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Comfort zone

Talking to people, reading books and surfing the net, you regularly come across a statement when it comes to personal development: “Get out of your comfort zone!”

So I did. I got off the couch.

And proceeded to board a flight to Switzerland – and I must commend the pilot for one of the smoothest landings I have ever experienced. Very comfortable. As are swiss trains. And my friend’s spare bed where I stayed a night (thank you hpcpr!).

Why was I actually there? I had signed up for was an Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) course, at a small but great little Paramedic School near Lucerne. I had spoken at a conference there last year which left me a good impression, plus I knew one of the staff there…and thought to myself “wouldn’t it be great to get some clinical skills done in a different language, in a beautiful country?”

Now, having grown up speaking German, and lived in Germany for 17 years, I’m au fait with the lingo. But I a) haven’t lived there for 10 years now, and b) the swiss dialect is comparable to Scotsman having a raging throat infection whilst simultaneously suffering a stroke.

Needless to say, I had my work cut out for me.

The ACLS bit wasn’t too difficult. I had the handbook (in Hochdeutsch, equivalent to Oxford English), and most of the clinical stuff was (well needed) revision. But I still went home with a bit of a buzzing head after each of the two days. Listening to conversations, let alone instructions, in a tricky dialect does push you out of your comfort zone.

So – what do we learn from all of this? My take home message (literally, as I’m writing these lines on my way home from Gatwick Airport) is that getting myself out of my comfortable, well known and understood environment got me more than just an ACLS certificate. It got me a shift in a different ambulance service, it got me a relaxing holiday, it allowed me to catch up with friends…but most of all, it was a humbling experience. All my professional knowledge and expertise doesn’t count for much when you are (at times) desperately trying to understand what’s going on, and formulate a fitting response in a way that the others will understand.

Experiencing that humility every once in a while is vital. Not only as a paramedic, or a manager or a leader, but as a human.

Gen Y – Who We Are, What We See

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.


Our Influences

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 AustraliaGermanyUK, 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.



clinicial w patient (12)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.



Generation Y

Earlier this week I travelled to Hamburg, a great city in the far north of Germany, with a rich history of trade and some beautiful views (especially in the snow), even if the general attitude of the folk there can be rather cool and direct…consider yourself warned 🙂

IMG_6323There was a lot to see and do, including some very early Porsche experimental vehicles in the Prototyp Museum, strolling along the Reeperbahn, and finding out that apparently the fifth member of The Beatles was a police van. Who knew?

Hamburg, being a hanseatic city, thrived and thrives on trade through its port, which it has been relying upon for centuries. Knowledge, experience and wisdom has continually been passed down from one generation to the next in a move to keep the city, and the trade, at the top of its game.

What has that got to do with Paramedic Services, I hear you ask? And for the more established adults amongst you, dear readers, do I detect a hint of frustrations at us Young ‘uns, with all their Facetagram, Twitspace, Blogtube, glued to their screens all day and night? And for fellow Young ‘uns, I can hear your sighs when you think about those old guys who just don’t get what the net is all about.

Well, earlier this week I attended the 1. Zukunftsforum Rettungsdienst, the 1. Future Forum for Paramedic Services in Hamburg, to talk about just that: Generation Y – our expectations and demands.

Keep your eyes peeled for next weeks post…


Hello all,

The network is closing. Thank you very much to Dave for all the support over the past years, your help and assistance was mutely appreciated.

This blog will re-emerge with a new design and focus within the next few weeks – stay tuned.




Hello to all dear readers,

There hasn’t been much happening here as of late. Much of that has had to do with my energy being channeled in to my last module of my uni course, which, as you can hopefully understand, is draining. But you know what? I handed in my final essay this week, and I can feel the tension and the pressure slip away – and all that energy being available for other good things. I have some plans for some interesting blog posts in my mind, so keep an eye out.




I’m awake, I’m away
I’m confined, I’m astray
I’m a rebel, I obey
When I’m tired.

I’m switched, I’m flipped
I’m down, I’m dipped
I’m quiet, tight lipped
When I’m tired.

I’m lonely, I’m horny
I’m passive, I’m thorny
I’ll listen, so bore me
When I’m tired.

I long for the days where I drift along
Not from fatigue, but from song
Immersed in the warm, sweet scent of life
But then it grips me, and stabs me like a knife.

I’m automatic, I’m robotic
I’m static, postraumatic
I’m erratic, far from ecstatic
When I’m tired