I'm always interested in different ways to learn more about what I'm doing. Some of those ways come from interesting places. This post is the first of several I'm planning to write about different ways I've found to expand my learning opportunities.
The first week of EMT class, our instructor suggested we get a scanner and start listening to radio reports.
So we did.
It was definitely interesting.
We learned a lot.
Some of it even about EMS. :-)
We learned that the cops deal with some mighty weird situations some days.
We learned that when it rains, it pours. Somehow, the entire county will erupt with call after call in a row. Everyone gets busy at almost the same time. Odd.
We listened to arrival reports and size-ups.
We listened to people call for additional resources.
We listened to some departments go to a second and then third activation because they simply don't have people around during the day.
We heard some incident commanders lose their cool and start to panic.
Heard others sound as solid as a rock, even during situations that would throw most people.
And we heard a lot of medics and EMTs giving their report to the hospital.
Through this last, we learned the rhythm of those reports. What order does the information go in? What details are included? Which medics give excellent, organized reports, and what qualifies them in that category? Whose reports are hard to follow, and why? We heard some new ambulance employees go from hesitant and nearly stuttering, to smooth, clear and concise as they learned the ropes.
And we practiced giving our own reports. Learned to organize information.
Even though we very rarely have the opportunity to give an actual radio report, we transfer patient care all the time- and it's pretty much the same thing.
The first time I ever gave a radio report, during ride time for my EMT-I class, I had no trouble with it. I had already been practicing for years.
And then... the county changed radio systems. Went digital.
No more scanner.
We could buy a new scanner, I suppose... if we had the $$. The digital trunking scanners are significantly more expensive!
Then we discovered that you can listen to most emergency radio in the country online, for free.
We can't get the hospital reports anymore, which sucks. They were definitely the most useful for us.
But we can get fireground or emergency incident audio from almost anywhere. Not just locally.
If we hear of a major incident, we'll listen in.
Heard a lot of that gas line explosion out in San Bruno CA. Very interesting. Excellent example of setting up ICS.
There are also online opportunities to listen to audio after the fact for a variety of incidents, especially any Maydays.
So even though we can't use the scanner the way we originally did, there is still plenty of opportunity for us to listen in on the radio as a learning exercise.
Good radio protocols and habits are nearly universal.
Plan what you are going to say.
Deliver the information clearly, calmly, and in an organized fashion.
Stay off the radio unless what you need to say is important.
And I'm willing to bet that the people who are good at it have practiced a lot.
Just this morning we listened in on an incident near here.
An MCI, meaning more patients than the responding unit had resources for. By several times over.
The IC- and I wish I knew who it was- was WONDERFUL.
Called for additional resources right away, clearly and definitively. Who he wanted, what he wanted from them, and where he wanted them to go. Called for a mutual aid department's heavy rescue for extrication. Called for a helicopter and a crew to set up the LZ. Gave an arrival report, including triage information. Called mutual aid in to cover the stations he emptied out. All without skipping a beat.
I'm hoping the county instructors get a copy of it to use for training.
We rarely need to call the hospital... but we talk to dispatch frequently. If we're first on scene at an MCI, you can bet being able to manage resources will be important. And the thing about MCIs is that you can never predict where or what they might be. All sorts of things can happen anywhere.
Even way out here.
Just ask Clarence Center NY. Population 1,747 in the 2000 census. Think they expected to have a plane crash?
Or how about all the places that have had tour bus crashes lately? Think they were expecting them?
It's also worth considering that for an incident to be an MCI for us, it doesn't have to be very many patients. We'd be maxed out at two, most days.
I'm glad we heard that incident this morning, and that the IC was such a great example for us to learn from.
We welcome all the help we can get.