From Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
The common spirit existing in the members of a group and inspiring enthusiasm, devotion, and strong regard for the honour of the group.
It’s a rare thing to see a display of esprit de corps outside of an individual paramedic service, even rarer still is to see it applied to paramedics across the province. This sad state of affairs has taken years to develop and will likely take years to correct.
We can no longer be separate little islands in the same big lake, content with the idea that “someone” will step up when the need arises. As a profession we need to develop the idea of solidarity amongst all paramedics province wide regardless of service/labour organisation affiliation.
At a fundamental level what this means is that when the honour or integrity of one paramedic is questioned, the honour and integrity of ALL paramedics are being questioned and as a result all paramedics undertake the responsibility to stand and speak in support of their colleague and profession.
We can scale this feeling to encompass a service, a region, or the entire cadre of paramedics across the province. However, to effectively engage all paramedics provincially this feeling of esprit de corp must be non-partisan and without undue influence from outside sources.
We see the concept of esprit de corp used most effectively in the fire and police services across North America. Be it an individual, or an entire service in trouble the support offered by every other member is swift, consistent and powerful. As a profession we would do well to take a closer look at this phenomenon and learn how to apply it to our own unique circumstances.
To be clear, I am not proposing that we throw away the labour organizations who represent us at this time, merely that we start to think of ourselves as paramedics in Ontario rather than Ottawa paramedics, Niagara paramedics, Flight paramedics, etc. Narrowly defining ourselves by the region we serve, or the service we work for, allows us the luxury of ignoring the plight of our fellow paramedics who may desperately need our support in times of trouble.
There are more than 7000 paramedics in Ontario and countless more the world over. We all share a powerful bond in our common purpose, goals, trials and troubles.
With these numbers and taking into consideration our similarities and common strengths, I cannot see a reason why the paramedics of Ontario continue to operate in their own little bubbles when it comes to matters of solidarity.
How do we encourage a province wide esprit de corps amongst an admittedly jaded and cynical group of professionals? I don’t have that answer yet, I’m not sure if anyone does…
This however I do know; a paramedic should never stand alone during difficult times and that it is the responsibility of each paramedic to step up to support their colleague in need.