911 Song Commentary

Submitted by: Troy

For everyone who may be wondering about the portrayal of EMS in Dave Carroll’s song “Everyday Heros”, here is an email conversation I had with Dave the day after I watched the video. My comments are not to meant to stir any pots or bring forward any ill feelings, they are intended to educate. Dave has taken them respectfully and invited me to share them here, so I have. Likewise, I have taken Dave’s response with respect and have never held any bad feelings towards him. To be able to discuss and understand one anothers views is the hallmark of communication. For anyone in the field of EMS who may feel upset or wronged over this video, please read this email conversation and make it known to anyone else you know who may feel the same way. Dave has done a good thing with this song and video, let’s not forget that. It is the way society and the media considers EMS in an inadequate esteem that is the real issue, not Dave Carroll. Don’t harp on him, educate and inform those around you instead.

Thornhill, Ont.

On Wed, Sep 22, 2010 at 11:04 PM

Mr. Carroll

I have just finished watching the video of your new song about Everyday Heroes on your website. I just have a few things I’d like to mention about it. I know you have had many emails since your “United Breaks Guitars” exposure (UBG…very nice by the way), some nice, some not. Unfortunately, my email is of the negative nature. Forgive the moderate lengthiness of this email, but please take the few simple minutes to read it over.

Mr. Carroll, your song and video is of a nobel gesture, but to the one third of us in the emergency services you endeavoured to acclaim, it is an infuriating slap in the face. You have neglected to mention in any way, shape or form Emergency Medical Services (EMS) or Paramedics. I understand from the story of how you came about to write the 911 song that the push came from a company in the United States. In the U.S., the larger cities have EMS and Paramedics as part of the local Fire Departments. I don’t know if that had any bearing on your research into writing the song, but the way in which EMS is delivered across North America varies greatly. Sometimes the Paramedics work for either a large company, a private local provider, based in the Fire Service, or a service run by municipal or even provincial governments. In Nova Scotia, EMS is provided by, and Paramedics work for, Emergency Health Services (EHS) which is operated by the Province of Nova Scotia. Whether it be in downtown Halifax or out in the rural reaches close to Canso or Digby, Paramedics work for one service treating all the citizens of the province. The same goes for British Columbia and Alberta. In Ontario, EMS Providers are largely operated by the local municipal or regional governments. As for Paramedics and Emergency Medical Dispatchers (EMD’s) themselves, they are a highly skilled and tremendously trained group of people who take the training or college and university courses on their own time and and with their own money. For Paramedics, it is generally a two to three year program that they need to graduate from BEFORE they can even apply for a job posting. This shows a dedication to serve the people and makes Paramedics and EMS Providers a critical link in the emergency services within their own communities. Take a look at one small, but rarely mentioned fact that even your own video portrays…when a Police Officer or Firefighter is injured in the line of duty, who gets the call to “rescue the rescuers”? Paramedics.

Mr. Carroll, for many years Paramedics, EMD’s, EMS Providers and their support staff have unfortunately played third fiddle in the eyes of the media and even the public they, without reservation or hesitation, have served. Paramedics have had to constantly withstand relegation to obscurity and thanklessness. Even during the tragedy of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre Towers, the then President of the United States George W. Bush didn’t even mention the nine known Paramedics that were killed when he addressed his nation to commend the Emergency Responders attending that chaotic scene. Of “The Nine” originally known about right after that day (including the well noted “10-David” Ambulance crew EMT-Paramedic Mario Santoro and EMT-Paramedic Keith Fairben of the New York Presbyterian Hospital EMS) only two of those Paramedics were members for the New York Fire Department (FDNY). The rest were Paramedics from either a private or volunteer EMS Provider. After continuous investigation, “The Nine” have now grown to become and confirmed as Forty-Two. A substantial change in the number, yet no media outlet reports on it. Compare this to the “343” FDNY Firefighters (which again includes the two FDNY Paramedics) and the Fifty-One NYPD and PAPD Police Officers that the public can recall at the slightest mention of the numbers of Emergency Responders killed on September 11, 2001. I mention all this as we now have someone of your notoriety who totally neglected to include ONE THIRD of the First Responders he honestly wanted to honour in a song. What will this do? Well, to put it plainly, it will make Paramedics and EMS Providers again feel unappreciated, looked down upon, forgotten and angered. I myself have provided Paramedic services to people in my community for close to twenty years. I have had to daily inform and educate the public to the fact that I am not just an “ambulance driver” but a highly trained Pre-hospital Emergency Medical Provider. I have personally saved numerous lives, eased the pain of the sick and injured, and provided a shoulder to cry on for many a grieving family member. I too have had to risk my life in highly dangerous situations such as working in over turned car wrecks, being underneath subway trains, treating victims on scenes of active violence or attending to a patient with an unknown extreme disease such as SARS. It may not be as stark a reality as having someone pointing a gun at you or entering a burning building, but it’s just as dangerous all the same.

The purpose of my email Mr. Carroll is, as I have mentioned above, to inform and educate people to the real scope and practice of Paramedics and EMS Providers. I am not, nor will I be “demanding” any apology or a re-write of the 911 song. That would be unrealistic and impractical. It is my hope that by letting you know how just one Paramedic feels about being left out of your well intentioned act, that you can remember to include Paramedics and EMS Providers in your own thoughts whenever you perform or talk about Everyday Heroes.

I thank you for taking the time to read this.


Thornhill, Ontario, Canada

Date: Thu, 23 Sep 2010 13:03:20 -0300
Subject: Re: 911 Song commentary
From: dave@davecarrollmusic.com

Hi Troy:

First of all please, call me Dave. I respect your views and invite you to share them on the 911song.com website as it was meant to be a place to exchange stories and view points. Although I didn’t explicitly include EHS in the song I made sure to include Paramedics and Dispatch in the video as important partners. The EHS people were in the middle of the police scene attending to injured officer. I include EHS and Dispatch in my talking about the song and value what they do tremendously. As a songwriter I decided to write a song that offered two glimpses from two branches of the service that would resonate with people and understand that people’s attention spans wane after about 4 minutes. The bride of the song speaks to all first responders without saying police or fire however. Could I have found a way to write them in to the existing song? Perhaps, but as an artist I think I found a good way to honour the people who serve in the system and was happy with the song when I completed it, with no designs to ever make a video about it. The video came next and I made sure to include them… and I’m glad that I did.

Your comments haven’t fallen on deaf ears and I realize that maybe I can draw more attention going forward to the value EHS adds to the 911 service. I have to disagree that my attempt to include EHS is in any way a slap in the face and in hindsight maybe I could have been more thoughtful in the songwriting process but I am also very careful to never come across as contrived in my writing.

Thanks again for your comments and please feel free to add your email to the website comments page. Your thoughts were well laid out and your concerns valid.

Cheers, Dave

On Thurs., Sep 23, 2010 at 1:44 PM

Dave, hi back.

Thank you for taking the time to read my email and for responding. It is well appreciated. As to the reasoning behind your decisions on how you wrote the song, I can fully understand and accept them. I am a touch of a musician myself and have friends in the music industry so I do know what type of constraints and creative hurdles a songwriter can have. For me, I do not consider your statement of “…I decided to write a song that offered two glimpses from two branches of the service that would resonate with people…” to be patronizing or offensive in any way. It shows the unfortunate reality that in order to make your heart felt intentions and admirable concept of your song understood, the general public has to be communicated to in that way. Through no fault on your part, it again highlights how Paramedics and EMS Providers are not seen as equals in the field of Emergency Services by that general public. I consider your aspiration on making note of EMS/EHS as you go forward with the 911 song to be an honest gesture. May the whole purpose you have for creating this project come to an abundant fruition.

Dave, I thank you and your band for your efforts in bringing attention to our Everyday Heroes.

With genuine respect,


7 replies
  1. Leigh says:

    Erwin demonstrates the type of ignorance towards paramedics that is all to common. Since the police and fire in the video seem to be halifax I think it would fitting that the Paramedics would be wearing an EHS ( Nova Scotias Paramedics)badges. Erwin, I wonder how naggy you think we are when you really need us.

  2. Erwin says:

    just the cop on the stretcher and a white shirt (without a badge) helping out.

    Police, one badge, Fire fighters one badge,

    Paramedics? which badge should the video artist choose?
    If I had to make this video, I could choose the round red sign with a white cross of the Malteser knights? The red shield with the white cross of the St.Jon’s knights? the yellow cross in the red circle of the ASB (Arbeiter Samariter Bund, Germany)? the white badge with the red cross of the Red Cross? the red castle of the paramedics of the City of Hamburg?

    Being a former member of the German Luftwaffe (Airforce) infantry, maybe I would like to show the red cross under wings of the SAR EMS helicopter crews who go there where others can’t go or can’t be fast enough. After seen how paremedics nag here because their role in the video isn’t big enough I wouldn’t wonder how they would nag because there had been the “wrong” badge on the shirt. So I think Dave did it right to show no badge at all.

  3. Kevin Martin says:

    As a firefighter in a small town we are often called upon to do a wide variety of tasks. We always hope we are ready for what waits for us when we open the door of the trick and step out. Obviously I am pleased with the video the song and the responses it is receiving. However I would like to take this chance to say this. THANKYOU EMS! Although I might be the one breaking down a door or running into a burning building, part if the confidence I have to do these things things is knowing that EMS is right outside if I need them. Let’s face it sometimes I put myself in situations I maybe shouldn’t. However EMS always has my back, is always making sure I’m not overdoing it, not getting heat stroke, ect, ect, ect! Once again….EMS THANKYOU!

  4. Lindsey says:

    quick note: after reviewing the video i found one fallacy in my previous statement. there is one face shot of a paramedic using a pen light.

    i think what it all comes down to is ems is not considered a career. its a vocation. i was a criminal justice student and most people would say “good for you. we need more good cops.” when i switched to EMS the response changed to: “what are you going to do after that?” and “your not going to be a paramedic for the rest of your life are you?” it just wrong.

  5. Lindsey says:

    not only that but the paramedics were only in the background. no face shots no close up of them working. just the cop on the stretcher and a white shirt (without a badge) helping out. i don’t harbor any ill will for dave, its just how things are. the few, the proud, the forgotten.

  6. Trevor says:


    Very well writing email to Dave. I am a Paramedic and had the very same feelings after seeing the video. Unfortunately Dave’s great intentions are just another thing that shows how the public see’s all three services.

  7. Sahra says:

    Troy, I am shocked that you find the song and video a “slap in the face” to EMS personnel.
    I find that in the midwest of the U.S., Emergency Medical Services are held in high esteem. Similar to Fire and Police agencies, EMS are often treated with respect, whether they have earned and deserve it or not.
    I do agree that there are many different ways that emergency services are configured and this is confusing for the general public who often think that paramedics only work for fire departments.
    I am a telecommunicator and am pleased to see a dispatcher in the video at all. Thanks to Dave for the inclusion!

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