Q: How long have you been with EasCare and what do you do in your supervisory role?
PB: I've been with EasCare for over 5 years. It was my first EMS gig. My position consists of overseeing operations in the western region. I'm responsible for medical supplies, taking care of the crews, taking care of the people here and making sure that they have what they need to do their job and enjoy coming to work every day.
I like to make sure the crews have what they need to do their job well and assist them as needed, like during the snow storms. When they get stuck, I like to give them an extra set of hands or go to the hospital or go there to help crews move patients. I don't necessarily interact with the facility, per se, I'm more there to help the crews. I also make sure the policies are understood, followed and enforced. My approach is that I don't like to lead with discipline, I'm more of a lead by an example/lead by positive reward in the workplace.
Q: Where did you learn your leadership style?
PB: I've been in the U.S. Air Force Reserve since I was 19 and that's where I learned my leadership style. I look at it from an NCO (Non-commissioned officer or sergeant) perspective. I come from a long line of service. My great grandfather was in WWI, my grandfather was in WWII, and my father was in Vietnam.
My father currently works in EMS for Boston MedFlight, he's also a Boston firefighter and used to work in Worcester as a paramedic. I grew up being exposed to public safety and service-type professions and was always kind of geared towards it. I'm a Medic in the Air Force Reserve, and have been activated a couple of times, and most of my training was at Fort Sam in Houston, TX. I worked at Langley Air Force Base, completed clinical rotations at Langley and worked in the ER, labor and delivery and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). I'm still in the Air Force Reserve and am coming up on my six-year anniversary June 1, 2018. Once a month we go to Chicopee, MA, for drills at Westover Air Reserve Base, about an hour and twenty minutes from where I live. We go all over when activated. Often we're home-stationed doing physicals and getting people ready to deploy.
Q: Where did you receive your EMS training?
PB: I got my training at Boston Fire Academy, my dad teaches a class for firefighters and so I took my training there.
Q: What changes have you seen at EasCare since you started?
PB: It's changed a lot. When I first got here, the west region was very busy. We controlled most of Worcester as far as contracts go, when I started off as a Basic EMT, doing 13 half hour shifts, and it was fast paced work for my first gig. Did a lot of transfer work, and we had our emergencies too. We went through a rough patch when Medavie bought us. Just before Brewster Ambulance acquired EasCare, I was a field training officer responsible for training new people coming into the company, brand new EMTs out of school, getting them up to speed. Then I was promoted to supervisor. At first I was a online supervisor, now I'm an offline supervisor, working a desk more often. I miss the field aspect of being on the road and interacting with patients. I like making them smile when they're going through a rough time. So now I have a different focus in supporting the crews and helping them succeed.
Q: What did you like about working with the new EMTs?
PB: It's really fun because you got pretty much a block of clay and have the opportunity to mold it the way you think is best. I've experienced training people through the military, in fact, I still run a CPR program and stuff for my unit, and I help train the EMT refreshers, teach those, so I definitely enjoy the learning experience, and how to approach the different learning styles (tactile, audible, written). At EasCare, I still teach the refreshers. I get to wear a lot of hats here. I'll still hop on a truck when someone goes out sick. I work closely with the regional manager and help out with scheduling when needed.
Q: How do you work with EMTs?
PB: I believe that everybody is trainable. It's about your approach, you have to take that into account. I was always of the mindset that no one is untrainable, some people just don't want to be here. Unfortunately that's sometimes the case. I'm the first one to stick up for someone who is not getting it, and the first thing I ask them is, "Do you want to be here?" I'll work with them off the clock if need be. Role modeling is the most effective. Sometimes in EMS, their heart's not in it like it used to be. I have to set an example for the younger kids coming in.
When I was starting out, I made certain to put myself with the right people and model myself. Thankfully I had my father, my main role model with him being at Boston MedFlight, he set the bar pretty high for me. There's one thing I remember is to treat every patient like they are a family member, regardless of how they're treating you in the moment.
I have to remind myself a lot that I'm doing this to serve, and that I applied for the job because I wanted my coworkers to have a better environment where there were standards and that they had the things they needed to do the job. I was surprised when they called me and said I got the job. I was the youngest one out of the applicant group and I was shocked when they offered it to me.
Q: What are some of the things you were able to accomplish?
PB: We have all of the equipment we need, we won't run out of gloves now which is nice. Little things like that. It's more organization, more structure, here for a while we didn't have supervisors, it was free range EMS, so now there are standards. I'm a type A personality and I like to go get things done. Unfortunately, the company doesn't change overnight. The biggest challenge I face is the culture and that I was so young in the grand scheme of things, and earning the respect of my employees, that took a while but I think I've done it.
My grandmother said, "You can get more bees with honey," and I'd much rather lead through reward and praise rather than dismiss without looking into it. I take into account all sides of the story, there's always three sides to the story; what they said, what the other people said and what actually happened.
Q: How do you help the team on a bad day?
PB: I just remember what it was like being on the truck. I never wanted to lose that. When I put on my uniform, I say to myself, "Remember you were that guy on that truck," and I promised myself I wouldn't forget where I came from. I've had leaders who have forgotten where they came from. The day I do I will step down from my position.
Q: What has improved regarding the culture since Brewster Ambulance acquired EasCare?
PB: It's been a challenge for many to buy into the new vision. They hear, "We're gonna rebuild, it's gonna be better," and they are a bit skeptical because they heard similar things from the Canadian Medavie company when they purchased EasCare, and things actually got worse. I'm trying to develop a culture where people have hope again. It's tough, but it's slowly happening. Here we have a lot of people who have been here for years. We have a high employee retention here which is very rare in private EMS. Most people want to embrace the improvements that have been showing up, but many are still cautious, which is understandable given the past experiences we've all had.
Q: What has Brewster Ambulance done that has helped?
PB: The way they look at crew welfare is something I totally agree with. It's at the top of the list. It's definitely my top priority. Between how they schedule shifts, used to be you could only work 8 or 10 as a basic, and they brought back 13 and a half, which is good. The pay raise was a game changer for a lot of peoples lives, and it truly is changing the industry. When you take care of your people financially, they're more apt to take care of you. And it's challenging for our competitors to match up to it—they're chasing us on industry standards for employee welfare.
Q: What's one thing that you want to push forward?
PB: I definitely want to get more involved in Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) mental health programs. I saw a lot of PTSD in the military, and it's not just a sailor's or airman's burden, it definitely impacts first responders and it's not always isolated to the 911 calls. When you see so many people dying fo cancer, for example, it wears on you. I want to reinforce to my crews that there are programs available and help out there they can take advantage of. It all comes back to taking care of your people.
My father said, "Every call's your call." Whenever I can help a crew I will. My biggest miss is the humor on the truck. I was lucky enough to have a lot of good partners, and every day I'd enjoy coming to work. They become like a family member to you if you work with the same person 40 hours a week. Everyone here is family, a lot of the same faces are still hanging around, and that's one thing I'm very proud of is that people want to come to work here, they enjoy it and they like coming to work. It's always been that way.