As a new EMT you will be faced with a variety of challenges out in the field. One of the biggest ones is recognizing that the “real world” is different than the classroom…in nearly every way. Sights, smells, sounds, patients, illnesses, trauma…did I mention smells? They are all different. That contrast will result in mistakes being made by the new EMT. Here are 3 of the most common and how to avoid/fix them:
1. Treat the Patient
Treat the Patient: Too many times, new EMTs wait for vitals or talk to bystanders/family members when in reality they should really concentrate on the patient and their needs. This obviously is a bit of a moot point for unconscious/deceased patients, but even then direct your attention on the patient first and multi-task to get the information you need to make quality decisions.
2. Patient Questioning
In most EMT classes, SAMPLE is taught as the standard for peeling back the layers of a patient’s issue. The substance of SAMPLE is great, but the teaching of it in that order just to maintain an easy to remember acronym only to later find out that is not the order of questions to establish relationship or gain knowledge is frustrating at best. At FIRE Tech Academy we teach the same questions in the following order…SPEMLA. The acronym
isn’t as sexy, but as I get further into my career and see more patients, I realize that asking about any drug allergies (A) is a strange and most often useless question for the problem at hand. Symptoms, Past pertinent history, and Events leading up to the issue will set the stage for treatment, further questioning, upgrades, and/or transport decisions.
3. Names Matter
Names Matter: One of the greatest tools we walk into an emergency scene with is “confident competence”. We need to believe that by being excellent at our skills, we can help make that patient’s day better. Expressing that to the patient will fly out the window if you do not establish what I like to call the “15 minute relationship”. That starts with learning the patient’s name and using it when you are discussing their care. If you are historically not good with names, come up with a system to remember that works for you. One that works for me is utilizing the name quite a few times in the first few minutes of contact.
For example, “Mr. Smith…please explain when this started.”. “Just so I understand this completely, Mr. Smith, you were mowing the lawn and your chest started hurting?”. “I am sorry that you are feeling this way today, Mr. Smith. Let’s talk about some options for your care.”. It is difficult to forget the name when you look at the patient and use the name frequently.
As a new EMT…
You WILL make mistakes. It is inevitable. Above all else, make sure you error on the side of patient care, learn from your missteps, and ask questions.
- FF/EO Jack Greaves, Executive Director and Instructor at FIRE Tech Academy