Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A word about professionalism

An open letter to my public safety brothers and sisters:

Let me start off by saying that if you got into this for recognition and glory and media coverage, get out NOW. Your job is to protect the public, comfort and treat the sick and injured, and be ready to do it all again tomorrow. Without fanfare. Without a mention on the 11 o' clock news. Many times, without so much as a thank you. If you are in this line of work "to help people" (doesn't everyone say that in their job interview??), then you shouldn't be out there whoring for attention on Facebook or Twitter for just DOING YOUR DAMN JOB.

What is a professional?

A professional takes pride in their ability to perform their job, all aspects of it. If that involves having to hump 60lbs of equipment up the steps of a high rise because the elevators are out, and then carry the equipment and the patient back down, then so be it. A professional keeps their equipment (in this case, their body) in optimal working order so that it can perform under extreme duress. If you don't take care of your equipment, it will fail. Write up an equipment failure report on yourself (do an honest assessment of your physical condition) and get that equipment serviced (get off your ass and get some exercise, put down the pizza and the Stouffer's) so that it will work properly (and you don't have to file a workman's comp claim because you had to perform duties that you damn well know are in your job description).

A professional provides, above all else, comfort. If you do not provide comfort, those other "life-saving" "skills" - of which you're so damned proud - will mean squat to the person in need. Be truthful with yourself: How many lives do you really save per week anyway? Get over yourself. Does it bruise your ego to have to take 2 extra minutes to keep someone warm, or to respect their belongings and property by making every attempt to leave their residence exactly the way you found it (or better)? Do you mean to tell me that Grandma who couldn't pee will be so grateful that you saved her life that she won't notice you couldn't be bothered to wipe your boots before entering her house?

A professional is a team player and recognizes that they need to play nicely with not just their team, but any other team that enters our field. A professional also recognizes that if there truly is a problem that occurs during an incident, that there is a chain of command to follow to resolve that problem. Professionals resolve problems via the chain of command, not by posting snarky and attention-seeking comments in online venues.

A professional realizes that the image they project, even outside of work, reflects not only on them, but their employer and co-workers. A professional looks at the big picture and realizes it's not all about them. That no matter how much one thinks one is hurt or suffering or disrespected or not getting one's due, there is always another out there who is much worse off.

A professional is reflective and grateful that they are in a position to be allowed into others' lives to share what is often their worst day. A professional respects the trust that is inherent in each contact with the public and does not cheapen that trust by calling attention to themselves and their perceived slights and gripes.

So now do you think you're a professional?

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