Paramedics: On the Front Lines of Patient Care

November 19th, 2014 by CTSCCC

Paramedics save lives. They are the first line of defense against injury and sickness and an integral part of both the healthcare system and our local communities.

Pretty much everyone is aware of the valuable service paramedic college graduates provide for those in need. Most of us either know someone who has been helped by a paramedic, or we’ve required their expertise ourselves.

Without hesitation or complaint, we all make way when we hear an ambulance siren, because we know that what the people in that ambulance are doing is extremely important. How many of us, though, actually understand the details of what paramedics do, or what it takes to be one?

Healthcare and Public Safety

Paramedics bridge the gap between the worlds of healthcare and public safety in crucial ways. Frequently, paramedics help remove people from dangerous environments such as car accidents, fires and crime scenes – and then they administer first response care to these individuals while delivering them to the nearest hospital.

Paramedics work side by side with doctors, nurses, police officers and firefighters. Students enrolled in the police program in Sudbury, for example, will want to get to know individuals pursuing paramedic training in the same city – because one day, they will all be part of Sudbury’s essential health and safety ecosystem.

Medical Skills

As medical professionals, paramedics possess an extensive knowledge of anatomy and physiology as well as patient care and psychology. This knowledge helps them assess a situation and determine what a patient needs in mere seconds.

Paramedics have to be ready to perform a wide range of medical tasks including:

  • Respiratory procedures
  • Cardiac support for heart attack victims
  • Delivering babies in emergency situations
  • Stabilization of heads, necks and broken bones
  • Wound dressing
  • Administering medication and IV fluids

First Responder Skills

As first responders who often face extreme situations, paramedics need to maintain a temperament similar to their colleagues in police and fire rescue. Some personality traits that are absolutely essential for a successful career as a paramedic are:

  • Calm under pressure: Paramedics don’t typically deal with routine medical problems, lost bikes or cats stuck up in trees. When they are called, it’s often to deal with high-stakes situations that require swift and decisive response. Successful paramedics remain calm under pressure, and follow methods learned in training to administer the most appropriate care.
  • Quick thinking, quick acting: A paramedic’s job is by definition touch and go.  When the unexpected occurs, they must use their training to quickly assess what’s required and implement an action plan. If their plan proves ineffective, they adapt quickly with an alternative approach.
  • Strong interpersonal skills: Paramedics often deal with people in vulnerable, shaken, or injured states. As professionals, they must be able to effectively communicate with patients and loved ones, as well as inform passersby and others at the scene what they must do to stay safe. They also need to work in a team with fellow medical and public safety professionals.

Do you think you have what it takes to be a paramedic? Let us know in the comments!