2018 American Ambulance Association
Membership Meeting & Awards
Dear Fellow Member:
I write today to introduce myself as the new President of the American Ambulance Association. It is my honor to serve on your behalf, and I wanted to share with you a bit about my vision for our association over these next two years.
Choices & Challenges
As I prepared to take office, I spent a lot of time thinking deeply about where we’ve come, where we are, and where we’re going. It occurs to me that the next two years will likely be about choices: We can choose to be an association that is the nation’s voice for ambulances services; or we can choose not to. We can choose to stand tall in the face of adversity; or we can choose not to. We can choose to work even harder, even when we passionately disagree with one another; or we can choose not to. And we can choose to do this hard work in concert with associations outside of our own, especially those that disagree with us. Or, here again, we can choose not to.
We have challenging work in front of us. One of the most demanding projects will be to use our voice of influence to advance the design of a cost collection system that works for all of our nation’s ambulance services, whether they are small, large, urban, rural, private for-profit, private not-for-profit, hospital-based, or fire-based. We can choose to lead our industry over the next two years and beyond by spearheading the next evolution of our reimbursement system. We can choose to do this work together, despite passionate disagreements amongst ourselves and with others. We can choose to speak with one unified voice.
As I lead the association over the next two years, I aspire to emulate leaders like Stephen Covey. In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, he described what I like to call the Habit of Listening: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” I also look to Margaret Wheatley, who described that, “Leaders do not deny that there’s a darkness. They simply choose not to live in it.” These next few years will likely have some darkness, and we can choose to wallow in it or we can choose to rise above it.
Something Maya Angelou said also resonates deeply with me: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” It is my hope that during my presidency, you will all feel truly heard, as well as appreciated for the life-saving and life-sustaining work that you do, day-in and day-out.
Many Providers, One Voice
When you think about the future of our industry, I ask you to consider the mighty sequoias. Many of these trees are more than 350 feet tall or weigh in above 500 tons. Intuition would suggest that a tree of this size must have a tap root that goes down hundreds of feet. However, they don’t. The root system of these towering redwoods actually goes down only 10 or 15 feet. How can these massive trees stand up against earthquakes, winds, prolonged flooding, and other existential threats? They stand up together. The roots of these giants are actually intertwined with those of their neighboring trees.
If we were to push away all the dirt and examine their foundation, what we would see is something that looks very much like an army of men and women who have their arms locked together. The trees help hold each other up, help each other stand tall. They’re not only supporting one another: the sequoias are also sharing nutrients.
As I think about this story in the context of our association, I see our member ambulance services as a forest of redwoods standing tall. Together, we are leaders in our industry and leaders in our nation’s EMS system. If we can indeed link our arms together, not just within this association, but including fellow stakeholder groups, couldn’t we support one another? Couldn’t we speak with one voice? Couldn’t we heal from these past difficult years, and move mobile healthcare forward? I think we can. Together, we can accomplish great things, and make soundly the difficult choices that we face. And while there will be many who will work on forging the future of our industry, I hope that I can play a small role in leading our association these next couple of years.
Thank you for your time, thought, and support, and I look forward to two years of sustained collaboration, cooperation, and success.
American Ambulance Association