Zygomaticotemporal...pertaining to the zygomatic and temporal bones of the face. I named this piece thus, not because I plan to discuss anatomy, but simply because I know what that word means. I know what a lot of medical terms mean because I went to college and studied Anatomy and Physiology, Pharmacology, Cardiology...the list goes on. No, I am not a doctor. I'm not even a nurse. I am a Paramedic and there are lingering misperceptions about just what we do and do not know, what we can and can not do. I aim to clear that up.
If you know the history of EMS it isn't hard to see why the level of education and skill required for this profession isn't common knowlege. This is a relatively new service industry. I am 53 and in my lifetime, ambulance services have gone from being run by funeral homes to the sophisticated agencies they are today. As late as the early 1960's, if someone had an emergency, they would call the operator and she in turn would contact the local mortuary who would send an ambulance (basically a hearse with a white coat of paint) staffed by a couple of dudes with absolutely no medical training. Talk about your conflict of interest. What is more lucrative, a ride to a hospital, or a funeral...HMMM?
In the mid-60's things began to change. Congress enacted a law requiring a single number that would connect citizens directly to whatever emergency services were available, and on February 16, 1968, in Haleyville, Alabama, the first 911 call was placed. By the early 1970's, the Emergency Medical Technician course had been established and in less than 50 years, the industry has grown into a vital link in the chain of patient care. I have a degree in Emergency Medical Science. I took the same science and medical classes as the RN students. The course load did differ in some ways. When the nurses were taking bottle washing and butt wiping, I was taking car cutting and butt whipping, but that's a whole other blog topic.
Unfortunately, respect and especially compensation have not kept up with the growth in the industry. I have been asked if we have oxygen, been called a "stretcher bearer" by a nurse, and have been ordered to "just take me to the hospital where I can get some help". I was transporting a homeless man once who looked a me and stated, "You're a loser 'cause you're nothing but an ambulance driver"...a HOMELESS MAN!
In spite of these short comings, I love my profession. I have worked in EMS for over a quarter of a century, all on the front lines and I wouldn't trade my life with anyone. I am looking forward to sharing some of my experiences, from Z to A with folks and can't wait to read about the lives of others. There is one question that I am sure everyone reading this wants to ask. I have been asked it hundreds of times in my career, so I'll go ahead and answer it...Yes, I drive the truck!