Thoughts from the President September 2019

Professor Jim Ducharme

When I grow up, I want to make the world a better place. A simple, naive notion when I was an adolescent…

“Start small; take baby steps; pay it forward”. “You deserve what you accept. If you don’t think you deserve more, you’ll always accept less”. – all great words of advice, if only they were heeded.

I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” –Mother Teresa.

The above statements seem trite when read in isolation, but these simple words are the basis for success in a real life situation such as building global emergency medical care. Read them again and again and ask how you can apply them in your efforts. If you think it is acceptable for so many people to die from road traffic accidents, then people will continue to die at the same rates. Not accepting that this should continue, and that perhaps ripples in the water can make a difference, well then baby steps can lead to success. Ask the patients in Africa, where a one-page group of clinical questions has transformed outcomes for trauma victims.

To become involved internationally, even if you are a leader in your own hospital or country, you have to recognize that you probably do not know how to make the necessary changes in another system, another political world. You will need others to work with you, and you will need to align with existing organizations to have any significant impact. If you help those ‘others’, it is almost certain that in the future they will help you – call it paying it forward, call it altruism, call it doing what is right, it is a critical part of making emergency medical care (or anything) better.

I have a dream…” Martin Luther King demonstrated remarkably that passion and vision will ensure others will come to a cause, and that together, change will happen. Collaboration, not competition. Many ‘ripples’ united will lead to a wave of change.

“The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problem.” Mahatma Gandhi Once again, we must ask ourselves: what will we accept in our lives as the point beyond which we can go no further – and then we must ask ourselves why we have imposed that limitation. Many people have asked me why they should be involved in international emergency medicine – I often have no answer, but only a question: “how can you not be involved”? How can we witness children dying every day in emergency departments because of lack of proper emergency medical care and not feel we need to intercede? Even in developed systems, crowding has lead to increased mortality and increased morbidity – we seem to have accepted this and so deserve the poor working conditions within which we find ourselves.

Try not. Do or not do. There is no try”. Yoda The WHO this year has recognized the critical need for emergency medical care as a patient right around the world. There is a world wide need and there is now a mandate for high level emergency medical care to become reality. IFEM’s purpose is to lead the development of the highest quality of emergency medical care for all people. Our organization originated from the belief that all people, in all countries deserve access to high quality emergency medical care, and unites emergency medicine physicians from across the globe with a mission to “make it soJean Luc Picard. As a predominately volunteer run organisation, I continue to be inspired by the dedication of our volunteers and the incredible work of our Members.  Together, we can create a world where all people, in all countries, have access to high quality emergency medical care.

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