Humility for Breakfast

I was corresponding with a
young Paramedic recently. He basically asked what I thought I knew about EMS. For a
second, I almost flamed him. Then I remembered something that happened when I
was in my twenties. Back then I was sure I knew everything.

It had been a horrible double shift. Not a double shift like
most folks pull. I mean two 24-hour shifts downtown. That was back in the days
when we not only ran all the emergencies and transports; we even picked up the
deceased for the area funeral homes and coroner. I doubt I’d had more than 4
hours sleep in two days. I was in a foul mood after a night of picking up,

Anyway, I decided to lift my spirits by getting a decent
breakfast on the way home. I went into a favorite diner, the kind of place with
“communal” seating. On the other side of the table were two of old guys,
discussing the news. They started talking about the ambulance services in the
city, one commenting on the coverage of overworked Paramedics and long response
times. He was saying something to his friend when I broke in,

“What the heck do you old farts know about EMS anyway”, I
challenged. No response at all. The guy just smiles and pulls out his wallet. Then he takes out a card and slides it over for me to see. It was a
State Paramedic License with the Paramedic #001. I could feel my face getting
real flushed. It was our states first Paramedic, and the owner of a major
ambulance company.

I knew instantly that I had just limited my job
opportunities in town. I mumbled something that should have been an apology,
but wasn’t. Then I hurriedly finished my eggs and shuffled out. It was a good
helping of humility for breakfast. Remembering that morning caused me to
respond to my young challenger with a gentle hand, rather than a torch. I was
once just like he, full of piss and vinegar. There is nothing wrong with being
passionate. But sometimes it helps to remember we have two ears and one mouth
for a reason.


About Dan White

I'm a retired Paramedic and EMS Instructor with 35 years EMS and emergency medical product experience. I love canoes, cars and EMS. I have written a lot about EMS Technology on the Paramedic Blog, the Insights on Innovation column for, on and I can be reached directly at 573-240-0002.
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4 Responses to Humility for Breakfast

  1. Eric says:

    Dan – great commentary of being young and foolish.  I myself am responsible for some similar comments in my days past.  It\’s even worse in a small town, especially if you\’re the new guy.  You never know who\’s who and who\’s married to what family, etc.  Take care & see you in Baltimore!

  2. Nae says:

    Hi Dan ~
    Life is about to slow down for me … I hope … and I may actually have time to be on call again.  This was good food for thought — sure reminds me of how many times I opened mouth and inserted foot when I was younger.
    Thank you for all these wonderful blogs!  You continue to do a service to everyone!!
    God bless you and keep you,
    Nae  :o)

  3. Can't Say says:

    Yes Dan, you were very young and foolish then.  I remember the Star headline:  "I\’ve killed people before." by Dan White, paramedic.  What was that \’77 or 78?
    I can\’t believe I Googled you and found you still a paramedic.  Did you ever grow up?

  4. Yours Truly says:

    I’m on my way from here to there
    And visiting your Space – oh, where?
    Come visit mine, I’d like to share.
    Perhaps you’re someone who will care.
    You’ll be surprised, I do declare.
    You’re more than welcome at my lair.

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