Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Seven Lessons Learned from Ambulance Ride Alongs

I am on EMS this month as part of my residency training. This includes time with police, firefighters, 911 operators, and ambulance crews. Today, you will gain from my experiences with hanging out with an AMR ambulance team.

1. Be nice to the EMTs/Paramedics. They determine who comes to your ER. Typically, patients can request which hospital to go to. However, if a patient is clueless about where they want to go, the ambulance crew will decide for them. Otherwise, they will bring all indigent vomiting/diarrhea patients to you.

2. Listen to EMS providers. Sometimes the ride to the hospital takes a while, and there is a paramedic in the back talking to the patient for a solid 15-30 minutes. They ask a lot of questions and can give you a significant amount of history.

3. Teach an EMT/Paramedic something each time you meet one. A lot of these guys/gals are eager to learn. Because they are truly the "front-line" they can help you with diagnosing critical situations.

4. Give free food. It's tough being out on the road. EMS providers don't get as many perks as police officers or firefighters, but definitely deserve props for the work they do in the community. In my opinion, they are truly unrecognized heroes.

5. Help them access a place to sit for paperwork. Documentation is a necessary evil in the practice of medicine. It's much easier to sit in a non-moving site to finish up charting on paper and computer.

6. Give them feedback. If you see an EMS provider and recall a patient they brought in previously, tell them about what happened during the ER stay. A lot of paramedics and EMTs remain in the dark about the ultimate outcome of the patient they bring in.

7. Don't sweat IV access. It's challenging to get an IV on patients, and even more difficult in the back of a vehicle bouncing along the roads. If they don't get an IV, please give them a little slack.

Overall, we have to respect them. Listen and teach. They have a lot of information to give and are willing to learn.


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