How do paramedics assess a scene? Paramedic work in unique and dynamic environments. Emergencies, by their very nature are often dangerous and do not make very safe working environments or scenes for paramedic.
Paramedics start assessing a scene well before they get to the actual scene. For example, they are gaining information from the emergency call taker who will have asked a pre-developed set of questions designed at identifying as much information about the scene before the paramedics arrive. This is also where the scene safety commences, because the emergency call taker will be telling the patient or the person who has called for an Ambulance information that will make it safer for the paramedics to do their jobs. Information, such as – telling them to turn their lights on at night, turning of power if power lines are down, asking them if someone is being agressive or violent on the scene.
When a paramedic arrives on a scene the first thing that he or she does is assess the scene briefly from the windscreen (while he/she is still in the Ambulance).
The paramedic is looking for risks and important informations, such as:
Where the dangers are on the scene?
Where the best place to park would be, while keeping in mind the need for access and egress?
What other resources do I know now that I will need?
Out of the Ambulance Scene Assessment
Scene assessment continues once out of the Ambulance. Paramedics are constantly assessing their surroundings. What is in front of them and what is behind them?
Remember to look around, look left, look right and don’t forget to look up and down! Many paramedics and EMS personnel have been badly injured on a scene because they failed to look up and see the power lines that had fallen down during a motor vehicle crash.
Lessons Learned in Scene Assessment:
These are the most valuable lessons that I have learned in more than 12 years as a paramedic about scene assessment:
1. Get as much information about the scene that you’re attending before you even get there. If there has been reports of a motor vehicle into a power pole, ask if anyone can confirm that there are fallen power lines or not. If you have been called to a gun shot wound, ask about the perpetrator – is he or she still on the scene? What about the Police, have they arrived yet?
2. As you arrive at the scene, approach slowly and have a good look (this means both paramedics, not just the driver). Look out, around and don’t forget about looking up for power lines or things that may fall.
3. If you’re not confident that the scene is safe, get out of there and get help. Let the casualties know not to move and that you’re going to get help.