Sunday, February 26, 2012


Steve over at The EMT Spot wrote an excellent post about 17 Ways to Become an Awesome EMT.

It inspired me to write my own post.

I believe that whatever you do, you should endeavor to do as best you can. Be excellent. Excellence is not a state, it is a process. In order to be excellent, you need to continue to improve.

Here are some thoughts on what that means in EMS.

1. Keep the focus where it belongs: on the patient. This is all about patient care. No matter how much you know, or how good you are at your skills, if you don't provide excellent patient care, you're not doing your job. Excellent patient care goes beyond protocols, it goes beyond techniques. It includes the patient feeling cared for. It includes providing something that improves the condition of your patient, or, in cases where that is not possible, something that helps the patient's family and/or friends.

2. Extend the concept of care to everyone around you. This might mean your partner, your coworkers, the patient's family and friends, bystanders, law enforcement, and so on. Be aware of situations that may affect anyone on scene, and to the extent you can, help things run more smoothly, more easily, etc.

3. Use every call as the jumping off point for your own continuing education. You can and should learn something from every call, every patient contact, every interaction. Some situations will clearly have more to offer, but every incident will have something. Look things up, write things down, and think things over. Look up medications, medical conditions and research. Study human interactions. Learn about de-escalating tension. Pre-plan what to do if you get called back to the same patient in the future. What do you wish you had known more about this time? Know it next time.

4. Likewise, consider every call training for improved functioning as a crew. What went well? What didn't? What needs to change? Is there anyone who did something exceptional? Let them know that. Positive feedback should not only travel one way. Everyone should acknowledge excellence.

5. Seek out teachers and mentors, both formally and informally. If there is someone in your area who is excellent at something, learn from them. Keep up with conferences and other training opportunities, and figure out who the best presenters are. Go where they are whenever possible. Observe other crews you may work with, and learn who you can trust, who knows their stuff, and watch them like a hawk. If someone were to ask you who you'd most like to work with, you should have a lot of answers, of people you respect and trust, who know what they are doing, and who you know can help you improve yourself.

6. Pay attention to detail. Learn to focus on a call, and create your own SOPs for assessments and the overall flow of a call. Practice. Practice more.

7. Expand your knowledge base outside the narrow confines of your certification level. The more you know... the more you know. The more you understand, the easier it is to see patterns, to recognize things that go together- and things that should not. There is an almost infinite amount of information out there, and as similar as they may sometimes seem, every patient is different. Sometimes the differences may be very subtle, and the more you can put together, the more likely you will be to recognize something that can point other practitioners in the right direction sooner.

8. Take everything you learn and APPLY IT. Use your knowledge to make you a better practitioner. Learning produces a change in behavior. If you don't change anything because of what you learned, what good is it? That change may be to be more confident that what you are doing is the best possible thing, or it may be a change in what you are doing. Whatever it is, something should be different.

9. Share your knowledge with someone. Whether formally or informally, share what you know.

10. Back up your people. Learn to be an excellent assistant. On the flipside, let other people you work with know what helps you most, and help them learn to do that. Put time and effort into the relationships you have with your coworkers. Extend that list to everyone you come in contact with from the beginning to the end of your calls. Depending on where you are in the chain of care, that may include different groups of people.

11. Be honest with yourself. Look at your skills objectively, and work on the things you need to improve. It's one thing to find the parts you love and excel at, and dive right in to learn more about them- and that's a good thing. It's another to find the parts of the job you don't care for, or aren't comfortable with, and work to improve those as well. The harder it is to do, the more likely it is that you need to do it. Learn not to shy away from the difficult parts.

Those are my thoughts for this evening.


  1. Good list.
    A propos to many things.
    Thanks for sharing.


  2. I love your list. I may steal some of these when I write the 2013 version. (Properly cross-referenced of course.) Thanks for the inspiration.