Disparity

Did you know that there’s now an ongoing debate in the emergency medical community about c-spine? C-spine is the method we use to immobilize your spine after a car wreck or when you fall – it can be pretty uncomfortable no matter what we do. It involves putting a stabilization collar on and strapping you to a backboard. Recent research has shown that backboards may actually do more harm than good, so our new protocols (at least in most areas) is to try to determine whether c-spine is really necessary. In some cases, however, mechanism of injury still dictates whether we take that precaution.

Most of my readers have no idea what I’m talking about. It’s not because you’re uneducated, you’re just not trained to do what I do. The people who are far less likely to understand what I’m talking about? The fast food workers currently striking in 100 cities to demand that the federal minimum wage be raised to $15 an hour.

I don’t mean that as an insult. I’m making a point.

I went to college to learn emergency medical technology and emergency services management. To get my EMT certification I had to pass the classes before passing a gauntlet of skills stations. I had to prove my knowledge in c-spine, oropharyngeal/nasopharyngeal airways, bag-valve masks, CPR, trauma assessment, medical assessment (yes, there is a difference), mass casualties, and AED. Then I still had to take the 500-question national registry exam to get the card that said I had satisfied the basic requirements to become an EMT.

Every two years I have to take the skills stations and the written test all over again; in those two years there can be any number of changes in our protocols. In one system I’m allowed to use CCR rather than CPR (one uses rescue breathing while stopping compressions, the other doesn’t). In the other system I have to use CPR. If I work in a neighboring county (which I occasionally do), I have to be up-to-date on my phlebotomy skills. Where I normally work I can spike bags and set up blood tubing, but I’m not allowed to start IV’s.

There is always new research coming out. I have to constantly pay attention to new rules about what we can and cannot do in traffic. I am much more likely to get into a wreck in my ambulance than in my personal vehicle, no matter that I’m a highly-trained driver who religiously pays attention to everyone around me. I often work 24 or 48 hours at a stretch and frequently have to wake from a dead sleep to answer 911 calls for anything ranging from abdominal pain to a gunshot wound.

I absolutely love what I do. I hated working in an office setting. What I do is worth about $11 an hour. Some of my brothers and sisters make less. The pay will never stop me from working my butt off because I love it.

I fail to understand how flipping burgers is somehow worth more than all of the time, money, and hard work I’ve put into what I do.

I don’t do what I do for recognition. That’s not what I’m after here. I am hoping someone will explain to me why so many are so willing to raise hell about the wages of people who are uneducated and otherwise unskilled. Fast food is not a career. You don’t attend college to learn to work a fryer or clean a grill. That line of work was meant for high school students and college kids working their way through school, not parents supporting multiple kids.

The argument being made is that wages are tied to a person’s dignity. It is undignified to now work for $7.25 an hour – when I worked fast food in high school, I only made $4.25 an hour. I’m wondering now if I should sue for back wages for my dignity’s sake.

The other argument being made is that these corporations make more than enough to pay that kind of money. What these people don’t realize is that when the government raises minimum wage so drastically, it causes sudden and severe inflation. The dollar is devalued and everything costs more, but the standard of living doesn’t go up with it. The argument that a higher wage is needed to make life easier to afford is self-defeating; instead of closing the gap between so-called classes, it creates a genuine disparity. Redistribution of wealth always has that effect.

There are a number of issues to be considered, both big and small. Like most liberals, however, these folks don’t want to consider the big picture. All they know is what affects their tiny little world. If they get what they want they won’t be able to understand why the price of basic items has skyrocketed.

And when fast food workers can work a stand-up 24 where they get assaulted, thrown up on, and have to press padded trauma dressing into a sucking chest wound that’s spitting blood all over you, then I’ll hear complaints about not making enough money.