As a paramedic, have to be a pretty good negotiator. Maybe you are surprised that negotiation is an important aspect of the job. Sometimes people call, and then when we get there and bring some calm, they get cold feet. I have to convince people to stay home as well. “You have the flu, please don’t come to the ER.” I usually say through a window using a bull horn. When hospitals get busy, I have to sell alternatives. When I want to start an IV, but the patient doesn’t trust me yet, I get that done. I have to coax kids into not crying, coax parents into not crying. I have to squeeze information from human turnips that just about drive me crazy. At the same time, I have to figure out if these people are drug addled, drunk, or just plain lying to me. All this talking to people, as an introverted extrovert, is exhausting, but sometimes a rewarding part of the job.
The other night, I couldn’t make anyone do anything. We started with a lady who had a seizure and then fell and wacked her head. Blood was everywhere, bystanders were concerned, but she was just as happy as a clam. “I’m fine.” She repeated unconvincingly. We got her bandaged up and in the ambulance and all buckled in before she decided that this was not what she wanted to do with her day. Normally, I am okay with people making alternative plans. “Yes, have your wife drive you!” I usually say through the PA of the ambulance as we drive away. But this lady was not making a good decision. For almost an hour, I talked to her. The police came and talked to her. The doctor at the ER talked to her on the radio. She was implacable, and we had no ability to kidnap her for her own good. So, off we left.
Immediately after, we met a guy who “just wasn’t feeling right”. He had had chest pains off and on, felt weak, and then nauseated. Fortunately and unfortunately, everything we could check checked out fine, but I wanted him to go to the hospital. I used anecdotes, scare tactics, and I even pulled out the big guns: “If you were my dad, I would want you to go.” That line almost broke him, but he decided to wait it out until the morning. There are some conditions I can’t fix. Stubbornness is one of them.