I’m fond of saying; “it takes at least one good EMT to keep a Paramedic out of court”. Like most great anecdotes, there is always truth in the words.
Sometimes I see Paramedics talking down to their EMT’s. I also see many EMT’s that are reluctant to speak up during a call to ask a question, or voice a concern. Reluctance to speak out is usually caused by having done so before, and as a result having been made to feel stupid by their Paramedic.
These are signs of inexperienced Paramedics who have let their ego off its leash. A good EMT simply MUST speak out and be heard. A good Paramedic will NEVER speak ill of an EMT who does so, and here’s why.
Most of what Paramedics really do is EMT level. Over 90% of the job is BLS, and most great clinical saves are achieved because of good BLS. Since your EMT is fully trained in over 90% of what you do, their comments or concerns are no less valid then yours. Nobody is so smart they see everything.
Paramedics can also become task focused and might loose track of time or objectivity. A good EMT will remind you of what you need to be awareof. Their comments may call your attention to something you did not notice. I remember one great EMT I worked with for over two years. He would often let me know when I was missing something.
One example is that I would sometimes get kind of tunnel vision when intubating. Bob would always let me know “Hey, you maybe want me to bag him a minute while you prepare to try again?” This was his polite way of letting me know I had lost track of time. He also often picked up on subtle environmental clues to patient behavior like pointing out the spoon and works under the bed, or seeing a psych drug on the kitchen table while I was busy doing an assessment.
My EMT’s extra set of eyes and ears combined with a lot of good commonsense actually kept me alive on one occasion. They must be respected and valued for their skills and abilities. An EMT has an important obligation to speak up when they see something that concerns them. Just like a good ER Nurse will let the ER Doctor know when something they notice may have been missed. It is not an option it is your professional obligation.
If you remain silent, you are not doing your job. Just because you have the misfortune to work with a Moron Medic, does not remove this obligation. He or She will have to get over it, and if they can’t its on them and not you.
Don’t let demeaning comments go unanswered. Pull the Medic aside AFTER the call, and explain that you feel obligated to speak up when you see something that you think might be important. “No matter how dumb you think I am Mr. Medic, I still have to say something. I only hope you can react a little more professionally next time. When you show me a lack of respect in front of a patient, it can easily cause them to be less confident in our care. I don’t want that, and I’m sure you don’t either.”
How the Medic answers this exchange is really not important. What is important is to speak up, and if the Medic has a problem, fine. You still have to do your job, and speaking up is an important part of it.
Paramedics please have a little more patience and grow up. You are not the sole source of righteous truth in the world. Yes, maybe today’s comment or observation by your EMT was off the mark. That does not mean you should demean your partner. The next time, they may see the handgun out before you do. You sure do not want to have “trained” your EMT to remain silent when it matters most, do you?