• When every second does count…

    by Jess Morton. Last modified: 15/04/14



    Never underestimate the impact you have….

    Whilst on clinical placement, I attended a callout to a 101yo lady post-fall. She had quite a significant laceration to her forearm, which was exposing muscle, and possibly bone. She was 41kg, frail & stoic. Her resilience astounded the three of us.

    The crew I worked with that day treated her like their own grandmother. They were not condescending to her, nor did they speak over the top of her to the family.

    They did not rush the scene time or the patient.

    Everything was done cautiously to protect her from more unnecessary pain and to minimise the inevitable anxiety that our very weak & elderly patients feel about attending Emergency.

    It appears to be a common sentiment that I have heard from many paramedics that ‘we are with our patients for too short a period of time to make any real difference to their lives or overall experience of healthcare’.

    This is simply not true.

    Your cautious driving to aide in nursing the broken bones may not seem appreciated.

    They may not have even recognized the cannula you got into their dehydrated vein first go.

    Your patients may not always remember your face or your name.

    But what they won’t forget about their short time with you, is how you walked in, brought yourself to their eye level & said #Hellomynameis…

    They will remember when you look them in the eye, gently squeeze their hand & reassure them that you are there to look after them.

    The extra blanket when they are cold, and the empathetic smile is what will make the difference.

    I have heard instances of paramedics taking the time

    • To wash dishes for an elderly woman before leaving her husband at home in her care
    • Stopping to buy a Valentines Day card for a man who was being transported to palliative care to give his wife.
    • Making a cup of tea for patients (or relatives)
    • Running around to find the cat to lock away so that the patient could relax in the ED… I know some who have even fed the dog.
    • One beautiful case of going the extra mile, but really only taking a few footsteps was illustrated by @TheNursePath in this story. This could have just as easily been done by a paramedic if the case had gone that way.

    Whilst waiting for a bed in Emergency that evening, I talked to the daughter about her Mums’ life history. She relayed the story of her Mums’ arduous immigration from Canada. This woman who lay infront of me had contributed to her community for over 85years of her life.

    I went back and saw her several times that night. I helped the consultant take down her dressing and cleaned up the rubbish afterwards. I made the tearful daughter a cup of tea & sat with her a while whilst her Mum slept.

    The next day, I went to visit her on the ward.

    As I walked into the room, both her daughter and herself looked up & smiled at me. They didn’t remember my name, but they remembered who I was and the role I had played the day before.

    You may only spend anywhere between 15 minutes to 1 hour with your patient. You may dismiss your role as purely treat & transport.

    But it is not.

    As your patient, their family & friends and other community bystanders continue to process the event, your actions & manner will be what is remembered and will count for everything.

    As a student, I observe intently your actions, how you speak, the body language you display and the attitudes you hold.

    You may think you are just teaching your student paramedic clinical skills & patient assessment, but all of the above may ultimately shape the type of paramedic your student becomes.

    Be amazing, be unforgettable and teach your student Paramedics to make the little things count…

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    Jess Morton

    Jess Morton

    Student Paramedic.
    I am an Australian undergraduate Student Paramedic. I study part-time as I am also Mum to 2 beautiful boys. I am passionate about Friendship, Family & #FOAMed. I am keen to get more experienced as well as student Paramedics into the FOAM world to enable better access to education to result in better patient care. My interests include photography, thick shakes and sleeping in past 6am.

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    One thought on “When every second does count…

    • As a student you are in a unique position of fresh eyes, students encourage me to be a better, smarter, clinical mentor and paramedic. They question, patients often don’t mind becoming the center of a lesson and enjoy the extra help often. Locking doors and collecting mail are just some of the things I do day to day, in the past I have arranged pet care, paid an electricity bill and put dinner in the slowcooker. High speed clinical care is our core business. BEST patient care is our prime directive, this includes allaying fear and anxiety and removing social issues (eg elderly gentleman not having dinner for the night, and unable to cook for himself in my masterchef case)

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