst representative of an incident I've seen on screen. One only has to go back to late December 2010 when the NYC Mayor, Michael Bloomberg (not a 21 year-old) made an ass of himself criticizing and slapping the very EMS professionals that endured the insurmountable task of responding to the blizzard of all blizzards.
As stated, what she said was wrong in so many ways and embarrassing in even more ways, maybe I'm the one who's wrong here, but guys, she's a kid. Nothing more."
To my veteran brothers and sisters I'll summon a Chinese proverb; 'Do not remove a fly from your friend's head with a hatchet.' This EMT, if she remains in the field, is going to have to live her life as being "that girl." The one who fell apart, abandoned a patient, made unqualified statements about the presence or absence of life of the patient etc... Her life, like all of ours, is not summed up in one moment in time. Her life, like ours, should be judged on nothing less than its' entirety.
What say you?