Posts Tagged ‘medical’


Paramedics and EMTs were drawn to EMS for various reasons.  Obviously there is the excitement, the variety, and the opportunities to help people.  EMS workers are usually lumped in with the other helping professions: Physicians, Nurses, Firefighters, and even Police Officers.  In fact, when you talk to any of these folks, you’ll find the overwhelming majority are motivated to help people.

Something has changed in the last 30 years, and I’ve been trying to put my finger on it.  My first experiences in emergency services were with organizations that truly sought to help people in need.  Whether working for a government agency, or a for-profit ambulance company, there seemed to be a push to help people.

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CPR training

Image via Wikipedia

As I walked into the bedroom, it looked like there was more drama than necessary – more than I cared to deal with on this laconic Thanksgiving Day.  Our 55-year-old female patient was sitting on the floor, propped against her bed.  She was breathing fast and her CO2 levels were down – it looked like an anxiety attack, so I squatted down and tried to convince/coach her to slow her breathing down.  But something didn’t look right.

She was trying to cooperate with me, but there was no way her breathing was slowing down.  It was fast, about 40 respirations a minute, and deep.  Her eyes were closed and I discovered she had some chest pain – which she was unable to describe.  In fact, all of her concentration went into her breathing and I, as with the other medics in the room, were just a distraction.

It was at this point that I got very concerned.

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We can’t keep doing things the way we’ve always done them, or we’ll keep getting the same results over and over again.  That’s called insanity.  We have to keep moving forward.

I ran my first EMS call in the early 70s.  I’ve been involved in this profession since I was a teenage, snot-nosed, kid.  Those early days of EMS were incredible.  CPR, Hurst Tools, Advanced Life Support, and even the 9-1-1 system brought radical life-saving to the prehospital setting.  But now I have to ask, what have you done for me lately?

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Don´t shoot me in the face.I think one of my biggest frustrations is when people fail to see the bigger picture.  When a system plays out, just the way it is designed to operate, why do we blame the people who are merely actors in the process?  Why do we shoot the messengers?

For example, there are 30-40 million people in this country without health insurance.  Many of those people are good, respectable individuals who find themselves in a difficult, and possibly temporary, situation.  Others have been raised within a culture of poverty – social, spiritual, cultural, and financial poverty – they don’t know any other way.  It isn’t their fault they are in the situations they find themselves, and they don’t know any other way out.  Why do we blame these victimized people for the using the only system they know?

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