The wailing siren of the ambulance signals that it has arrived. The door opens, paramedics spill out with a stretcher and approach the patient. Within minutes, the patient is shifted to the ambulance, administered an IV and hooked up to oxygen support. It is only then while traveling in the ambulance with paramedics do we realize how helpless we are without these emergency healthcare professionals.
Not only presence of mind and the willingness to help, efficient paramedics must also possess these traits that make the ideal emergency healthcare professional.
1. Always alert and on call
When a paramedic signs up for his job, he must be mentally prepared to serve emergencies at all odd hours. He should realize that his duty is a “life-saving” affair and requires utmost attention at all times.
Ideal paramedics are readily available at any time of the day and night and keep themselves alert, awake and prepared to rise to every urgent situation.
2. Iron will
Blood, guts, severed limbs, broken bones- these are often the sights that every paramedic sees as part of his duty on a daily basis.
Ideal paramedics do not flinch from such repulsive sights but gear for action instantly. They should have an iron will and strong stomach to perform their duty even if they encounter unpleasant sights like blood and flesh.
3. Never under stress
Emergencies are crises with utter chaos. Ideal paramedics must cope with highly tense situations and stay nonplussed. They should react calmly as they have the responsibility to reassure the aggrieved kin of the patient.
4. Presence of mind
Years of medical school do not count for a paramedic but a quick presence of mind does. An ideal paramedic must know to quickly recognize the patient’s condition and responds accordingly in the fastest manner. He should know what to do next in the case of a heart attack, a stroke or a major accident with multiple injuries. His quickness to respond in the right manner is the factor which decides whether it is life or death for the patient.
5. Physical fitness
Paramedics are emergency healthcare professionals who have to carry and shift patients in and out of ambulances, wheelchairs and stretchers. Their duty calls for lifting heavy patients, bending, kneeling, pushing and wheeling the stretcher etc. Ambulance paramedics might have to lift up to 70-80 kgs, pull up to 75 kgs and push up to 125 kgs.
This is why the ideal paramedic is always in the pink of health and physically strong.
Paramedics have to work at all times of the day and night and most often alone. The ideal paramedic executes his duty irrespective of whether the other staff cooperate with him. He learns to operate in stringent conditions, even with lack of facilities and provides the best possible assistance including non-emergency ambulance service.
7. Strong interpersonal skills
Relatives of patients are always distraught during emergencies. An ideal paramedic must possess good communication skills to interact with them, explain the patient’s condition, allay their fears and in still confidence in the service rendered.
8. Clinical expertise
A paramedic is definitely not a doctor, but he should be efficient in what he does. As qualified ambulance paramedics, the ideal paramedic should be skilled in
• administering intravenous canulation
• fluid resuscitation,
• advanced airway management
• fracture and spinal injury management
• burns and bleeding control
• critical cardiac life support etc.
Life throws up sudden emergencies which we are ill-prepared to counter with. At such critical junctures, it is the paramedic who acts as the life-saver. Yes, the emergency medical training of paramedics becomes the decisive factor in minimizing the life-risk of the patient.