Dresser After Dark — Interview

by Russ Reina on May 2, 2012

I’ve been AWOL, concentrating on marketing my book, something I dread like hemmorrhoids; I’m an Artiste, dammit, not a Shill!

At first, my book was an exercise to save my soul; an attempt to make sense out of my experiences as one of the first paramedics. It turned into part of a much larger American story that I am only just now getting to fully understand.

It wasn’t too long ago that a lot of our medicine was practiced within the matrix of community and connection. In the Stone Age by today’s standards, fifty years ago the Doctor’s bag held most of the tools available to treat patients and he brought it to your house! But things started to morph very quickly. The tools got bigger and more complex, new species of drugs spread like rabbits and the Doctor took on the roll of High Priest, now sequestered in the Institution where he/she uses all these Mysteries-Cloaked-in-Secrecy to prolong our lives but not necessarily improve the quality of them. It’s all a big experiment that is still in its infancy.

When I joined EMS around 1974 there was little more than “Head, Hands, and Heart” to work with. Within five years I was an Emergency Room on wheels! By 1985 a crucial transition had completed; Medicine no longer expressed itself as a by-product of people connecting with each other, it became something “delivered”. Once we started to have to use gloves to protect ourselves from our patients (as a result of AIDSfear) the umbilical cord to our Mother was cut.

All of this happened most visibly in EMS. We actually were the embodiement of that crucial transition of medicine. These were the times I wrote about; the times when I found myself with all these things to place between me and my patients whereas yesterday I had no choice but to face the humans I transported eye-to-eye. In a sense, EMS was a great metaphor through which to examine a societal movement toward institutionalization of most aspects of our human interaction. I, as a medic in a brand new approach to patient care, happened to be a reflection of that shift.

Since 2005 my focus has been to get the book out there and make it the best piece I could to express a lot of the worlds that my EMS colleagues experience but don’t talk much about. My focus has been on using my writing to influence the culture of EMS; to expand it a little to include conversations about Bigger Pictures than shifts and pay and how everyone marginalizes us.

This is quickly becoming a major theme in Radio Interviews I’ve been doing recently.

So, in one respect, I’m still learning what the book is really about and where to make it most useful; how best to use the book as a vehicle to increase the public’s awareness of EMS workers value to society, and how costly it is for them to do the work. I believe the public-at-large can actiually help EMS become the profession that it never really became.

Here is a recent interview I did on-line with Dresser After Dark, on Blogtalk Radio with Michael Dresser. Enjoy, and please let me know what you think:

(Sorry, folks…I’m working up a bad link here, please check back!)

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