“Somebody should do something.”
Yes, somebody should. Because for sure, even a mountain of the best intentions alone, do not make things better.
Facta non verba is a Latin term for ‘actions, not words.’ It is so simply stated, yet so impactful in effect; I think it may be the perfect first responder motto.
Facta non verba is really a statement about energy transition - potential energy into kinetic energy. It is the conversion point where what we believe transforms into who we are, who we are becoming in life. It is about moving purposefully through this world and positively affecting people along the way.
Facta non verba is a formula for revealing the immense power of humanity inside each of us and changing the world, one decent act at a time.
Does this seem at all familiar?
“Action is character.”
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
Ask almost any emergency service member “what Is your job” and they will likely answer - to save lives. Extrication, rescue carries, intravenous lines, medications, ECGs, trauma care, placing airways - this is not a work from home career. You have to show up.
A single day on the job of a first responder can have quite a bit of action.
So, there you go. Saving lives, rarrrr. It’s what we do.
But what about when it is not time to save lives?
How do we act then?
When there is no overturned vehicle with trapped passengers, when there is no unconscious subject that requires immediate resuscitation, when there is no one hanging out of the 3rd floor window of a burning building - what is the right thing to do?
Really, think about it.
What are your actions when there is no immediate life to save?
How do you treat the patient from the motor vehicle accident when their only injury is emotional upset? How patient are you with the dementia patient that will never remember your name, let alone where you are taking them? How do you empathize with the intoxicated, the overdosed or the suicidal? What is your plan for the chronically ill patient in desperate distress?
What bandage do you use to care for the lonely, the anxious, the fearful and the anguished?
How earnestly do you listen to that patient that only needs to be heard?
What do the ‘life-savers’ do when there is no physical emergency - is there still a life to save?
“You can easily judge the character of a person by how they treat those that can do nothing for them.”
This job is not only about saving lives. This is a quality of life mission.
We are here to bring the best of humanity to the worst of conditions.
Once we can grasp this, the concept of deeds over words becomes something that we can do in any circumstance, on and off the job. With our patients, our fellow crews, with strangers on the street and our families at home - we can be the difference.
Sometimes there is no direct action, no skill, no medication, no bandage to alleviate the suffering. Sometimes the facta, or the action, is the best of humanity that we bring. The action is the words, the support, the kindness, the empathy.
What exactly should your actions say to the world? How do you know that your actions will be what’s needed in that moment?
This is where personal code comes in.
You are going to have to know what you stand for. You need to decide, wayyyyy before you leave the station, before you start the shift, even before you start your career - what you want your life to represent, on and off the job. You need to choose what your values and standards will be a responder and as a human, to be in this profession. That way, when it has all been said and it has all been done, you can know you worked with a purpose, you acted courageously and with integrity, when it mattered most.
We will be talking a LOT about this in the coming year.
In the meantime, honestly consider this:
On that worst of days, what values would you want in the first responder answering the call to your family member’s emergency?
As often as you can, as consistently as you can, wherever you go, place those values immediately after the word ‘Be...’
Be the difference.
Be that small source of the best of humanity, in the worst of conditions.
“Be the change you want to see in the world.”
- Mahatma Gandhi
This is a quality of life mission. There is no greater privilege than to be there for someone on their worst of days, to serve. The right thing to do - is right in front of you.
Make your actions speak louder than your words and I promise you, your life experiences will start to collect compound fulfillment.
Until next time,
Facta Non Verba.
Do > say.