Keynote presentations are the movie trailers of EMS.
They show the good, the bad, the ugly. They can show us the inspiring, the terrifying, and the catch you by the heart and throat moments.
Day after day emergency personnel the world over go to work, and take it one call at a time. Gear is checked, trucks are maintained, calls are answered – cat in a tree, MVA, nervous new mom, you name it. They range from mundane to exciting to frustrating to “You seriously called us for this?”
It’s easy to get a little jaded by the job. We dial down the adrenaline as we get used to it all. We joke about things non-EMS personnel don’t see the humor in.
But wasn’t that early enthusiasm a good thing? Once, we all got really, heart pounding-ly excited by the dispatch and by the idea that this was the big one! And sometimes, waking that slumbering bear of youthful enthusiasm that lies deep in our hearts can renew our excitement for the job, and remind us why we continue to do what we do. The old joke is that it isn’t for the money. That’s right, it’s not. Then what’s it for? Like most things that people do when it’s not for the money, it’s for the passion. And poking the bear with a good keynote speech to remind us of that can be good for us. More than that, it can be good for our partners, our loved ones, and our patients too.
So we’re here at the Texas EMS Conference and the keynote presentation boasts a huge room filled with EMS personnel, large screens so that we can all see, even from the far back near where the free coffee is.
This keynote is from a great presenter (James Odom) who talks about youth, gang issues, and how kids mimic the adults in their lives. More than that, it’s about the passion, the understanding, the distilling and the highlighting of all things amazing about EMS and the people who choose it. He’s pulling our hearts strings with a video (Children See), with comedy (an MOB tattoo means Member of Blood, not Mama’s Only Boy, as one mom had been led to believe), with the sincerely asked question: “How did THAT make you feel?” The collective intake of breath in the room let us all know that yes, it did make us all feel the same way. It made us feel, does it matter what? No, it made us feel something, and good for us. Literally.
We are a gang of our own in EMS. We have an initiation to get in, we wear our own colors, we try not to show fear, we back up our own, we answer to the hierarchy of the group, and we have to face the consequences when we let our own down. And, we get a little jaded and a little desensitized too. But what don’t we have? We don’t have specific dates or rituals to remember those we’ve lost, to celebrate who we are as a group. Or do we?
Maybe conferences where we sit in the same locking chairs and feel the same moment of “Yes, we are cool! We do amazing things! No wonder we keep doing this! Yay us!” are one of the things we do have, and should embrace.
Spending an hour or an hour and a half in Ballroom D letting a talented public speaker regal us with videos and stories, photos set to music, insider jokes and tear jerking stories, all about what it is that we do, day after day, is a treat we deserve to enjoy. We should get some popcorn (or free coffee), sit back and enjoy.
Let the movie trailer for “That’s Us!” wash over us, inspire us, open our hearts a little underneath that thick skin, and remind of why we started, why we stay, and how truly important we are in what we do. Because, really, yay us. Sincerely and honestly, with a swell of moving music behind it, yay us.