Emergency Medical Services: 5 Essential Traits for Success

HealthcareAugust 20, 2014

To succeed in emergency medical services, certain traits are invaluable. Paramedics, EMTs and emergency service providers are responsible for the first treatment that a patient receives after they experience their traumatic event. All first responders should have the following attributes, both individually and as a team, to have the greatest chance of success for their patients.

1. Assessment Skills

Arriving on scene and determining what exactly has happened is essential. Reviewing the patient's vital signs, level of consciousness, wound severity and history to determine the likely cause of the incident is what informs proper treatment. A solid paramedic should be able to differentiate between a drug overdose and diabetic shock; they are able to do this through thorough assessment.

2. Teamwork and Cooperation

Emergency Medical Services do not work alone. As a team, they coordinate their efforts with the dispatch service as well as the medical team that will be taking over the care of the patient. Within the team, the EMT and paramedic work together to administer the right medications, stabilize the patient, perform CPR and document the interaction. Even physically transporting the patient needs to be done in partnership.

3. Knowledge and Competence

Once the physical assessment is done, it will be necessary to determine proper treatment. This requires a high level of emergency medical science knowledge and understanding as to what interventions yield the best outcomes for patients. Competently administering these interventions through the skilled insertion of an IV or successful intubation, for example, is also essential. Every member of the emergency services team should have a baseline knowledge of the situation so that the group can support one another effectively in the administration of treatment.

4. Physical Fitness

There is a certain degree of physical ability that each member of the EMS team should have. Patients are completely immobilized and need to be transported by team lifting. Shifts are lengthy (normally scheduled to be 12 hours in duration) and EMS team members are expected to perform that entire time, if need be. Additionally, there is no way to anticipate what will be required of the EMT next. It may be climbing, stooping, running or performing CPR, each of which can be physically exerting. The physical ability to do what is necessary in each specific situation is indispensable in the EMS.

5. Emotional Intelligence and Resilience

A paramedic will likely interact with patients and their families in highly emotional situations. The ability to take charge of a scene, calm frantic onlookers and inspire confidence in patients is a valuable skill. The entire emergency medical services team should strive to be professional and caring towards the public. Additionally, witnessing trauma can take an emotional toll on the EMS team members themselves, so being emotionally resilient and able to perform when others might break down is a requirement. Any successful team will be able to engage in emotional self-care, after the dust has settled, to stave off any possible negative psychological effects.

Emergency Medical Services can make the difference between life and death. A highly skilled and able team should perform with professionalism, accuracy and commitment always in mind.

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