Some advice from somebody who has been there*…
*disclaimer: the nicest patient told me while in the back of the rescue about the “last one who came,” and how she made the her feel small, and worthless, and worse than before she called. And here I thought we were supposed to make people feel better. Silly me.
You can figure out what you’re doing, and show up with a store of knowledge that can actually help somebody in a crisis. Basic stuff. Give them some oxygen. Recognize CHF from an asthma attack. Stop the bleeding. Carry diaphoretic people who are clutching their chest down the damn stairs.
You can treat people with respect, whether they deserve it or not. Make no mistake, not everybody deserves it. But by disrespecting them, you are disrespecting us, the rest of the people who show up every day, put on the uniform and do the job.
You can listen to people. Especially family members who happen to love the person you were called to help. You don’t know a person’s history. You don’t know about their addictions, prior heart surgeries, stents, fistulas or anxiety levels. You don’t know a thing about them. So listen while you observe, and treat the patient to the best of your ability, always leaving room for adjustments. Because if you can’t treat a person as an individual, you may as well plant yourself in front of a book or computer screen and read about those of us who can.
You can stop acting like god’s gift to the medical community. Nursing home nurses operate in an environment far different from ours. Ridiculing them because they didn’t start an IV the correct size, or start an Albuterol treatment makes you look like an idiot, and I really don’t care if that’s the way you operate, but you make me look like an idiot as well.
You can drive the rescue, or ambulance efficiently, intelligently and safely. Blaring the horns and sirens and driving like a maniac just because you can is no reason to do so. People react differently to stress. Give them a second to move, you will be amazed at how many do so. Scaring the hell out of them causes nothing but problems.
And remember, you represent all of us every time you answer the call. Act like a professional and you will be treated accordingly.
And so will the rest of us.