Monday, November 21, 2011

Who Put the Pepper in the Pot?

Wow. No hits yesterday. Zero. I guess I'm talking to myself here.
I'm still 21 for 21 for the NaBloPoMo attempt to write every day. We'll see if the habit sticks.

Now for the actual post of the day...

Current events being what they are, I'm reminded of some training that I first asked for a while back.

We had a call where, on our arrival, the patient had been pepper sprayed and was handcuffed and on the ground, screaming.

I'm not going to go into detail about how our patent ended up in that predicament partly because I was not there to witness it, and partly because it would take too long to write about all the problems I HAVE witnessed at scenes, including that scene in particular. Let's just say that some people need more training, especially in dealing with anyone considered to have "mental health issues," including training in de-escalation and in just plain not treating people like crap.

So anyhow.
It's cold out, with snow on the ground. The patient is on the ground, barefoot, in shorts and short sleeves, handcuffed, screaming about both pain from the pepper spray, and about being freezing.

At the time, we had very little experience with such a scene.
As in none.
We were in the proverbial "ink not yet dry on the card" position.

We were told by the cops not to treat the patient. We got a blanket anyway, but it was never given to the patient. We were specifically told not to do anything about the pepper spray in order to keep the patient "more compliant."
The transporting ambulance arrived and was told the same thing.

Before we even left the scene, I was asking for training in this topic. Several topics, really. I was very upset about how the patient was treated (and not treated) and had no information at all to go on.

1. How much authority do cops have on scene, if we are called there? Can they keep us from accessing a patient?  They DID, but can they legally do so? The patient was no threat to anyone. What rights does the patient have, and what rights and responsibilities do we have? What can we do? Both for the patient at the time, and in a case of cops overstepping their authority.

2. We have not been taught anything about how to deal with any of the weapons or techniques the cops use to "control" a person. I had to look up what to do about pepper spray (and didn't find anything I could be sure was valid) and we have no protocols at all. What if they had used tasers? What do we need to know about that? What else do they have, or are they trained to do?

As I said at the start, current events being what they are, the need for this training is more urgent.
I wish there was a class where we could go over all the things that might happen to a person who is either resisting arrest, mentally ill, or, apparently these days, peacefully protesting, and what role EMS should or could play in such an event.
My personal perspective is that we should be there to treat any ill or injured person, and I don't really care what someone's politics are.  I would like to know how best to provide that care.

So far, my requests for such training have been ignored.
I don't know that there is anyone out there offering this particular training.
If there is, I'd love to know about it.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Kid!
    Really glad to see you are writing again. This is the first time I've ;looked at an EMS blog in 3 months and I'm trying to catch up on yours (only) tonight.
    Next time we chat if you still need info about treating the pepper spray pt. let me know. I've taken a couple of classes on this including a day at the police academy working with recruits going thru the experience. I've had a couple of these cases myself, and the toughest part is working on someone in handcuffs while a pissed-off Officer leans over your shoulder.
    Be Well,