Perception Is Reality

Perception is Reality
by Adam Thompson, EMT-P

I often write about lessons in professionalism. The content of my ramblings is more often than not, a result of me giving myself advice. Like many other EMTs and medics in our field, I have become numbed by many unwarranted 911 responses. There have been a few posts, authored by yours truly, which advocate a positive attitude towards these calls. They keep us working right? These are the people that pay our salaries right? Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to avoid the stress that these calls provide. Even more-so, it is very difficult to respond emergently, after realizing the mediocracy of the more common chief complaints.


The problem with a response that appears effortless is that it is misconstrued as lacking effort. This is most-likely not the case. We all care about what we do, and we want to work for the best possible outcome of our patients. Please refer to the title of this post. It is true. What our customers see is what they believe. If they feel like the paramedic on scene is giving a lackluster performance while their loved one is suffering, they may end up believing that the EMS crew didn't do all they could. I think most EMS professionals that have been doing this for a while have experienced those family members that truly understood that everything was done to save their loved one, even though they were not revived. Have you ever had a family member feel like you didn't do a good enough job though?


Unfortunately, the media has done a horrible job of painting the picture of what EMS really is. Every time someone was shocked on Baywatch they soon coughed up water and quickly awoke. ER was filled with more doctors than I have ever collectively seen. The show was filled with overly excited emergency personnel. Trauma and Saved showed us some action-packed footage of alcoholics, drug addicts, and med-school drop outs with some the star-of-lifepatches slapped on their arms. Many people have a hard time understanding the difference from Hollywood and reality. They may expect to have one of these adrenaline pumped characters show up diagnose the problem, and give their loved one a precordial thump, ultimately saving them.

Think about how you perceive EMS. Have you ever had to call 911 and utilize service from your own agency? Did you cross your fingers and hope that one of the cretin medics you know didn't show up at your house? Maybe you even looked up the schedule of the responding unit to see who was on shift. What were the things that made you feel the way you do about your fellow coworkers?


This is my lesson for this scatter-brained post. Move quickly but efficiently. Random acts of sporadic movement often lead to accidents. Think about what you are going to do while on the way to the call. Most of you probably already do that, but think about how you can make it look good. No, I am not advocating a dog and pony show. Wait, yes I am. That is exactly what I am doing. Put on a show. Now, within reason of coarse. Do everything you would normally do, but make it look as if you truly do care. Even if you didn't run up to the house and thump the patient's chest, if you exude empathy, your efforts will most-likely be appreciated. Besides a paycheck, I think appreciation is exactly what we are looking for.


Tom B said...

Office Space is one of the great movies of all time!

If you haven't wasted 15-minutes of your life with the Bill Lumbergh soundboard, you need to!

Click HERE.


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Shaggy said...

I agree Tom. Truly one of my favorite movies! My son and I quote Lumbergh all the time: "Yeaaahhh..."

Anyway, nice post Adam. I am with you. When you get that drug seeking welfare recipient or silly person with no insurance calling the ambulance because his tooth aches, and you have been running all day, without a bite to eat, just Look on the bright side.

Adam Thompson, EMT-P said...

Tom, looking at your profile picture here, I have noticed you only have three pieces of flare. Do you want to be known as the person who does the bare minimum?

Shaggy, thanks. Your link is just wrong. Just hilariously wrong. Is it EMS that gives us our sick sense of humor?