Sunday, July 12, 2009

First Shift Back and Crappy Environments

My first shift on the ambulance in 3.5 months was much easier than I expected. I was a bit anxious that I'd be rusty but it's like falling off a bike. No problemo! That's when I realized that I've spent for more time on an ambulance than off. I've been working full-time and OT/second EMS jobs for 16 years so 3.5 months wasn't nearly enough time to lose my edge; fortunately.

Luck was even on my side! My partner and I responded to a minor assault call in our district. During that same time the neighboring unit responded to another call in our district which turned out to be a cardiac arrest. Working an arrest is lots of sweaty hard work, drug calculations and a high level of skill all combined. And the majority of cardiac arrest patients are unable to be revived - so lots of work with usually very little return.

My partner and I cleared our call and decided to stop by with the other unit to help since they were near by and I got to meet a new young, female medic that was hired during my absence. She was very nervous since she was attempting to obtain an airway for the patient (which can be difficult and is the "star attraction" during a cardiac arrest) and her partner was one of our most veteran medics who is known for not being supportive of rookies (especially female rookies). His obvious lack of support and her being the center of attention was making her so nervous that her technique was off and she was unsuccessful.

As I witnessed this I attempted to offer my own support and give her calm, clear advice (which earned me a look of contempt from the senior medic) and she attempted to follow the advice but unfortunately the environment was too far gone and nothing I could do or say ended up helping. The senior medic in charge of the cardiac arrest finished the airway successfully and they left for the hospital.

EMS is a naturally stressful job and senior medics always challenge and harass rookies which seems harsh but is necessary to a degree because the entire team needs to know what the rookie's breaking is and if they can handle themselves confidently in real life stressful situations. However, I've always felt that along with the good-natured harassment there needs to be a mentally and emotionally supportive atmosphere for all rookies. But there will always be those medics that have no patience for rookies even though we were all rookies once upon a time.

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