So after countless hours of preparation, xprevaluation, frustration and procrastination, here I was. Das 1. Zukunftsforum Rettungsdienst, the ‘First Paramedic Future Forum’ was going to begin in a few hours, with yours truly about to give a speech on a bit of a provocative issue, not only within paramedic services. I have split the talk in to three blog posts: This one will present the “whos, whys and whats” about us, the next post will follow on our expectations, finally, the last post will be on how to bring it all together. As always, feedback (via social media or the contact form) is muchly appreciated.
Who are we?
Being a Gen Yer myself, I am writing this post in first person – I am after all talking about my generation, my peers, our (general) viewpoints and our issues! But firstly, why Generation Y? Because Y comes after X, simple. Additionally, we are Generation WHY? – more on that later. It is not clearly defined who is and isn’t Gen Y. Depending on your sources, it is roughly those born between 1980 and 2000.
Think back two or three decades ago. What was going on in the world back then was what shaped us. The big one was obviously the rise of computing technology – it was coming from academia and defence in to commercial applications, and quickly spread in to our personal homes (and continuing in to our pockets!). We are the first generation to grow up with computers – we are Digital Natives. We understand, use, and trust technology.
The rise of technology also meant the rise of instant access to tons of information – we know our surroundings much better than we used to, and what we want to know is just a few clicks away. The media has obviously grown with this; advertising and marketing means that specially selected information has bombarded us from an early age, mostly without any clicks necessary.
The removal of many boundaries and borders, geographical, economical, political etc, has made the world a smaller place. Trade has increased, giving us access to exotic goods. And if we want to find out more about whatever we fancy, the advent of available, cheap, and safe mass travel has enabled us to move around the globe much more easily than ever before. This is not a privilege for rich white men anymore either – think of how far womens rights have come in the past decades, as well as the recognition and support of various minorities, access for lesser abled, decrease of global poverty etc – all this has given us a different view of the world.
Our Traits & Characteristics
So what do our influences translate to in reality? What can one say about us? One major fact about Gen Y is our high education – we make up a higher qualified and skilled workforce than ever before. The number of university graduates has continually increased (see Australia, Germany, UK, US). We also know that with the attainment of our education, our dream job is often not around the corner. We are mobile, and happy to travel to get to the job we want, where we want it. To stay in touch with friends and family, we use technology, the same way we found the job in the first place. This also allows us to find out how the service in the next city, county, or country works. Maybe we should move there? Or even move to a different profession all together – we’re mobile in between industries.
This does show as less employer loyalty – but to many of us who have grown up with parents who dedicated years or even decades to the same employer, to be at best thanked with a sloppy handshake for all their toil, or at worst with ruthless redundancy when the economy folded, we have lost some faith in employers. After all, we work to live, not live to work! We like money, we want money (we want to express personality and individuality), but we want the flexibility to go away on holiday or more, to experience life from a different angle. Reading, watching, hearing about new places and things – that isn’t enough, we want to experience them! On top of that, we have an increased social and ecological conscience. We’ll do whats right, but also what is right for us (we’re still humans after all!).
I have often heard that ‘kids these days just sit in front of the screen’. Yes, we love our screens, but we use that as a connection with others – calling up another friends landline is outdated, and usually will be a fruitless exercise anyway because they won’t have a landline. With all the social media messaging services (and SMS prices dropping drastically) we connect online, digitally. It’s not necessarily better or worse, just different – with a whole world of new possibilities attached.
I digress a little…
Let’s get this edging towards the Paramedic side of things a little. Take a trip back in a time capsule, back to Station 51, riding along with Johnny & Roy in Emergency!
What were Paramedics Services then? Yes, correct: Ambulance services. Transport Services. Actual treatment was just beginning to be introduced. They really were, no disrespect, Ambulance Drivers.
Well, those Good ol’ Days are gone. Things have changed. But was everything really good? What has improved, what has become worse? Think about what kind of jobs we go to these days predominantly, and how many of them we attend. Paramedic services have moved, developing both clinically and operationally. Some of our interventions would have been doctor only 10-15 years ago, which is a strong nod to our increased capabilities due to increased education and knowledge.
What are we confronted with?
So now you know who we are. We’ve touched on where Paramedic Services have come from, but
I believe we all know that we are not yet where we want to, could or should be (with very few exceptions).
Look around and you will see ossified structures, making it nigh impossible to implement change. And if you are lucky to get to the stage of being able to adjust and improve an issue, the tables are guaranteed to turn very slow indeed, resulting in something between frustration and capitulation. Let’s face it: we are working with outdated systems.
There is much to be changed and improved. The 20th century finished over one and a half decades ago. Let Gen Y help with bringing our profession in to the 21st century.