Wes Ogilvie

Wes Ogilvie is a paramedic in Austin, Texas.

Wes Ogilvie used to see his role as a paramedic as a stress reliever.

The Austin, Texas based lawyer found that solving problems in an hour or two during his paramedic shifts — despite being high-risk, life-threatening problems — was a relief from a law career where problems spanned years at a time.

But right before the COVID pandemic shut the world down, Wes started noticing something that didn’t bring him any relief: Conversations among medical “professionals” on social media were all colored with a one-sided political tint.

The social justice initiatives that followed in 2020 and beyond put the politicalization of medicine on a rocket path, and Wes watched as this trend started seeping into his own role as a paramedic.

“Catch all phrases” like health equity and disparate impact started showing up in the professional bios of the very physicians who were acting as medical directors within the EMS system.

“If you question, ‘hey, that sounds a little political,’ the first response is, ‘why aren’t you doing better?’ And that’s their foot in the door, and now you see courses at medical conferences that are DEI-focused on implicit bias.” 

Wes has noticed the increase in DEI initiatives at conferences and within continuing education classes.

“We need a certain number of hours in continuing education to maintain EMS certification, and we have a limited amount of time to fulfill the requirements. I have to ask, ‘does a class on implicit bias best serve the patients who I take care of? If I take that class versus one on patient care documentation, which course offers more benefit to my patients, myself, or the organization I’m with?’” Wes says.

Wes has opted to spend his time in courses focused on patient care, but he’s concerned with the DEI trends he’s witnessing in the EMS field.

“This DEI training is optional now, but I’ve seen this as a lawyer — you’re going to see it pushed more and more, and if it doesn’t become a mandate to licensure, you’re going to have organizations and departments push it.”

Wes’ concern is rooted in his care for the patients he sees–patients who don’t have the luxury of calling to make an appointment with their practitioner of choice when they call for a paramedic or an EMT. The more time the EMS leadership spends on promoting DEI initiatives, the less time they can spend on emergency, life-saving care. 

“The impact on patients is simple–and it’s bad. If I’m spending an hour on implicit bias training, that’s an hour I’m not spending on airway management. That’s an hour I’m not spending on pharmacology, or the latest updates in cardiology.”

We are thankful that there are practitioners like Wes who have the courage to speak out and advocate for patients. 

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