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Reality and EMS Professionalism

The second episode of “Trauma” – the new prehospital drama – from NBC was on last night. I missed it. I was watching the Packers-Viking game (a much greater disappointment for this Packers fan). I had low expectations for “Trauma,” as I do for most television shows. I don’t think I ever expected fictional dramatic shows to accurately portray any profession. Reality shows can hardly be counted on for reality. I don’t think “Top Chef” is giving me any better idea of what is like to be a real chef than Mel did cooking for Alice and Flo.

What has been most perplexing to me about “Trauma” is the swift and sudden outrage about the show from the field personnel all the way up to highest-ranking leaders in our industry. While I appreciate NAEMT President Patrick Moore and IAFC EMS Section Chair Gary Ludwig writing to NBC, I am confident that NBC is not the cause of professionalism problems in our industry and I am even more confident that NBC will not fix those problems.


As of mid-afternoon on Friday, October 2, 2009, had generated more than 30 comments regarding “Trauma.” More than 50 members commented about the show on the Facebook group. A Facebook group called “EMS Professionals Against the Show ‘Trauma’” has been created, and already has more than 1500 members. As a contributor to, I wish my articles could draw this kind of reaction. Maybe I should aim for something more sensational when I write about pathophysiology, a clinical condition, wellness, or communication skills.

I call on all EMS professionals, of every rank and status, to focus their energy on fixing the real professionalism lapses that exist. Just last week, these headlines appeared at
• Former EMT charged in wife’s death
• 16 firefighters lack proof of EMT training
• Dispatcher claims harassment by fire chief
• North Carolina paramedic charged with embezzlement
• Colorado EMT instructor accused of molesting children
• Woman dies in ambulance crash

These were not incidents conjured up by Hollywood writers. Let’s be outraged about these real incidents. Let’s have a conversation about how it becomes logistically impossible for an EMS professional to ever be accused of molesting a patient. Let’s discuss and form a consensus on a set of safety practices to make sure no more professionals or patients die in an ambulance collision.

Please join me and other EMS professionals in having conversations about real incidents, real patient assessment and treatment techniques, real safety practices, and real methods to improve our profession.


By Greg Friese

Greg Friese, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, is an author, educator, paramedic, and marathon runner.

Greg was the co-host of the award winning EMSEduCast podcast, the only podcast by and for EMS educators. Greg has written for,, Wilderness Medical Associates, JEMS Magazine, and EMS World Magazine, and the NAEMSE Educator Newsletter.