The Calm

In recent days I've had calls that tested my patience.  And not because of the patients, but because of their family.  It is important for a paramedic to be empathetic and patient, but I think that overly excited families forget that a paramedic is also an investigator and problem-solver.
I've had a rash of kids who had febrile seizures.  In these cases, the patients are largely fine. It's not an ideal situation, but, it happens.  I work hard as a non-mom to put myself in their positions of these parents.  I can see how it would be terrifying to see your kid have a seizure, but once someone arrived to help, I might think some of your stresses would be relieved.  But one mom I had to deal with recently I seriously wanted to vulcan death-grip her, just to knock her out and let her reset.  She was absolutely inconsolable, despite the fact that the baby in her arms was clearly fine by that time and left seriously wondering what it's mother was doing shouting like a crazy person.

Then I had a call where an elderly father had gone unconscious.  Two of his daughters were on scene. I arrived before the ambulance and was thusly alone there for a few minutes.  The panic had well set in by my arrival and the daughters couldn't tell me anything useful because they were too wrapped up in their own conclusions.  Berating me about what I could and couldn't do by myself, how gentle I needed to be with him and how he couldn't go even one second without oxygen wasn't helping me to fix the problem.  Calling their entire Rolodex while I was trying to figure out what was going on wasn't helping either.  I almost lost my temper with this call.  I had to ask one of them to leave as her phone call was drowning out what I needed to hear, and then I heard her complaining about it in the next room.  My requests for medical history, medications, and at the very least the story fell on deaf ears.  It was frustrating beyond belief. 

Anyway, I guess my point is that I am having trouble empathizing.  I am having trouble being patient at the times when I should be most patient.  It is easy to imagine the situation the frantic daughters were in, but it's just not in my demeanor to panic.  I worried that my calmness was actually winding them to a higher state of frenzy.  I could feel they were actually mad that I had arrived alone, didn't match their panic, and then didn't solve their problem within 60 seconds.  I've seen it in the ER quite a bit, when you don't match their level of concern, people get more mad instead of more calm. It doesn't really make sense.

On this call, my BLS partner assured me I wasn't mean, just to the point.  It didn't feel that way after I started to ignore their questions that I had already answered.  I suppose it's not bad that I was more concerned for the patient then their feelings. And frankly the patient was far more critical then appeasing their inquiries.  Despite that, I'm going to try to be the eye of the hurricane and make every attempt to convince everyone on scene to join me. 

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