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BE AWARE OF STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES
In any system, particularly volunteer systems, there are newbies; strong
EMTs; EMTs who can’t yet take the lead on calls; and trainees who
are there to observe and learn.
You need to know who can lift, who can’t, who has a back problem,
who can’t tolerate an SCBA mask, who’s allergic to cats (in case the
patient has 10 of them in their home) and who gets motion sickness
on long rides to a hospital in the confines of the patient compartment.
You then have to work with and mentor them all in a different manner. If you don’t, your stress level will increase and your effectiveness
as a team will decrease.
BE READY & EAGER TO WORK
Whenever I asked Bernie if he was “ready to go to work,” he took on
a new persona and went into work mode: Focused and professional in
all respects. There was no playing or wandering.
You and your partner need to set the tone by arriving at work early,
neatly dressed, and doing a proper debriefing with the crew that had
your rig and response area the previous shift. It not only tells them you’re
eager to go to work, it also shows that you’re eager to learn if there were
any vehicle problems, system abusers or zones/streets/addresses that
you need to watch out for.
TEACH YOUR PARTNERS
Your shifts will go more smoothly if you inject a little knowledge.
Update or review a few clinical or operational tidbits with your partner or crew members.
For example, “Hey, did you hear about the positive results ‘A’ shift
LEAD BY EXAMPLE
is having since we started using mechanical compression devices and
head-up CPR? It’s really working.”
Or, on the way to a call at a known address, say: “I know this patient
and she gets really upset if you talk down to her or invade her space.”
EMS is a craft. You can teach your partners and associates how to master the craft when you lead by example. Many providers fail to realize
or accept that we’re social workers and ambassadors. If you hold the
hand of someone’s dying grandmother, or talk softly and sincerely to a
frightened child, you’ll find that your partners will see the benefits to
your approaches and use them in the future.
FOLLOW PROTOCOLS & SOPS
Partners not only know their protocols and SOPs, but orchestrate and
perform them in the proper order. In the old days, when calcium chloride was the last drug in my cardiac arrest protocol (used when all the
other drugs and therapy was exhausted), I had all the fire and police
first responders trained to go get the litter because we were done on
scene and ready to move. As soon as they heard the words “calcium
chloride,” they immediately knew how to react.
And, for processes to be effective, they need to be followed. Ignoring the delivery of consistent compressions during a code in favor or
administering epi or placing an ET tube has been shown to reduce our
effectiveness in resuscitating patients.
So, if you have a partner who won’t follow your lead or your agency’s protocols, and insists on doing it “the old way,” you need to have a
polite, professional one-on-one with them to explain the new way and