Freedom of Speech….

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I,ve recently read xfiles blog http://journals.aol.co.uk/thexfileman/TheParamedicsDiary/ and was dismayed to hear that he has been getting grief off colleagues at work. I know that xfiles does not name patients, crews, locations or anything that might breech confidentiality.

If he has ruffled a few feathers then perhaps it is because those who feel agrieved have read his posts and recognised themselves. I dont think xfiles has defamed anyone and he has not gone out of his way to be confrontational.

So here lies the rub…like myself, like many others, xfiles has started his blog as a diary of sorts, a sounding board, a scrap book , a comment on our times. I have found it to be informative, theraputic at times and it has opened up a new world to me full of like minded people, not like minded people, funny people, sad people and every other type of person. So why have some people taken offence at xfiles blogging?

I can only put forward my opinions on why this is. Its not jealousy, its not vindictiveness, its not from a feeling of isolation, its not some form of paranoia seeing an underlying conspiracy. Its this….bullying!

When I first joined the Ambulance Service I was expecting to join people who were level headed and unbiased. And for the most part they were, and still are. But it soon became apparent that there was a culture within. This culture revolved around sexism, racism and any other “ism” you can think of. (You do need to bear in mind that in the service we do tend to use “dark humour” which is a survival instinct. Its to what degree does this affect your personality, your perceptions of others and your interactions with the outside world.)

A common theme within the inner culture was to never stand out, never try to better yourself. I was once almost sent to Coventry because I paid for myself to go on a course. A crime most heinous in the eyes of the old sweats of the inner clique. When I confronted the main antagonist of my seclusion he said that they dont like people “putting their head above the parapet!”. Over the years I have seen people ridiculed at every turn for showing keeness and/or enthusiasm and not allowing themselves to be lowered to the levels of the inner clique.

This was allowed to go on as it was seen that the inner clique were “good lads, a bit of a laugh, always up for a pint!”. I know that this applies mainly to the larger stations as the rural stations had a different mindset. What should be seen as friendly rivalry between crews/stations can turn into something more insidious. What large station does not say “we are the busiest!” and the smaller rural stations say “but we have a longer run in time to A/E so we do more with the patient!”.

Thats the usual banter up and down the country in every service. Its when people turn on each other without realising that they are being bullies thats the problem. Things that get said in the Ambulance Service would probaly get you the sack in other professions. If the Ambulance Service is not careful we will be going on “Diversity” courses the same as the Police do now.

I just find it abhorrent that just because someone blogs about something that someone else disagrees with they should be subjected to vilification or abuse. You, I, we have the right to be heard and it is a basic tenet of “Freedom of Speech!”. Before anyone says that the inner clique have the right to freedom of speech, they have, but it is not socially acceptable to be ignorant and definately not acceptable to bully.

I hasten to add that 99% of people in the Ambulance Service are well balanced individuals and I cant think of a better job to be in. Like everything nowadays its the few that spoil it for the rest!!

Rant over.

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5 Responses to Freedom of Speech….

  1. ecparamedic says:

    I’m with you 100% on that.

    SD ;-)

  2. I totally agree. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and while I might disagree with it, I will respect it if they can back their opinion up with a decent, well-thought-out argument.
    The reason people (usually the jaded old hands) don’t like people who stand out from the crowd and try to better themselves is because it makes you show them up. As soon as someone moves forwards, the questions begin.
    I see it every day in my workplace, which is not alarmingly dissimilar to your set-up, and it makes me very sad. But you are winning, I promise you.
    Its just that 1% that spoil things for everyone else. And it will always be the small minority who do. There are arseholes in every profession. xx

  3. Kingmagic says:

    We sometimes have the situation where new techs come to a large station and think that they have to swagger about and pretend to not like patients and that everything in the job is shit and that they work at the coalface all the time as this is the picture they see at times.
    If they try and show some compassion towards a patient then they can be labelled as soft. Its sometimes a fine line between being pragmatic and being nasty about everything. This is where some people go wrong and there is no one to point it out to them, unless they end up being complained about by a patient and then they plead total innocence. Which I suppose some are because they are too thick to realise that they are acting like cavemen.

  4. nicenurse says:

    Kingmagic,

    I think you are absolutely right when you say these people are bullies. If the principle that all bullies are cowards though, what are these people cowering from?

    These people are hiding their own insecurities by shooting down everyone ‘who puts their head above the parapet’. Why are they insecure? Because, even if they can’t see it themselves, they are scared that people may be moving forward and leaving them in the backwaters.

    Don’t get me wrong, experience counts for more in this job than any other job/career that I have ever known (I’ve done a few!), BUT, paramedics are accountable for their practice now and technicians are not far away from being registered themselves. Gone are the days when we could just ‘load and go’, fingers crossed they make it to A&E. We are responsible for their care on the way and people expect us to know what we are doing, we are leaving more people at home, can we really say we know enough to do that safely? Every time? So to those getting a hard time, keep going, ask your questions, go on your courses, because when the doctor/patient/relative/coroner ask did you do everything you could, based on theory, grounded in evidence, polished by experience; that’s when you’ll be glad you moved yourself forward.

    The biggest thing that struck me when I left the (relative) safety of the hospital and put my nursing uniform away, is that many (certainly not all) people in the ambulance service are reluctant to, nay loathe, asking others for help, opinions or ideas when it comes to managing peoples illnesses/woes. They are terratorial about their skills, their responsibilties and don’t like to see others nudging in on their patch. Take for example, LMA’s (airway which is passed into the throat and looks remarkably like a ladygarden on a stick!), there were paramedics that needed admitting to coronary care when it was decided that technicians could pass an LMA. Why? Because it encroaches in to what makes them special. And its not just the paramedic/technician divide, its just with colleagues, full stop. It is certainly recognised within nursing that we (for I am still registered) are not all the same and that others have different areas of interest, which often leads on to expertise.

    To be honest, some of these people are in danger of being left behind, we all know at least one in each of services; the pace of change is increasing all the time and they may well find themselves on their own, muttering darkly amongst their bitterness.

  5. As a “victim” of some of this (obviously due to my own fault but still..), its hard but in the end all you can do is suck it up and try and judge the situation. I think I’m a reasonably bad culprit when it comes to the enthuasam thing, I used to have spades of it, I still do now but not quite sure what to do with it really.

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