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EMS

Next to creating a life, the finest thing a man can do is save one - Abraham Lincoln

EMS

image by: Seattle Municipal Archives

Where would we be without EMS professionals. We all at one time or another are or will be thankful for what you do.

After introduction of CPR programs in the late 60's, gradual, consistent decreases in the incidence and severity of heart disease was noted and at first everyone thought it was because people were learning CPR, as well as increasing public knowledge of the importance of modifying life styles by paying attention to the risk factors for heart disease.

To a certain extent it was, but closer analysis showed that the major factor is EMS systems.

The first model for pre-hospital care was developed in an attempt to provide effective treatment quickly to patients in sudden cardiac arrest and heart attack. In 1969, in Belfast Ireland, physicians were sent to homes of heart attack victims with their drugs and defibrillators. It worked, according to most, and the next year St. Vincent’s hospital in New York implemented the country’s first physician-staffed mobile unit.

To have a bunch of doctors assigned to ambulances and sitting around most of the time was quickly deemed inefficient so the concept of the paramedic physician-extender was developed in the U.S. and the UK including Glasgow, Los Angeles, King County Washington, Miami and New York.

Motivated to save even more lives, the AED made its debut and has been extensively deployed and widely touted as a success. They’ve been given to policemen, ambulance drivers, teachers, casinos, airports, airline attendants. They’re are all over, even in the hospital waiting room, Wal-Mart and other department stores, the golf course. They’re ubiquitous.

But despite AEDs, simplified CPR and EMS systems in almost every community survival from sudden cardiac arrest remains dismal. It's evident that getting electricity to a failed heart in under 5 minutes is essential in making a significant impact on increasing survival rates, yet most EMS systems response times are over the magic 5 minutes.

More emphasis needs to be placed on earlier intervention including the widespread availability of public access defibrillation (PAD) before trained medical personnel arrive. Perhaps the expanding AED PAD movement will make a major impact. It remains to be seen.

"Please take note, appreciate our paramedics, policemen and firemen, and take note of these tips that can save them the seconds needed to save a person’s life:

Move out the way! The siren is not some ice-cream truck for you to flock to and block. If there is no emergency path on the road, assist in creating one. If on the highway, move as far over as possible to your lane (eg to the left in the left lane, and to the right in the middle lane) in order to allow the ambulance or paramedic to go through. Watch what the ambulance does.

At a scene, please don’t stop and stare. You are hampering traffic, and could cause another accident. If on foot, please don’t crowd around, the paramedics need ample space to work. If you witnessed an accident, please stay behind and await the police (if they do not arrive please report it at the nearest police station)

When the ambulance or response car is behind you please DO NOT slam on breaks! Either move out the way, and if this is not possible, try speed up until the ambulance can move past you.

If there is a shortage of paramedics, offer to help. There are simple things you can do with the guidance of a paramedic, which can be of true help! Holding the patients head, calming the patient down, translating into English are vital in the prevention of a patient’s condition worsening. Taking a first aid course can save lives, what is stopping you from doing it?

Please do not shout at the paramedics. We understand you are concerned for your family member or friend, but we struggle to understand you when you are blubbering. Take a deep breath in, and then tell us. Knowing if your family/friend is allergic to anything, have any conditions or are on any medications can be of real assistance in giving them the correct treatment.

Honour a paramedic/policeman/fireman. Donate money to their bases, bring them lunch, anything. SHow your appreciation in any way you can

When calling their call center (082911 or 084124 – have you put it in your cellphone yet?) remain calm, talk clearly, and let the call taker know what exactly happened, as well as have the address and contact details on hand before you call. The operator will guide you.

Take care of yourselves and your family and friends. Go on, tell your loved ones that you love them. Right now. No regrets. The more you take care of yourselves, and the less risk you put yourself and others, the less trauma and deaths there re, in the preventable ones. Look after your health. Don’t do drugs."

Source: Living Life with a Paramedic, LoveCybelle's Blog, February 28, 2011.


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