There is so much "hype" now, especially with all the reality TV shows, that I thought I would make my contribution to this rapidly growing fad by creating the "Ultimate EMS Survival Guide." Okay, okay I don't claim to be a writer, author or even to have good spelling, but as I am fast approaching the early stages "veteran-hood" as a paramedic, I have something to say and darn it I'm going to say it, and whether or not you read on is up to you.
I am jumping head first into my 16th year as a pre-hospital care provider with the confidence of a skilled paramedic and a master's degree in "lessons learned the hard way" from the "University of Hard Knocks." Yet this year I have had an awakening as you might call it, a rebirth of an old, tired medic who has earned the right to whine; yet it was like I woke up one day and finally, yes finally...I got a clue!
Let me back up just a bit and give you a little history. I began my career in EMS sixteen years ago as an EMT for three and a half years and then took the leap into "Para-godness." I have always felt confident in my skills yet something has always held me back from progressing to "boss-hood." Yes, it's called ATTITUDE!!! Boy oh boy, we have all heard that one, haven't we? I could never figure out why medics with less experience were advancing to supervisor positions while I was sitting idly by, yet management was telling me that I was skilled, one of the best in the field. What's up with that anyway? (Do they teach saying just what I want to hear at those management seminars?!)
The last year I've spent diligently working the streets and observing myself and my coworkers, I have come to many conclusions and have answered my own questions - and needless to say I'm a little embarrassed about how I can calculate drip rates at 2:00 a.m. with one eye open, intubate, defibrillate, and talk a drunk out of knocking me and my partner into next week - yet I'm not smart enough to survive the enemy...the management team. Okay, they are not really the enemy, but how many of us see them that way sometimes in our moments of weakness? After all we are tired, sleep deprived, exercise deficient and Big Mac overdosed.
Don't get me wrong, I'm still "Queen Peon." After nine years on the ambulances I gave up on the inclination that I would ever land on easy street and sit behind a desk with the title "O Fearless Leader." Somehow seven years ago, I managed to charm myself through the door and land a fantastic position as a Flight Paramedic. That decision I will never regret, but I still think back about where I went wrong along the way. Finally I think I am starting to "get a clue" and I thought I would offer you my not-so-valuable insight so that you may go through your EMS career and not make the same mistakes that I have - and be a better pre-hospital provider and just as importantly, be a better employee. I have comprised a list of things I found most valuable to accomplish those goals and hopefully after reading them you will find yourself on the fast track to a promotion, to leadership and more importantly to being a better EMT or Paramedic for those that you serve.
Remember the old saying, "Don't get emotionally involved with your patients?" Well, bull! I have tried that and it doesn't work. All that makes you is a hard, callous EMT/Medic who doesn't care about anyone but yourself. It makes you abrasive. Over the years I've started letting down my guard and putting myself in the patient's shoes, feeling their pain so to speak. After all we are not superhuman.
A patient senses whether or not you feel empathy for their situation or if you just want to practice a cool invasive skill on them. They want to feel like they are important to you, not as a subject but as a person. It gives you closure, an ending to a tragic story. So what's wrong with meeting their family, or holding their hand, checking up on them later or even shedding a tear? Don't forget in your career to laugh, to feel, or to cry if necessary. It doesn't make you weak, it makes you human! Just remember as with anything, not to take it to extremes. It's all about having balance in our lives and not being an unemotional robot or blubbering at the drop of a hat.