Thursday, January 3, 2008

The High....

I have had lots of different experiences in my life, lots of different highs. From smoking pot in high school, to jumping out of a perfectly good airplane at 15,000 feet, to scuba diving, white water rafting and rock climbing. Other than my son being born, I would have to say one of the biggest highs I've ever had is simply being a Paramedic.

I think that is probably the biggest reason that we all get into this line of work and stay for any length of time. Sure, you can tell people that it's helping people, but all of us love to race down the road to some trauma that sounds nice and juicy. We are all adrenaline junkies at heart.

But the other side of that is just the job, the ability to actually reach people. The other day was just another day. I was working, as usual, with an EMT. He was just about done with his Paramedic, but other than clinicals, he had no experience above a Basic EMT. But he is the type that I love to work with. He likes asking questions and actually welcomes constructive criticism.

I've found that I love to teach. I don't know a whole lot, but what little I do know, I like to pass on to those that actually want to learn. I love it when the student gets this look during our conversation. You know that look, the one where you can almost see the neurons firing inside his head and the light bulb burning brightly.

The other part of the job is just being nice to people and seeing their response. I had two ALS patients last shift. One was a difficulty breathing and the other was chest pain. Both were elderly and had extensive history. Both were terrified of what was happening to them. With kind words and gentle touch, I think I eased their fears just a little. Or maybe it was just my imagination. But both patients seemed more comfortable and relaxed. I always pat a shoulder or shake a hand and tell them I hope they feel better soon and that they are in good hands as I leave them in the ED. I got what seemed like sincere thank you's from both of those patients.

As I left the ED from both patients I had a spring in my step and I felt good. I've read that it costs nothing to be nice and that you get out of something what you put in. I believe it. It was also an excellent teaching experience as I found out later. The EMT I was working with is part-time so he works with many different medics. He commented on my hospitality towards my patients and told me horror stories that we've all heard on how some medics treat their patients.

I told him my philosophy on attitude in EMS:

Always be good to the first responders. They are, for the most part all volunteers, so at 3 in the morning, when the blood pressure that they give you is completely wrong, don't berate them for it. Just take it in stride and thank them. If one of them is in your way, be nice and ask, don't tell, him/her to please step aside, and always listen to what they have to say. Just as our patients are different when we roll them into the ED, sometimes the patient was different when they arrived as to when we arrive. You never know when you are gonna need their help, so don't piss them off and always say thank you for whatever help you do get. Even if they didn't do anything more than just show up.

Always be good to your patients. It is their emergency, no matter how mundane it seems to you. They felt is was bad enough to call 911, so it is worth your time to be there. You are getting paid to do a job, not brow-beat people for their decisions.

Always be nice to the nurses, at all the facilities and the ED. This is something that I have figured out recently. Most people in EMS hate nursing homes. I have no love for the places myself, but the people that work their are not all lazy and ignorant. Someone has to do the job, and I sure as hell wouldn't want it. I've realized that if you give them your attention and listen to whatever it is that they have to say, they remember you and eventually you'll start to get better reports and have plenty of help when you need it. And again, always say thank you for whatever help you get.

Always be nice to the dispatchers. I hear people giving them hell all the time for wrong addresses and cross-streets and wrong dispatch information. This is another job that I wouldn't want, but someone has to do it. Just be nice and take it in stride. These people can always find a way to make your life a living hell if you piss them off.

So the words are, be nice. Eventually it will all pay off in the end and it will make your life and your shift much easier. I've read EMS books about this type of subject and I've seen a few medics that live and work this way. I learned from them and I try to teach that to the ones that I can. That is my high...



Medic 61 said...

I get so much hell from people I work with for being kind to the aforementioned others. But my mother always taught me that you need to be nice to everyone--from principals to maintenance staff, they can all help you, but will only want to if you are nice to begin with (she's a teacher).
It's really good to read that somebody else feels the same way I do.
Keep 'em coming, BRM--love reading what you have to offer!

Ambulance Driver said...

You may be a rookie medic...

...but you're becoming a pretty wise one.

Jamie said...

Recently found your blog and I love it. Let me tell you, you got the right attitude. As a combat veteran of the ED, ICU, an all points north, south east and west in ye old hospital, you would go a long way with me! a TX RN

by: PM, SN said...

Reading stuff like this totally has me wanting to take a paramedic course after I finish RN school.

Something I found in researching clinical education and intraprofessional violence links neatly back to what you're saying. One of the articles was called "extending the synergy model to preceptorship", it appeared in Critical Care Nurse in April of 2006.

The main idea in it seemed to be the suggestion that there's an advantage to employing the same professionalism and thoroughness to co-worker / student / mentor relationships that are supposed to exist in our relationships with the clients.

Rather than treating clients one way and other members of the health care team another way, this editorial suggests that patient care AND intra/inter-professional relationships can be informed by each other and improved. The focus was mainly on training junior faculty, that one's ability to train junior faculty and one's ability to provide teaching to clients can both benefit from a unified approach. I dunno, seemed interesting to me.

I think you can read it at, the editorial is by Grif Alspach, RN, MSN, EdD.