EMS A-Z Series – “P” Patient Assessment & Public Perception

By | June 4, 2023

There are so many P’s in EMS topics that I found it hard to choose just the right one. What I decided to do was to pick one that is common and one that is not.

Patient assessment – This topic fits right in with the EMS A-Z series. ABC’s, SAMPLE, AVPU. The list of mnemonics is long and distinguished when it comes to patient assessment. If you have been reading these installments you may guessed what is coming. Yes, another finger pointing at the basics.

Patient assessment is the backbone of what we do. Knowing what to look for and when, are key factors to how we treat our patients. Just as important is being able to use the patient assessment as a method to detect changes in our patient. A secondary assessment may often reveal an injury or illness that was not seen in a primary assessment.

By using patient assessment as an ongoing tool during our patient contact we can be sure that we do not miss any life threatening problems and also note changes that may be taking place from our actions or perhaps inactions.

Many of the mnemonics used in patient assessment help us to remember what to do and by always going back to the beginning in assessing our patients we ensure that we do not miss any vital signs or symptoms. Like I mentioned above, by continually assessing our patients before and after treatment we can identify problems that may be caused by our in actions. In other words we didn’t treat something we should have or maybe missed.

By properly assessing and reassessing our patients we can correct any issues before they become life threatening. Patient assessment should be tailored to each patient with the basics kept in mind. A patient who is talking to you, doesn’t need to have their airway opened. Just like a patient who has a broken leg may not necessarily need an EKG.

By using the mnemonics taught us during our first days of training, we can ensure that our treatment is proper and our methods exact.

Public Perception – You may have seen many discussions in EMS forums, websites and magazines on the growth of EMS or the lack of growth. How we do not command the professional respect of our co-workers never mind the general public. But just what steps can we take to improve our status?

The perception of EMS in my opinion is the first step to gaining a foot hold in path to a real future as a profession. Public perception is even more important. If you think about it, getting the public backing as well as political will help us make great strides to our goals.

Many EMS providers however ask what they can do as an individual to better our public image.

There are two things that you can do as an EMS professional to help improve our image almost immediately. Think about your appearance and your attitude.

The very first installment of the A-Z Series talked about your attitude and how that can affect you and the patients you treat. Go and read that article and see exactly what I mean. For the purpose of this installment I want to focus on your attitude towards the patient and family members.

Having a positive attitude will increase your professional persona to the patients and families you come in contact with and they will remember that you were not just the ambulance driver, but a true professional who listened and cared about your job.

When it comes to appearance I want you think about the last call you had where you or someone you know responded in shorts, pajamas or even flip flops. I know that many EMS responders come from home at a moments notice and that a response is more important at times than what you look like.

My challenge is to begin staffing of volunteer organizations with some type of uniform in 2-6 hour shifts. This will also improve response times as well having staff on hand. In addition it will also assist in the safety of the most important element – us. We need to stop making excuses for our appearance and start to present ourselves as we would like to be seen.

On the other side is the paid EMS provider who never puts a drop of polish on his shoes, never irons a shirt or replaces a faded pair of pants. Your appearance is not only a reflection on you but on your agency as well.

By trying to look our best, we can slowly gain the respect of the public and increase their support. Whether it’s for a new vehicle, improved training or a total reorganization of the EMS system. Build their perception today for their support and recognition tomorrow.

By remembering the basics like patient assessment and striving to present ourselves in the best way possible, we can ensure the growth of our profession by maintaining the standards set for us and the ones set by us.