Sadly, you see the headlines all the time now; “Firefighter breaks in and spray paints (vandalizes) own fire station” or “Paramedic steals money from patient”, how about “Fire Chief lies about his education.” These are disappointing black-eyes to the fire and emergency services community. What some firefighters and EMTs do not understand is that whatever immoral or illegal act they do represents all of us!
When you are a firefighter the headline will never read “John Smith arrested for embezzlement” it will always read “Firefighter arrested for embezzlement.” The reason this happens is because Firefighters hold a position of public-trust, including volunteers. Nothing makes a headline more juicy than a firefighter breaking that trust. Of course we’re all human and we will slip-up from time to time. It’s important we carry ourselves with the integrity our title inherently possesses.
Likewise, the manner in which some firefighters and EMS agencies provide their services can be sub-par and even unethical. When a loved one hears about how you treated little momma jean. They are going to tell the whole community about how bad that EMS service or fire department operates. Not just you or that one person the whole operation looks horrible. The agency gets slapped with a label that could take years to rid away with due to one action of one individual.
Now what could that label mean? A cut in funding from city or county budgets? A large drop in donations? Decrease in community members willing to support the dept. Once you are labeled a sub-par unprofessional waste of taxpayers dollars, you will then catch flack from fellow agencies. One black eye from one member not doing their job can take a departments image and flush it right down the prevebial shitter.
Now lets take a step away and look at how a person can ruin their image or the departments image. Let us focus on the department erasing there own good image. When you have visitors at the fire station, is it clean? Are the trucks clean? Are you proud to call the station your home away from home? Does your stations roof leak? Do your engines start and run safely? Leadership, is it there? Do they do their job? If not and your equipment is not taken care of and people’s feet are not being held to the fire then the departments image will drop in the community. Just one of the many ways to lose the public’s trust! Show up and don’t put water on the fire, failed to make a search when it was safe to do so ,when there is reports of a victim trapped? As well, don’t just stand there and watch the house burn to the ground!
If you feel you do not have that perfect public image FIX IT! Hold community block parties or open house one day at the station! The more you involve the community the more outpouring of donations and community backing will follow!
After reading this are you or somebody you know or is your department giving the emergency services a black eye to all of us?