24 Sept 2005
"10 Things You Should Know Before Becoming an EMT"
Blood, guts, glory.
Some people look at the career as an EMT as that of "Wow, I could never do that." Some take the perspective that the things that we see are just too unimaginable for the human mind to comprehend. While, yet others, think that it all for the prestige that we sometimes get.
I am going to let you in on a little secret.
Anyone can do it.
Now, for those who are in the field, I want you to realize that I am not saying that this is a fool's job that requires almost no brain cells to do. What I am stating is merely the fact that this job, this profession, this goal is obtainable. All you need is the drive to do it.
Below is a list I comprised as to what I think and include in my drives to be a paramedic.
For the record, this is just one person's perspective and in no way do I represent the majority voice in this field. I just wanted to enlighten my readers as to what makes me function, and what drives me...everyday.
10. Not every call is a bad call. You know, I blame the media for this. It is, to my opinion, that no news is good news. Have you ever watched the TV and the media sports how "3 people died in a firey crash on the interstate." The focus is always on the tragedy of someone's life. When was the last time that you heard, "Someone's grandfather was revived after suffering a heart attack." Good news is boring to them. Good news, is bad business.
Also, you would be suprised as to what "nature" of calls that we go on. Sure, it may be a "male down" call that you get. But, when you get there, you find that he is enjoying the sunshine and had taken a nap. Sure, he may be heavily intoxicated, but it is an easy call. So are the stubbed toes, the "sick for 10 days", the sprained ankles. In all honesty, I would give a safe estimate of 15% of the calls that we go on have heavy merit. However, to the one calling, it is a true emergency. One reason I do my job.
9. Acute Code 3 fixation. Listen, for all you adrenalin junkies out there who think that driving with lights and sirens is the ultimate high in the world, well, ya all need to get a new hobby then. Yes, I admit, that there is some fun to driving the wrong way down a one way street at 60 MPH has a slightsense of adventure to it.But, to me, this is one of the scariest parts of the job. Okay, so you get a little more "legal" leeway as you are allowed to cross the double yellow line and all, but now your danger level increases (no, folks. Not in a good way.) What is that white car in front going to do? Is that blue pickup going to pull over? Are they really going to try to make the light before we get up to them.
People are idiots. (No, not everyone). They have their own adgendas and you coming up behind them is only slowing them down, so why should they pull over right away.
I think I have touched enough on this topic.
8. You Can't save everyone. Fact of life. Don't burn out trying. As a paramedic, I will do everything in my power to assess what is best for you and take the most appropriate course of action to either, alieviate your pain, prolong your life, or attempt to resuscitate you after you have failed to maintain a pulse. But there are certain aspects that I cannot explain that are beyond my power to do so.
As a new EMT, when the first one dies, a part of you dies with them. This will be carried on with you throughtout your career and more so, your life. But there will be others.
The way human emotion works is that you get sad, or angry when something doesn't go the way you plan and you try harder and harder to save taht next person, but you know what, it is not up to you. This is the decision of the big man in the corner booth upstairs in the clouds.
What I am saying is this. Don't try so hard to achieve a goal that is beyond your rational capability, but rather provide a support and ease thier life to the best that you can in the little time that you have them.
7. Remember when. Each day, more and more EMT's begin their new lives as emergency service personnel. Each day, someone will walk into a station and be unfamiliar with the place, the people, and the settings. Some of them are intimidated as to the job that they are about to jump into and are unsure of their abilities and most of all, thier potential. It is commonplace to pick on the new guy and have a little fun at their expense as hazing is a way of life and a passing of acceptance in a setting that is more family like than commercial.
Yesterday, I worked with a brand new EMT for the first time. Hewas so green that the wrapper was still on him. He is a good kid, and he will make an awesome EMT.
But you have to give them that respect. You have to be patient with them and let them prove to you that they are worth having around. Of course, you are going ot get those few that are cocky and arrogant, and most of all, self endugled. These are the ones that you really need to watch out for. These are the ones that will kill somebody.
But as for the rookie, have fun, but take him or her under your wing. Remember, you were new once too. Now they look up to you. Show them that they made the right choice.
6. EMT language for dummies. The door swings both ways on this one. The population that you service most likely has absolutely NO clue as to what you are talking about unless you space it in a manner that they CAN understand. Do you think that an 86 year old female is going to understand when you ask her "Do you have A-Fib" or "when you broke your hip, was it laterally or medially".
The Elderly, which is a majority of our demographics, have a hard time remembering what they take let alone why they take it. I have seen it time and time again. A paramedic ask a patient what seems like a simple question to them, yet is a foreign language to that person. Then the medic gets frustrated and raises their voice with a hint of anger laced in there.
When asking them something, try to make it concise, yet simple. Instead of asking them "Do you take Lasix?" Try "I see you take a water pill". If they can understand what you say, then they feel more comfortable with your skill, and feel confident to the fact that they called YOU to help them.
5. 100 decibles. This just in.....
Talking louder does NOT make a person understand you any better.
This is so relevant in the field where I work. This goes beyond the elderly and the hearing impaired. Where I work, there are quite a few people that english is a second language to them yet, some think if they talk slower and louder, that magically, they will be able to understand as to what you are saying.
Use common sense here. Unless someone tells you that they are hard of hearing, don't assume that they are. For that patient, you may make them feel belittled and they may have the assumption that you really don't care for them. This is NOT why we do what we do.
4. Listen up. In EMS, one of the most overlooked attributes of the EMT is that of thinking outside the box. Some rescuers get so tunnel visioned that they forget to look at the bigger picture and in most cases, overlook the cause of the problem.
We are more than bandage runners. We have achieved a greater goal as a member of society in the fact that we DO play so many different role.
Did you know that for the most part, people just want someone that will listen to them. Patients will give you pertinent information about their illnesses without even having to ask them. Yeah, sure, they may tell you more than you want to know also, but, the communications that you provide, will be influential in their recovery. Try it, you will see.
3. Expect the Unexpected. Always have your game face on. This is the best advice that I can give for this line of the entry. Going for an "Unresponsive" may be a person who took a nap on the couch and is a very heavy sleeper. Boy, won't he be pissed when you wake him.
A person who "fell" may have fallen. But was it the heart attack that made him fall.
In retrospect, you may never know what you are gonna get. (Sure, you can say that with your best Forrest Gump voice). So always be ready..because it could make a great journal entry,
2. Above and Beyond. You know, there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with going the extra mile. Finding a warm blanket for a patient even after they are in the hospital's care, making sure the house is locked for them, or even getting them a glass of water while you are in their home for them to take a pill.
It is the little things that go unsaid that make the image of the EMT stand out in someone's mind. That is what they always will remember.
1. No one wants to die alone. You know, it doesn't matter as to what I can teach you as an instructor, a mentor, or even as a friend. THIS has to be set as a golden rule. Someone's last few minutes on this Earth are precious and mean so much to them, and in my mind, it is an absolute honor to watch them leave their misery. By doing something as little as talking to them or holding their hand, it shows that you have compassion and that, by far, is the number one thing needed to succeed in this job. For that person, knowing that someone was there to witness their beginning of a new life for them, will let them pass with dignity and respect. And them knowing that you are there for them, will also make them feel loved. Don't treat them as a run number, treat them as a person. They were great to somebody at one time, let them die with that memory.
Have a good weekend, all.
Rounding Third and Heading Home,