Be well. Practice big medicine.

Newman | The Positive Paramedic Project #38 Pay it forward

A nugget of EMS organizational wisdom every day. #38 Pay it forward.

I’ve got a box full of stuff that I’ll proudly display one day when I’m finally okay with having a ‘I love me’ wall.

There’s a couple of letters from the Prime Minister of Canada, a letter from the American Ambassador, a picture with Dr. Condoleezza Rice, and my MLK Legacy Award.

I keep my favourite letter on the top of the stack. It really deserves to be properly framed but the truth is, I still like to take it out every now and again to remind me how wonderful it can be to give someone an unexpected chance to achieve one of their own dreams.

It’s handwritten in pencil.

June 5, 1996

Hi Chief,

I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you very much for letting me take the EMT courses.

You can be sure that if I pass the courses I am going to work very very hard.

I’m going to make you proud to have me on your EMS team.

Thank you very very much.

Your truly…

The letter was written by a young woman with developmental delay challenges who desperately wanted to become part of our team. The idea of her actually becoming an EMT seemed so intangible, so impossible to grasp that we didn’t know how to handle the request.

In the end, we decided to pay it forward and see where the experience took all of us.

The young woman did not become a regular medic however she attended classes, performed admirably during scenario-driven practical sessions and completed shifts as a third member of the team.

She would learn and we would learn that sometimes the impossible can transform into something improbable yet still achievable. I’m proud that we decided on the path of inconvenience rather than hide behind a tired protocol that was never designed with real human beings in mind.

Of all the souvenirs I collected in the course of my career, I treasure that letter for it reminds me of the heart and soul in every individual who answers the call of EMS.

Be well. Practice big medicine.



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