The Unwired Medic

Teaching EMS providers & other public safety pros about using mobile tech to improve their practice, patient care, continuing education, scene safety, general entertainment, & productivity.

May 20, 2019
by The Unwired Medic
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Really, what is “Beyond The Call”?

Welcome to another anniversary week of celebration of EMS providers and services kicked off Sunday, May 19th, 2019.

We should probably expect the same PSAs circulated every year, saying to wear your seat belts, take a Stop The Bleed Class, offers of free Car Seat Inspections, and to recognize our EMS providers and dispatchers for their service to our communities. Agencies will often take the opportunity to convey the value their services provide to the public. All of that is perfectly appropriate. I would add that we should continue to build on that by letting the public know that we also have distinctions in levels of training, and where that training is available to them, especially the EMR training.

Our employers and destination hospitals also often provide refreshments and gifts in recognition of EMS Week. Sometimes they are warmly received and sometimes they are ridiculed openly on social media (which publicly shows our lack of professionalism and graciousness). We also hear nonsensical statements about EMT’s saving Paramedics proverbial asses. I for one have worked with many EMT’s. Most I would categorize as excellent and dedicated. I have been fortunate to have several partners when I was an EMT convey their appreciation for the hard work I did to support them. Not once have I saved my Paramedic, nor have I needed saving. It was, simply, a team effort to ensuring the best possible patient outcome. If a Paramedic truly needs saving, then they should really evaluate their need for remedial education or consider the possibility they are in the wrong career. Frankly, if I were a non-EMS patient and I heard my Paramedic needed saving, I might roll the dice with Uber or Lyft, because that would terrify me. That is as prudent as betting on the tables in Vegas to provide me a white-collar retirement. If EMT’s are making a habit of saving your Paramedics, then the time has arrived for a real “Come to Jesus” talk. If we just like saying that, let’s leave that mentality behind. Let’s start talking about a real patient care team where each person on a crew contributes to the best possible patient outcome. Complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses (but not carry the dead weight of the other). Our patients deserve no less and we are here for them.

This brings me to the point of my EMS Week 2019 article.

What exactly is “Beyond The Call”?

If the universe were mine to command, Beyond The Call wouldn’t be about catchphrases and slogans and feel-good newspeak. It also wouldn’t be rushing to complete a trip sheet at the end of a run and jamming back out to the next call. It wouldn’t be about rushing to the bathroom between calls or grabbing a bite to eat while navigating to the run that just dropped in your lap. It wouldn’t be glorifying how our lives and our identities are only EMS. It certainly wouldn’t be about dropping several paid full page ads in the primary announcement that’s supposed to be about the people of EMS, not ad revenue, and the hawking of thematic gifts for your people (29 full page ads out of 58 pages of the document linked), in a document that really doesn’t seem to defined “Beyond The Call“. We get enough commercialization of EMS in our industry magazines and via social media, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But can we please have one thing where it’s about us? The providers? The people of EMS? And about the people that support the field crews?

Beyond The Call – What it means to me…

First…

… and foremost, it’s strictly about the people of EMS. Appreciation from commercial interests is fine. Advertising your products like this week is just another advertising opportunity, not so much. I see sponsorships opportunities on the EMS Strong documents, but that sponsorship doesn’t seem to flow down to the people in EMS, as far as I can tell. I really don’t know exactly what’s being sponsored, so if you do, make sure to comment and let me know, please.

Next…

… slogans need definition, not just to be there for the sake of slogans. And I don’t think it’s healthy to perpetuate that EMS is our personal lives and identities, and is all-encompassing. It’s perfectly healthy to leave it at the time clock when we punch out. It’s also perfectly healthy to want to help when we are out and about and happen upon an emergency. It is not healthy to be all EMS all the time. And maybe that mentality helps perpetuate the PTSD and high provider suicide risk. The feeling the you can’t escape. I feel too many EMS Weeks convey all work with not a lot of life and personal identity away from it. Maybe shifting that or at least helping us recognize that EMS is not all we are wouldn’t hurt.

Me? I’m a father, a Marine, a dog owner, I enjoy photography as a hobby and I’m probably amateur/semi-pro at that, and I play low brass instruments. I like to shoot firearms too. I also happened to be in EMS since 1994, working my way up from First Responder to EMT, to Intermediate, to Instructor, to Paramedic. I thoroughly enjoyed my work in EMS and my opportunity to teach and help start the ATEMSP.

This third point…

… is what I really want to emphasize, so it will be the longest…

I think this is the perfect time to acknowledge the pursuit of bettering ourselves. Beyond The Call, to me, can be an opportunity to see what happens behind the curtains of the face of EMS, the sexy, adrenaline fueled, and not so infrequently boring part of EMS, the crews running the calls. QA/QI/QC should have a day to be acknowledged. When you partner their efforts with the field provider, especially when a true Just Culture environment is implemented, you give the EMT’s and Paramedics to the the tools to mature and grow, and become even better than ever. In Just Culture, discoveries in the quality reviewing process can give us exactly that. It can also show provider agencies and oversight agencies like State authorities where the field crews aren’t being provided enough tools to be as successful as they could be.

It can be a time to highlight non-clinical support roles that “keep the wheels on the bus”, pun intended. Logistics that supply the crews with gear. Fleet maintenance that keeps the trucks in motion. Billing that strives to pay the bills that in turn pay for all the things. Admin that orchestrates the entire operation of an agency and ensures that payroll makes it to the field providers, and more.

Beyond The Call, is education… The never-ending pursuit of self-improvement. Whether than involves the pursuit of collegiate education, increasing vocational education and raising your cert level from EMT to AEMT or Paramedic, or taking CE, with the emphasis on the C being “Continuing”, not Rehashing past education. CE should also place a heavy emphasis on EBM (Evidence-Based Medicine). Make yourself better for the next call. Take an arts class. They’ve been shown to help develop critical decision making skills and to help you develop alternative strategies to situations (thinking outside the box). Take additional science classes to help you understand more about the patient and their potential disease processes and mechanisms, or their psyche, or their medications and interactions and metabolism.

This is just one man’s perspective on what EMS Week and Beyond The Call is. It seems that we are left to define the theme for ourselves, and maybe that was really the point. So. Tell me. What is it to you?

April 15, 2019
by The Unwired Medic
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My 9th Anniversary!

Today marks my 9th year anniversary for The Unwired Medic! I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog, even though I don’t publish articles too often. Stick with me for more public safety tech reviews and articles relevant to EMS in general. No spam here! Thank you for reading!

November 29, 2018
by The Unwired Medic
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Do you still belong in Public Safety?

Depression is a terrible thing. It’s even worse when you begin to contemplate ending your life. And you’re probably filled to the brim with “awareness”. If anything, you are more acutely “aware” than most. I’d like to propose an alternative solution to coping with your demons. Maybe it’s time to consider moving on from EMS, Fire, or Law Enforcement.

I know. You’ve invested a lot of time and education, and you’ve poured your heart and soul into it, but are you getting back what you are putting into it, or is it slowly eating away at you? Are you able to be the person you want to be now? Are you able to separate your identity from your dedication to your work? Are all your friends also in public safety? Do you only talk about your work and the things you have seen? If public safety is also your off-duty identity, I submit the answer is quite possibly “no”. Maybe the Return on Investment isn’t so good anymore. When an investor sees that their returns aren’t worth what they are putting in, they move their investments to something that does return enough. They don’t keep funding a dying thing, hoping to get a little more return.

Hear me out. There are plenty of career alternatives. Photography, technology, sales, counseling, occupational health, public health preparedness (PHP), emergency management (EM), OSHA/MSHA, post-secondary education, educational upgrade to a higher level of care provider or specialist, and so much more. A lot of these options can be quite intrinsically rewarding. Personally, I found education, and both PHP and EM very rewarding. Career counselors can even survey your skills and interests and give you alternatives to evaluate too. You can also keep going in public safety on a part-time or reserve status, or volunteer for a DMAT or something.

But for your own sake, if your outside life is getting to be indistinguishable from work, you seriously need to take stock in yourself and be honest in your evaluation. We don’t need bitter old codgers and we don’t need people on the edge of losing it, one more call away from signing off permanently. You to be whole and compassionate, even for a simple lift assist or IFT, but most especially for yourself and your family. Burn-out is real and even I’ve been there for a time. I’ve asked myself why the hell I keep getting out of bed for this if I can’t get anything more than a paycheck (and not really a very good one at that). My family deserved better, and especially I deserved better. You do too. Be honest with yourself and do what is right for you. Don’t be the next last call. Don’t be the next reason we put a mourning band on our badges. You are better than that, and you have the power to prevent that and reclaim your happiness. You deserve it and don’t ever let yourself believe otherwise. You don’t have to force yourself to pretend to be happy in public safety. It’s a big investment in our lives to be here, but maybe the smart money is on diversification. The smart investor knows when it’s time to spread out his portfolio, and when it’s time to move on to a new thing.

It sounds cheesy AF, but a line The Gambler, by Kenny Rogers, really applies here…

“You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold’ em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.”


November 2, 2018
by The Unwired Medic
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Verizon’s Palm Device – Redundant or Boon?

Verizon Palm

So, it’s not really a phone that makes calls, texts, runs Android with a full suite of apps, has a 12MP camera, runs social media, does voice commands, plays media, can run without your regular phone, but syncs with it (even iPhone)?

So we finally have a (not) phone that fits into that so-called “phone pocket” built into your pants. Right!

It seems it may cost an additional $10/mo and if you are an iOS device user, you have to disable iMessages to sync texts. And for you nostalgia types, no Graffiti. 😠 That’s a problem for texting on such a small screen, so use a stylus, fat finger a lot of things on the keyboard, or voice-to-text. Still, this may be a great option for #EMS, as I am hesitant to bring a $1k phone on scene with me, but I still want comms with dispatch, supervisors, and medical control, and may want to jot down some notes. Maybe an #ePCR app will work with it while you take quick notes on scene until you can get back to a tablet or laptop. Maybe this can replace a handheld radio for dispatch comms via an app like iamresponding. This could be a real boon to public safety.

This could provide instant access to WISER and ERG, ePocrates, Medscape, and MicroMedex Drugs/Compatibility/Peds/NeoFax, your medical reference ebooks like Harrisons and others, assorted specialty calculators, your pocket field guides, ICS Forms, and allow you to Bluetooth to your cardiac monitor. I would need to test this with mobile device management suites like Airwatch, but I imagine it could support encryption and lost device protection. There are lots of possibilities, and at a third the price of a flagship smartphone, I could see this being very useful in public safety.

#Verizon #VerizonWireless


September 26, 2018
by The Unwired Medic
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Backboards in the dumpster?

This is a travesty! Please don’t do this! Save those backboards!

Upcycle, MF’s! Those make awesome:

  • Toboggans
  • Workbenches
  • Garage and rafter shelving
  • Many float so you can use them in the pool or as a poor man’s surfboard
  • They also make good bachelor coffee tables
  • Plant shelving for vertical gardening
  • Pergolas
  • Line your truck bed for transporting things you don’t want damaging the bed
  • Replace the top part of a bench seat after the padding rips apart
  • And much more!

Whatever you do is fine, as long as you quit using them on patients! Share your ideas to upcycle with old backboards (wood and plastic) in the comments below!