Professionally, Martin Betzer has spent most of his adult life with Falck, starting as a Paramedic Trainee back in 2005. As a young man, being a Paramedic seemed to comprise everything Martin wanted from life professionally.
“After high school, I gravitated towards journalism and medicine. I was attracted to the idea of being first on the spot. To be where the action is – and to be in the know. To have the highest level of information. But then I got drafted,” recalls Martin.
While drafted, Martin was with the Danish Defence Health Service and trained to be deployed abroad in international conflicts as an ambulance assistant.
“My stint with the Danish Defence Health Services convinced me of becoming a Paramedic instead of pursuing journalism. It ticked most of the boxes of what I was looking for. It sounds corny, but you make a very real difference to ordinary people every day,” says Martin.
No two days alike, but still …
A classic saying is that, as a Paramedic, every day is different. And it’s true. However, after riding the ambulance for eight years, Martin began to feel he was stalling professionally. He had taken every course available and had reached the end of line professionally as a Paramedic.
“In terms of pre-hospital, there were no more options career-wise. Unless I wanted to go back to square one and start over and become a doctor, or something. But I wanted to pursue a career within paramedicine that was more than just a Paramedic,” recalls Martin.
Martin felt convinced it was possible to challenge the traditional notion of the function of EMS within healthcare and create more value both for his own career and for Falck.
“My focus was how to convert what we had in Falck into something stronger and far more valuable in terms of healthcare – based on research and evidence,” says Martin.
Fortunately, Falck could see the point in developing Martin in the direction he wanted to go. And with the support of Falck, Martin took a Bachelor in Pre-hospital Emergency Care, and, afterwards, a Master of Health Research.
From Paramedic to Manager
On his return to Falck, Martin became an Ambulance Instructor. At that time, it was a role that required no formal training and carried two functions as both instructor and manager. After about two years, organisational changes within Falck meant the role was split up – and Martin decided to pursue the managerial path.
“The instructor part was a very valuable experience,” recalls Martin. “It combined the professional aspect with people development and coaching. But when the chance came to pursue a proper leadership function, it was too good to be passed up. It felt right.”
So, Martin became Deputy Area Manager with responsibility for the daily operations of three Falck stations and some 60 ambulance technicians.
“My primary task was people management. And the instructor experience proved invaluable. It had given me insights into what they experienced on the road – and how to handle it.”
Make change happen
In 2017 Falck got a new CEO. With him, Falck embarked on a cultural transformation. And Martin wanted to be part of the project.
“It was very inspiring,” recalls Martin. “The entire mentality of Falck changed. It became a completely different company. Dynamic. Energised. And I wanted to take part in building the new Falck; to challenge the old ways and spearhead the cultural transformation.”
Always good at sticking his head out and challenging conventions, Martin got appointed Head of a new department responsible for Quality and Development.
“We’re charged with the task of challenging the way we do things and come up with new and better ways to do it,” says Martin. “We’re rooting out legacy processes that no longer create value. And we’re introducing new ways to make our product and colleagues in the field stronger. We’re changing the mentality from process-focused to out-come focused.”
But Martin is also acutely aware that not everybody loves changes.
“People are used to changes being introduced because of budget cuts. It makes them insecure. That creates tension and opposition. Fortunately, most of what we introduce doesn’t cost a dime. That’s also new and takes time to get used to,” says Martin.
Hence, Martin and his team strive to be visible and out-reaching in their communication about what they do and why.
“I love it when we succeed in implementing a change that makes my colleagues better and happier; when we can work together in a positive mood towards a common goal. It might sound corny. But when you work with changes, it’s no small thing.”
One of the first things Martin’s new department did was to introduce a formal training program for the ambulance instructors to boost the quality of both instructors and ambulance technicians. They’ve also launched a Healthcare Strategy for Falck.
“It’s a completely new initiative. It’s a strategy for what we do as a healthcare company. How we do it, and how we talk about it. We’re not a logistics company. We’re a healthcare company. We can perform highly specialised medical treatment on the spot. On the 10th floor, in the basement, or in a highway ditch. Anywhere. That’s unique,” says Martin.