The Podcast

Podcast Episode 17: The Medicast

Posted by on Sep 9, 2014

We took the week off last weeks or Labor Day and this week the podcast is back with a short interview that I did on Jamie Davis’ The Medicast where we talk about the show and what it is all about.  Regular shows will be back next week!  Enjoy! To download the show in MP3 format, follow this link!  Otherwise check the show out below:     Share...

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For Leadership

Posted by on Mar 14, 2016

As the days tick past American Medical Response draws closer to going “live” with their new public/private partnership with the District of Columbia Fire and EMS Department.  After a story posted earlier this week about a traumatic cardiac arrest that sat for close to 30 minutes without a transporting unit being available, it is clear that the time is now for something to change in the nation’s capital. The coming months are going to be very telling for the future of EMS not only in DC but throughout the country.  From a personal stand point, I am very excited to see in what direction everything goes.  There is a lot of influence in the AMR DC operation from my old stomping grounds in Springfield, Massachusetts.  Their Operations Manager, a guy by the name of Mark Nuessle, was one of my first supervisors when I hit the streets back in 2000.  About a half a dozen people who are being brought in from around the country to help with the hiring and training process of close to 200 new employees have some...

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For the Field

Posted by on Mar 28, 2016

My name is Scott, and I’ve made mistakes. There. I said it. The medical world is one where we strive for perfection. That seems to be multiplied ten fold in the world of EMS. We expect ourselves to be perfect. We expect ourselves to be better than nurses and sometimes doctors as we stand back and watch residents and attendings make mistakes that we feel we are immune to making. We can point them out or cite the newest evidence but for some reason when it comes to our own industry, we are prohibited from pointing out those same mistakes. Some think that in the absence of protocol or knowledge, a good ol’ diesel bolus is the answer and should continue to be the answer when reeducation and more training would be far more appropriate. “Do no harm” is significantly different from “no harm was done” and we need to realize that. Just because nothing bad happened does not mean that something good happened. The key to success in this field is learning from the things that don’t quite go as...

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Lessons to Learn

Posted by on Mar 10, 2016

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  -Benjamin Franklin Throughout my career, I have been to maybe eight or nine critical incident stress debriefings.  I attended my first one when I was 17 years old after caring for a man who self-immolated as a means to take his own life.  Without getting into the details of this confidential event, the outcome for my family, who was on the call with me, and I was a long standing bond with the dispatchers in attendance.  About once a month for many years following, we used to take coffee and donuts down to the dispatch center to catch up with our new friends. I have always been a person who encouraged everyone involved to attend CISM’s, and I think I have spoken about that here before.  To those who have said, “I am not going to get anything out of it” I am quick to remind them that it’s not all about them.  Sometimes the best thing that we can do is offer something in our own personal experiences to someone...

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Recent Posts

The Diesel Bolus

My name is Scott, and I’ve made mistakes. There. I said it. The medical world is one where we strive for perfection. That seems to be multiplied ten fold in the world of EMS. We expect ourselves to be perfect. We expect ourselves to be better than nurses and sometimes doctors as we stand back and watch residents and attendings make mistakes that we feel we are immune to making. We can point them out or cite the newest evidence but for some reason when it comes to our own industry, we are prohibited from pointing out those same mistakes. Some think that in the absence of protocol or knowledge, a good ol’ diesel bolus is the answer and should continue to be the answer when reeducation and more training would be far more appropriate. “Do no harm” is significantly different from “no harm was done” and we need to realize that. Just because nothing bad happened does not mean that something good happened. The key to success in this field is learning from the things that don’t quite go as well as they should have. When I hit the streets fifteen and a half years ago I was terrified. I made a lot of mistakes, and when things were not going well my partner’s foot had better be getting heavy. Through the course of my career, I have grown and I’d like to think today that I’m a better paramedic. In all of the intricacies of medicine that I learned, and all of the journal articles I have read the biggest lesson that I have learned is humility and the ability to admit when I was wrong. When things do not go well, the first question that I ask myself, or someone who takes my patient over is “what could I have done better?” how could I have improved my patient’s outcome? Which brings me to my ultimate point in this post. The internet has been on fire lately after a Virginia volunteer fire department was cited for transporting a pediatric seizure patient in the cab of the fire engine instead of providing care and assessment and waiting for a responding ambulance to...

System Abuse

Over the years some great ideas to change how we care for our patients have come from street level providers and their day to day encounters and insight to the challenges that they face.  Others, however, either fall flat on their collective faces or are proven at a larger scale with the use of evidence to be ineffective.  One of the most frequent discussions that comes up on many EMS related internet destinations is the effects of system abuse on our industry.  Some feel that it is the crippling factor that renders urban systems ineffective however I disagree.  While I do not dispute the presence of system abuse, and while these calls might stand out as being memorable, I think that it is less of an issue than we make it out to be in our own heads. But how show we deal with it?  One popular internet author suggested that something needed to be done, but has not present a plausible example of what that should be.  When the concept of increased education for providers to be trained to make non-transport decisions or recommendations for alternative ways of entering a patient into the health care system, he went as far as to state that I was being “negligent” for advocating for more education for EMTs and paramedics because he felt that this was refusing to address the problem.  While he can try and hang his hat on the anecdotal experiences of his career, I will instead choose to rely on evidence which tells a different story. How can we expect EMTs and paramedics to perform assessments and make treatment decisions when our training tells us to stabilize to the best of our ability and deliver a patient to definitive care?  Giving EMS providers the blessing to deny transport or to recommend alternative destinations or treatment options is something that we have received no training to do.  While there are some instances where our assessment can be spot on where we would tell a patient “you don’t need to go to an emergency room, and you certainly do not need an ambulance” this decision making power would need to be universal if granted at...

American Medical Response in DC

As the days tick past American Medical Response draws closer to going “live” with their new public/private partnership with the District of Columbia Fire and EMS Department.  After a story posted earlier this week about a traumatic cardiac arrest that sat for close to 30 minutes without a transporting unit being available, it is clear that the time is now for something to change in the nation’s capital. The coming months are going to be very telling for the future of EMS not only in DC but throughout the country.  From a personal stand point, I am very excited to see in what direction everything goes.  There is a lot of influence in the AMR DC operation from my old stomping grounds in Springfield, Massachusetts.  Their Operations Manager, a guy by the name of Mark Nuessle, was one of my first supervisors when I hit the streets back in 2000.  About a half a dozen people who are being brought in from around the country to help with the hiring and training process of close to 200 new employees have some sort of tie to Springfield as well.  It really speaks volumes about the system that I came from. With the involvement of national resources, I also think that this partnership says a lot about AMR’s ability to strive for success.  Often seen as the biggest of big business in prehospital medicine, when AMR steps up to the plate like they have recently on the east coast, they deserve a lot of credit.  Some critics of private EMS will speak of the “lost jobs” from the closing of companies like Transcare or like Falck’s recent move to pull out of Pennsylvania but AMR has been there to pick up the pieces.  Closures like this do not mean that jobs are going away.  People still have to do the work, it just means that a company with a better ability to operate in today’s health care climate are stepping up to the plate to provide the service.  In fact, AMR is adding close to 200 jobs to the Washington, DC market in particular, and that is a huge step forward for the private sector. I cannot...

An Ounce of Prevention

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  -Benjamin Franklin Throughout my career, I have been to maybe eight or nine critical incident stress debriefings.  I attended my first one when I was 17 years old after caring for a man who self-immolated as a means to take his own life.  Without getting into the details of this confidential event, the outcome for my family, who was on the call with me, and I was a long standing bond with the dispatchers in attendance.  About once a month for many years following, we used to take coffee and donuts down to the dispatch center to catch up with our new friends. I have always been a person who encouraged everyone involved to attend CISM’s, and I think I have spoken about that here before.  To those who have said, “I am not going to get anything out of it” I am quick to remind them that it’s not all about them.  Sometimes the best thing that we can do is offer something in our own personal experiences to someone else in attendance.  Sometimes, knowing that you are not alone is the greatest reassurance that a person can receive which is why I push people to stand together.  I would never mandate anyone to attend a CISM, and neither should anyone else, but I always strongly encourage people to show up. I do think, however, that we rely on CISM a little too heavily as a means to deal with the stress that people in our field shoulder day in and day out.  We sit back and watch people who struggle go to work every day.  We have all watched coworkers whose personal lives are crumbling around them, and have watched those personal issues spill over to their professional lives.  Heck, some of us have been those people.  We sit back and let people deteriorate because we don’t know what else to do.  Until something happens. Until that bad call.  That big call.  CISM is usually tied to major events.   It’s that nasty wreck on the interstate, or that pediatric cardiac arrest that results in a crew begging to take the rest of...

Comfort and Failure

In my post last week about the importance of being comfortable with failure, I mentioned statistics and benchmarking.  Last month, I had a chance to present at my first national conference when I spoke at EMS Today as part of the EMS Compass preconference.  I’ve been involved with the EMS Compass project since November of 2014 and while the process itself has had some growing pains, the mission and goals of the project involve some of the most important things to the future of our industry. For example, it is only with a firm understanding of the role of benchmarking in quality assurance and quality improvement that we will be truly able to compare the impact that we have on patient outcomes.  Understanding the impact of our care and being able to compare it to other systems is how best practices are discovered.  It all comes down to asking a couple of simple questions? WHY? The first question is an easy one, and that is simply why?  If another system is seeing better patient outcomes for their STEMI cases, or if they have a higher ROSC and survival rate for cardiac arrest, you need compare your system to theirs and just ask “WHY?”  Do they have a different set of CPR protocols?  Do they have a more aggressive field pronouncement protocol that steers medics to stay and play instead of taking a load and go approach with their cardiac arrest patients? The easiest way to figure any of this out is to work backwards.  Take the example of ROSC and survival rates.  If another system has a higher survival rate, start with where they are delivering their patients.  Are they using hypothermia for their patients prior to arrival or have they omitted that step at recommendation of the AHA?  Are they part of a completely different system with different protocols that might call for later intubation or a different style of airway management all together?  What about their care in the field differs from the care that you provide? After analyzing the care that takes place on scene, look at who is going to those calls.  Are they sending more help than you are? ...