Rehab-Ethics, Policy and Law
· Do you think that Ricky and Steve’s behavior was ethical?
· Did Ricky and Steve violate any policies and procedures?
· Did Ricky and Steve violate any laws?
· What should Jason have done in this situation?
Jason was excited about his new job at Star Ambulance. Star Ambulance was a private company that served a small town neighboring the town where he had grown up. He had been going to night classes at the hospital for the past several months and had become a certified emergency medical technician. This job was the pay-off and he was on top of the world. He felt like he had arrived.
Jason was assigned to the day shift on Ambulance 2. He would be working with two older EMTs while he was on probation and learned how the company worked. Ricky and Steve had been working together for several years. Management trusted them to supervise and train all the new employees. Jason was a bright young man and an enthusiastic student. He was eager to develop all the skills he had learned.
Jason worked hard. He soon discovered that the bulk of Life Ambulance’s business was inter-facility transports. They occasionally went on emergency calls when a county unit was not available. Jason enjoyed the rush he felt when working at an emergency scene. He could not understand why his mentors preferred the slower pace of inter-facility transports.
After having worked there for a couple of months, Jason arrived for work on Sunday morning. He was surprised by what he found. Steve was standing out back behind the ambulance garage breathing from an oxygen mask. Ricky was just about stick him with an IV needle. “Hi Jason, you’re early this morning” Ricky said casually.
“What’s wrong with Steve?” exclaimed Jason.
“I’m okay. I’ll be fine in a few minutes” Steve mumbled through the mask.
“He just had a hard night of drinking. I’m going to fix him up with a little saline and he’ll be good as new” explained Ricky.
The Rest of the Story
Jason didn’t know what to say. He just stood there with his mouth open. These were men he respected and trusted as EMS professionals. “What’s the matter?” asked Steve. “Cat got your tongue?”
“Uh, no” stammered Jason.
“Look” said Ricky, “This is just one of those things that happen sometimes. You stay out a little bit too late, you have a little bit too much to drink; you’re just not all there when it comes time to start your shift. You come to work, breathe oxygen for about fifteen minutes, take in a liter of saline, and wah-lah, you’re hangover is gone.”
“This is just something we can do to help each other out” added Steve. “Someday it will be your turn.” Jason didn’t know what to say. He just stood there as Ricky started the IV in Steve’s arm. Ricky and Steve made small talk as the IV bag drained. When the bag was empty, Ricky removed the IV and threw all of the equipment into the red bio-waste container. The three of them went inside the quarters and Steve told the dispatchers that they were available for service.
They sat down together at the table in the break room. Steve and Ricky looked at Jason. “I know that you like working here” Steve said to Jason. “There are some things that happen in EMS that you just have to keep quiet about.”
“This is one of those times” added Ricky.
“It is important that your partner be able to trust you” continued Steve. “I know that you are new, if you want to fit in around here you are going to have to learn when to keep your mouth shut. Sometimes you are going to see and hear things that you don’t like. That is just part of working on an ambulance.”
“We know that you want to make it through probation” Ricky affirmed. “Steve and I are going to remember this when we write your evaluation.”
Source: “Case Studies for Emergency Responders: Leadership, Psychosocial and Ethical Dimensions”- SJ Woodall & Jeff Thomas