Thursday, July 24, 2008

Rising to the Challenge

Medic Matthew has given me a challenge...blabbering blogging more than once a week.

So here we go.
I will insert my apology for the rant here.

Being relatively new to the publishing blogosphere, I don't want to offend anyone. But this is my personal opinion, and I'm protected under free speech, and I can say whatever I want. If you're offended, you don't have to come back.

I read Ambulance Driver and Crystal and have worked as an EMT-Intermediate for a transfer company.
I have also been hospitalized for mental health reasons.

So on one hand (the EMT hand), I have heard "Just another fucking nut run" when the pager goes off to transport a patient from Big City Hospital to the holding pen local psychiatric facility
I can't say that I have never been frustrated after the 10th psych run in an evening. But with each patient, I approached them all with the dignity and respect that I would give my grandmother on her deathbed.

On the other hand (JaneQPublic), I've been in the position to require a stay in a mental health hospital, given multiple circumstances that seemed to heavy to bear. And that's ok. If you broke your leg, would you go to the hospital and have it fixed (if the bone was poking out through the skin and the lower half of your leg were turning blue, and you begin to wonder how could you POSSIBLY have that much blood in your body??) Of course. So why is it that something unseen, unknown, draws so much stigma? "Well, he looked fine."

On one hand (the EMT Hand), I realize that out of 600 runs that I did in a year, 200 were for mental health reasons, whether it was for transfers or on scene interventions.

For some of those people, I question the validity of their "mental health" issues and whether or not they really required a very expensive trip in the back of an ambulance.

However, for some, I'm quite sure that an ambulance was truly the safest way for them to travel. Some of them, with a police escort.

On the JaneQPublic hand, I believe that the shear volume of people who cry wolf tend to make the EMS providers* care less and less about paying attention to what problem a psych patient may have, and thus, becoming callous towards them. Believe it or not, how we feel comes out in the comments we make to and around the patient, in body language, and in comments we make to each other.

As a society and as a profession, I think we need to watch what and how we say things because you never know who is listening, the experiences they have been through, and the impact of some seemingly insignificant verbal jab would have on someone who has almost completely given up on the human condition.
The converse of this is true as well. If we exude confidence as being someone who is trustworthy, a good listener, doesn't gossip, and can find solutions to problems (Note: Not Solve problems) then we are more receptive to meeting people where they are, and being compassionate towards all patients.

*Maybe this is a vast generalization of people I've encountered who have been burned by the system

1 comment:

meta_rev said...

Another weird thought:
EMS providers may treat Psych patients differently because they themselves are uncomfortable with the patient. Its easy to examine/relate/treat someone who has a broken leg, but is otherwise "normal"(if there is such a thing), since so much of patient examination involves chatting with your patient. I think that its part of human nature to be uncomfortable (read: FEAR) what we can't relate with, and psych patients certainly fall into that category. Of course, being EMS providers, we deal with that situation several different ways: sick humor, clamming up, or bitching about it. Just my $.02.