What do you do when one of your young EMTs goes home with a sore back after a first responder fumbles while helping him carry a patient down a flight of stairs?
You're busy. The EMT's supervisor has already investigated the incident. Payroll's due, your boss expects the budget from you any day now, you need to tabulate your fleet mileages, and you have a CE to plan. Anyway, you don't really even know the guy that well.
Answer: Call him. In fact, do that several times during the next week. Your agency may be able to work around his injury, but that isn't so easy for an EMT—financially or in any other way. Consult the supervisor and learn as much about the injury as you can. But don't let your call be about the schedule or how the injury occurred. You can learn all that tomorrow or the next day.
Instead, make this call a welfare check. Find out how this fellow's doing, if he needs transportation or medicine, and how he feels. Learn as much as you can about what this incident is going to do to him financially. Maybe there's a way for you and your people to donate some vacation pay to his account.
Make sure he doesn't get stuck in a paper shuffle that's supposed to be supporting him. Do what you can to answer his questions about the possibility of light duty, back-to-work scheduling and so on. If there's stuff you can do to facilitate his communications with Human Resources, do that as well. Some HR people get so embroiled in paperwork they don't seem to get that human part, so they're anything but resources.
At the very least, remind your EMT that he's an important part of your organization, and let him know his absence matters to you. He could be somebody's boss 10 years down the road. He could be yours.
In fact, that might be just one of the little things he does.
Thom Dick has been involved in EMS for 40 years, 23 of them as a full-time EMT and paramedic in San Diego County. He is the quality care coordinator for Platte Valley Ambulance Service, a community-owned, hospital-based 9-1-1 provider in Brighton, CO. Thom is also a member of the EMS World editorial advisory board. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.