Revisiting Mental Health…. Again…. and Again…

I wrote about the Code Green Campaign back in 2016 in my post about calling a code on our mental health. I was talking about how some of my “ghosts” haunt me, revisit me, remind me of some of the worst calls I’ve ever been on. It happens to me frequently. At night. During the day. When my mind wanders. When I run into an old partner. When I run the same type of call. When I’m training a new hire and they ask a question that reminds me of a patient with the same type of symptoms. I guess since I’ve been “doing this” for 15+ years, I’ve run enough calls that I’ve got more than a few bad memories stacked up inside my head, and some of them bubble up to the surface occasionally. Sometimes I can just shake it off. Sometimes they stick around, and I sit with it for a while and think about how the call went. How it made me feel then, and how it makes me feel now. Sometimes I think about what lessons I still carry with me as a result of the call, because I try to never let a “bad” call be in vain. A very dear mentor friend of mine told me that every death in the field should be a gift in some way to a field provider, that we should still be able to learn from it, and grow stronger as providers and be able to better care for patients and their family members as a result of having gone on that call, even if we weren’t able to have a positive outcome for that particular patient. I also write things down in journals, so I can look back and reflect on them. I talk to friends and coworkers. I talk to my family, sometimes more than they would like, I think. Probably most importantly, I talk to a therapist. Not as often as I should, but I have built a trusting relationship with a clinically trained therapist who specializes in working with public safety employees, and I know that I can reach out to her when needed, and that’s a valuable tool in my mental health toolbox. So why am I revisiting this topic again, today?

Continue reading “Revisiting Mental Health…. Again…. and Again…”

EMS Week 2020!

EMS_Week_2020_Final_CMYK-scaledIt’s EMS WEEK 2020! It sure doesn’t feel like it, though. Usually as we are approaching this week, we’re talking about crew breakfasts, the EMS week banquet, service recognition events, team-building, and other fun events. Instead, our discussions are focused on things like PPE utilization, COVID alert rates, disease spread, and community fatality rates. Much of the work that ACEP and NAEMT have done in preparing for EMS Week this year has basically been to support all of us in EMS in continuing to do the job that we love so much in the face of such a strange and challenging pandemic, rather than their traditional roles of cheer-leading and boosting morale during this week. Continue reading “EMS Week 2020!”

A Bad Day in EMS

bad day

What does a “bad day” in EMS look like? First you have to ask if it’s a “bad day” for the EMS provider…. or for the EMS recipient. As a provider, I’ve had all kinds of days. I’ve had days where I feel appreciated by my employer, the general public, my coworkers, and my patients. I’ve also had days where I feel insignificant. In the way. Replaceable. Patients who don’t want your help, or worse, need your help and there’s nothing you can do. Family members who discover a loved one at home, deceased, having never gotten the chance to say goodbye, not even sure how long they’ve been dead. I’m a religious person, and I believe that a lot of things happen for a reason, but I also think that sometimes bad things just happen. Babies don’t die because they’re bad people or they’ve done anything wrong. Innocent drivers don’t get killed by drunk drivers because they wanted to buy groceries. In EMS, it’s our job to make scenes and create calm, direct patient care, and try to make a bad situation slightly better than how we found it. Continue reading “A Bad Day in EMS”

New Home, New Site!

Welcome to the new home of my EMS-related thoughts and rantings! For those of you who followed me on The Nightshift Squirrel, thank you so much for making the jump to this site. I’m not entirely sure what happened to the guys I was working with on that site – they’re still active on facebook, but have completely stopped updating the site and have stopped responding to my emails and messages. So, rather than just continue to manage their facebook page for them, I’ve decided to step out on my own. I plan to recruit a couple other EMS and public safety type folks to contribute here, as well.

For those of you who are just joining us out in TV land, WELCOME!! Thanks for joining me. This should be an exciting adventure. I plan to post as often as I can, but in all reality, the life of a paramedic is an unpredictable one, and some months I might post several times and other months you might not hear from me. If YOU would like to contribute, please email me at dave@ventricularescape.com and I’ll happily add you as a contributor to the blog or the facebook page, whichever you’re interested in.

Take a look around – I’ve reposted my favorite blog posts here, and I plan on migrating over some of my other, older entries, too. Stay tuned!

Code Green – Mental Health in EMS

codegreen

It’s time to call a code on our mental health.

Everyone in EMS experiences stress. Some of us work for rural, remote EMS services that make only a few runs a month. Some work for busy, urban services that make hundreds or thousands of runs a month. There are many ways in which such services differ, but no matter the size or type of service, we’ve all been stressed out by a call, by a patient, by a coworker, by home life – and at one point or another, you will have a hard time dealing with that stress. Continue reading “Code Green – Mental Health in EMS”