As a paramedic it is important to always think before you act. Even just a couple seconds of sizing up a scene before you start work can make a big difference to both the outcomes for the patient/s and your own longevity.
A few years ago I attended what I thought was a simple cardiac arrest. I was called to a 40 year old male who appeared blue and was not breathing. I rushed in and was ready to start doing CPR. In my head I had run through our cardiac arrest protocols and reviewed the drug regime in my mind.
As I came through the door my partner stopped me with a sudden thud. He had seen something that I had not.
He had seen the wires attached to the 240volt power point and followed over to the unconscious person laying motionless on the bed. There was a strange smell in the room, almost like cooked steak.
It turned out – this person had intentionally killed himself by attaching copper wires to his body, and then through a fish tank timer and finally to a 240 volt power socket, so that as the timer ticked over, the 240 volts of electricity flowed through his head and chest and killed him.
Had I run up and started CPR as I had intended to do, I would have been electrocuted.
That day changed my view of running to an emergency for the rest of my career as a paramedic. It doesn’t mean that I wonder, or dawdle on my way to an emergency, it just means that I stop, think about the scene and then proceed. You don’t need long, just a pause, and with experience, your instincts (built on experience) will tell you when something isn’t right.
1. Always give yourself an extra few seconds pause before you run into anything – especially when its an emergency and your adrenaline rush may get ahead of you, or blind you from obvious dangers.
2. Remember, your safety and your partner’s safety will always be more important than any patient you attend (no matter how sick they may appear).