Freedom of Speech….

December 13, 2006

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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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