There are times when rules matter and they should be enforced no matter what the cost. This is a question of leadership. Discretion is the essence. People need certainty that the rules applied to them will be fair. But if there are going to be incidents when the application of the rules would obviously be unfair, they need to know their managers have the intelligence to look the other way. At the end of the day, it’s the safety of the sick that matters.
Meet Stephen Sawyer. He’s twenty-years-old and lives in upstate New York. He was acting as a volunteer emergency medical technician in trying to assist a four-year-old girl having a seizure. When four calls for emergency ambulances were ignored, he took the local Ellenville First Aid and Rescue Squad ambulance and drove the girl to the nearest hospital. Under the squad’s rules, all ambulance drivers must be at least twenty-one. He was given a sixty-day suspension. Not surprisingly, he quit immediately. In life-threatening situations when adults have failed, young men should be allowed to save the day. Punishing them sends entirely the wrong message.