Managing an EMS organization can involve mundane tasks that help assist with the everyday functions. It can be tedious, time-consuming and tiresome, but it is a vital background component to a thriving service. EMS has evolved from its booming catalyst in the 1960’s and continues to change the landscape of providing optimized services for the patient. Part of the success stems from the empathetic strategies that come from EMS managers. Louis Cox, retired Operations Director of Hall Ambulance in California, provides insight as to what make an effective manager.
Cox started his career in EMS almost 45 years ago in Missouri with launching its first EMT initiative and quickly grew tired of the massive winters. Adventuring west, Cox landed in the sunny, Golden State of California and found his continued passion with Hall Ambulance with the management of 75 ambulances.
In explaining the logistics, Cox encourages people to go above the required knowledge of the EMS industry by saying, “To run a service, people have to be conscious of the constant changes from topics like Medicare to finance, but the most important concept is understanding your team, having emotional intelligence and treating them as good as the patients we are serving. Show humanity.”
Understanding organizational behavior helps to uplift others in the workplace by understanding how to treat fellow EMT’s and paramedics. The inability to treat employees the way they should be hinders the logistical flow of operations and cultivates a tiring, toxic environment. Open communication, accessible resources and empathizing with others help to solidify the success of a team’s efforts.
In addition, Cox provides proactive measures that go beyond the desk of operations. Cox says, “We have to be politically involved in our environment and region. As a manager of an ambulance company, we have to incorporate our connections kindly within the community, whether they be the people, politicians or whoever. Kindness goes a lot farther; just because you have power does not mean you need to be a jerk.”
Harsh situations and uncomfortable conversations can stimulate adverse reactions but keeping a level head helps to alleviate stress while building strong relationships. An ambulance service assists in the health and safety for the community so such organizations have to uphold healthy relationships in all aspects of the community. As Cox likes to say, “Treat people like you would want to be treated.” It is a timeless phrase that nudges the gentle reminder to show kindness when managers are put in adverse situations.
In pushing boundaries, Cox tells a story of how taking the time for a moment in humanity can be the best form of medicine. Cox says, “One crew was serving a lady in hospice. They were running late on a dispatch, and I did not tell dispatch that the crew was taking the patient on a detour to a Bakersfield park. She had days to live and wanted to smell the roses. They took time to deliver one of her last wishes.” Sometimes slowing the operational flow of a service can be what is best for a patient in capturing a beautiful moment. The world of EMS can be a challenging environment but taking the time to stop and smell the roses can create the largest impact of life’s work in EMS.
*The crew photo is one of the most recent photos for Hall Ambulance.