1. #1
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    JonathanG's Avatar
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    Default First ride-along upcoming

    Hey all,

    Just got back from the firehouse for our Explorer Post's weekly meeting and training night. Found out tonight I am now qualified and set to do a shift with the full-time EMS at our department. Been waiting a year, got basic First Aid/CPR and went through HIPPA classes to get here. From what it looks like I will do my first ride-along this next week Thursday. 9am - 6pm (have to end at 6pm for our weekly station's training).

    I know a few of the FF's and Captains/Chiefs pretty well, but not many of the paid EMS guys so it will be a whole new bonding process. I have my head on straight and now my place as just an observer and hand around the firehouse but I'd like some more pointers and opinions from those in the fire service. If you were to have me as a rider with the department, what would you want me to act as? I don't know, I know the basics of a new guy and where I stand like I said.. just want to hear some opinions from you all.


    Thanks,

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    You pretty much said it. Learn everything you can, while you can. Say tones go out for a wreak, if the guys dont have you doing something go over in your head what you do if you were working on a pt or cutting up the car and if they do it different do be afraid to ask why, not it a way that makes it sound like the crew did it wrong but from a learning stand point. If its a slow day and your in the house alot just act yourself i see to many kids come in and dont talk, cant take jokes and all that. Most important things are learn something new everytime you go a ride along, get to know the know the crew, always ask questions if you have them but be sure to do it at the right time. And bring them a cake or something

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    Jonathan, congratulations on getting cleared to ride. As a medic who has had an active role in training many people over the years (including EMS explorers, ages 14-18) including ride-alongs, I can tell you the following hints to make yourself more useful as an observer.

    1) Remember first & foremost, you are nothing more than an OBSERVER
    regardless of any training you may have completed. Depending on the
    EMT/medic in charge & their mentality towards observers (some love 'em,
    some don't...personally, I like having them because that's where you
    learn the real world tactics..."in the streets"), you may be assisting in a
    limited capacity (carrying bags, writing down info, etc.) or you may do
    nothing more than sit there & watch (that's ok too, not as much fun as
    hands-on but you can learn through observation).

    2) Know your role (see rule# 1) - if the guys/girls are cool with you being
    there & letting you do stuff (within your training...if they hand you a
    needle & say "hey, you wanna try getting this IV?", that a big no-no),
    then great do whatever they say. If they say no to anything, then it's
    NO..PERIOD. Not "well, why not?", "Ahh, com' on man". There are times
    where you may do something on one call & then not do it another time
    simply because the situation doesn't allow it (when the *** hits the fan,
    it's not always the time to be teaching things, you just have to do the
    job & talk about it later).

    3) Limit your questions while in the presence of the pt. - while you are there
    to learn, remember that EMT/medic has a job to do and the pt. doesn't
    feel their greatest at that point & may not appreciate some newbie
    asking question after question after question. Just keep quiet & only speak
    if spoken to - if they (the crew) ask you a question, answer it properly.
    Otherwise, don't ask questions like "hey, how come this guy is blue???"

    I certainly encourage you to ask questions...AFTER the call is over. My
    position has always been there's no such thing as a stupid question...with
    that being said, don't ask questions just to sound interested & accept
    that the EMT/medic you're riding with may not want to play 20
    questions. Also, DO NOT ask accusatory questions that question the
    provider's ability - remember, you are the new guy and despite any
    classes you took, you don't know anything until told otherwise. Questions
    like "hey, how come you only did this to the pt. when the book says
    this?" is a BAD way to appproach someone you're riding with (I speak
    from experience...my personal favorite is the EMT student who tries
    to tell me how to provide advanced life support ).

    3) Pay attention to the lead of the crew, they know how to operate "in the
    street"...there's a lot of "iffy" situations we run into out in the field so
    just pay close attention to their actions, their instructions and you'll be
    fine (no preceptor wants to fill out paperwork for an injured observer).
    Here's a good pointer...when the rig arrives at the call, STOP and
    THINK...ask the crew if it's ok to get out (you may have just stopped
    at a intersection momentarily), then calmly disconnect your seatbelt
    (which should always be on when moving) and get out the door they told
    you to use keeping in mind that you might be stepping out into traffic so
    be careful. Then, ask the crew if they want you carry anything (it's ok if
    they say no) and then FOLLOW them into the location (you should NOT be
    walking into the scene ahead of the EMT/medic in charge!!!!...one of my
    personal pet peeves). They know the danger signs of scenes & need to
    be vigilant for anything amiss that could endanger them/you.

    4) This is reallly how you should start out your shift keeping in mind the
    above rules, particularly number 1. Arrive EARLY (with some goodies for
    the crew doesn't hurt), properly dressed according to the policies of your
    dept. & ready to work. Introduce yourself, learn their names & find out
    what they expect from you. Be ready to check the rig with the crew, help
    them re-stock or again just sit there depending on their mentality (FYI -
    MOST depts I know will put observers with their best trained, experienced
    providers who have a good attitude towards students & teaching them to
    "do the right thing" in the field).

    Do yourself a huge favor (referring back to rule# 1)...just for that day,
    forget the phrase "oh I know that"...if the EMT/medic tells you this is a
    band-aid, even if you knew that, simply thank them for that little nugget
    of information & move on. The worst thing in the world is a student who
    says "oh I know that", "I know that" to everything you try to teach them.

    Oh, this is a lot to digest I know so here's my final bit of advice...HAVE FUN!!!
    While what we do is serious business & puts us in horrible situations sometimes, our job is a lot of fun in that we see things most other people can't handle (which we do because we're properly trained) and you develop a lot of personal improvement through the training & situations we deal with. I've been riding on an ambulance for 19 years now since I was 17 years old and I can still tell what a thrill it was riding as an explorer "back in the day". It was a great experience and the people I rode with provided me with fantastic training that made me the experienced provider I am today. So,
    arrive early, listen & learn and have fun during your shift!!!

    Good luck with your first shift...STAY SAFE

    P.S. - If you get a little motion sick from riding in the back of the box all day,
    tell your crew...they will usually let you sit up front for some air for
    a while (a good crew will make sure of this...they certainly don't want
    to hose puke off the floor, bad enough when it's from a pt., worse
    from a carsick observer!!!

    P.S.S. - Don't be surprised if they hand you a baseball cap lettered JAFO...
    a little inside joke, I'm sure you'll find out what it means!!


    them re-stock

  4. #4
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    WOW!! Thank you very much. I will definitely be reading that post over a few times again before I leave. Great post and thanks again for taking the time to reply!

    I'll be sure to let you all know how it went.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Firescueguy View Post
    Jonathan, congratulations on getting cleared to ride. As a medic who has had an active role in training many people over the years (including EMS explorers, ages 14-18) including ride-alongs, I can tell you the following hints to make yourself more useful as an observer.

    1) Remember first & foremost, you are nothing more than an OBSERVER
    regardless of any training you may have completed. Depending on the
    EMT/medic in charge & their mentality towards observers (some love 'em,
    some don't...personally, I like having them because that's where you
    learn the real world tactics..."in the streets"), you may be assisting in a
    limited capacity (carrying bags, writing down info, etc.) or you may do
    nothing more than sit there & watch (that's ok too, not as much fun as
    hands-on but you can learn through observation).

    2) Know your role (see rule# 1) - if the guys/girls are cool with you being
    there & letting you do stuff (within your training...if they hand you a
    needle & say "hey, you wanna try getting this IV?", that a big no-no),
    then great do whatever they say. If they say no to anything, then it's
    NO..PERIOD. Not "well, why not?", "Ahh, com' on man". There are times
    where you may do something on one call & then not do it another time
    simply because the situation doesn't allow it (when the *** hits the fan,
    it's not always the time to be teaching things, you just have to do the
    job & talk about it later).

    3) Limit your questions while in the presence of the pt. - while you are there
    to learn, remember that EMT/medic has a job to do and the pt. doesn't
    feel their greatest at that point & may not appreciate some newbie
    asking question after question after question. Just keep quiet & only speak
    if spoken to - if they (the crew) ask you a question, answer it properly.
    Otherwise, don't ask questions like "hey, how come this guy is blue???"

    I certainly encourage you to ask questions...AFTER the call is over. My
    position has always been there's no such thing as a stupid question...with
    that being said, don't ask questions just to sound interested & accept
    that the EMT/medic you're riding with may not want to play 20
    questions. Also, DO NOT ask accusatory questions that question the
    provider's ability - remember, you are the new guy and despite any
    classes you took, you don't know anything until told otherwise. Questions
    like "hey, how come you only did this to the pt. when the book says
    this?" is a BAD way to appproach someone you're riding with (I speak
    from experience...my personal favorite is the EMT student who tries
    to tell me how to provide advanced life support ).

    3) Pay attention to the lead of the crew, they know how to operate "in the
    street"...there's a lot of "iffy" situations we run into out in the field so
    just pay close attention to their actions, their instructions and you'll be
    fine (no preceptor wants to fill out paperwork for an injured observer).
    Here's a good pointer...when the rig arrives at the call, STOP and
    THINK...ask the crew if it's ok to get out (you may have just stopped
    at a intersection momentarily), then calmly disconnect your seatbelt
    (which should always be on when moving) and get out the door they told
    you to use keeping in mind that you might be stepping out into traffic so
    be careful. Then, ask the crew if they want you carry anything (it's ok if
    they say no) and then FOLLOW them into the location (you should NOT be
    walking into the scene ahead of the EMT/medic in charge!!!!...one of my
    personal pet peeves). They know the danger signs of scenes & need to
    be vigilant for anything amiss that could endanger them/you.

    4) This is reallly how you should start out your shift keeping in mind the
    above rules, particularly number 1. Arrive EARLY (with some goodies for
    the crew doesn't hurt), properly dressed according to the policies of your
    dept. & ready to work. Introduce yourself, learn their names & find out
    what they expect from you. Be ready to check the rig with the crew, help
    them re-stock or again just sit there depending on their mentality (FYI -
    MOST depts I know will put observers with their best trained, experienced
    providers who have a good attitude towards students & teaching them to
    "do the right thing" in the field).

    Do yourself a huge favor (referring back to rule# 1)...just for that day,
    forget the phrase "oh I know that"...if the EMT/medic tells you this is a
    band-aid, even if you knew that, simply thank them for that little nugget
    of information & move on. The worst thing in the world is a student who
    says "oh I know that", "I know that" to everything you try to teach them.

    Oh, this is a lot to digest I know so here's my final bit of advice...HAVE FUN!!!
    While what we do is serious business & puts us in horrible situations sometimes, our job is a lot of fun in that we see things most other people can't handle (which we do because we're properly trained) and you develop a lot of personal improvement through the training & situations we deal with. I've been riding on an ambulance for 19 years now since I was 17 years old and I can still tell what a thrill it was riding as an explorer "back in the day". It was a great experience and the people I rode with provided me with fantastic training that made me the experienced provider I am today. So,
    arrive early, listen & learn and have fun during your shift!!!

    Good luck with your first shift...STAY SAFE

    P.S. - If you get a little motion sick from riding in the back of the box all day,
    tell your crew...they will usually let you sit up front for some air for
    a while (a good crew will make sure of this...they certainly don't want
    to hose puke off the floor, bad enough when it's from a pt., worse
    from a carsick observer!!!

    P.S.S. - Don't be surprised if they hand you a baseball cap lettered JAFO...
    a little inside joke, I'm sure you'll find out what it means!!


    them re-stock
    Awesome awesome information. I just became a Cadet for the largest fire dept in Az and will be mainly running EMS calls. Thanks for the info! Two thumbs up

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    No problem guys, glad to be of help...having "been there" all ready, I know what it's like when you're the new guy (particularly the new "young" guy). Good luck to both of you. Stay Safe.

  7. #7
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    Default good luck

    hey man, congrats on getting your first ride out. I have been an explorer for little over a year in the dept. where my dad is an engineer. He worked at the buiest statipon in the city out of 6 stations. so my first ride out was on christmas eve 2007, man, im telling you I was nervous. We only got one call that day and that was an oven fire. My hands were shanking and my heart was beating really hard, on the way to the call. There was no fire, it just overheated, but after that I was ready to run more calls. Ok man, just like the guys said before just be yourself, follow the rules, come in uniform, introduce yourself, learn everything that you can, and most imporantly HAVE FUN! My dad went to a slower station but I still ride out at that firehouse and they like me so much, its just like im one of the guys. I have rode went to captains on that engine company and they both have told me that I can ride-out any time I want. One captain wanted me to stay the whole 24 hour shift. So I want to wish you good luck and stay safe.

  8. #8
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    JonathanG's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Just got back home from the fire department. My first ride along was a great experience. The day started out quiet. I met the crew I'd be with for the 10 or so hours I was there. We all seemed to get along well.

    Before noon we had no calls, besides a decent wreck but it was picked up by a neighboring department. After noon, we had a "regular" call come in for a lift-assist. After that we were out for lunch. Not long after we finished we were watching some TV and a call came in for a woman with thigh pains. When we arrived we found it was chest pains and she had pain in her shoulders. This got them concerned. The woman was "larger" so we called for the city's bigger cot/squad that was better suited. Once we got her on an IV and got her some baby advil and nitro, we went emergency to the hospital.

    Afterwards the rest of the shift was quiet and I left with handshakes and a positive report for the Chief from the crew I was with. I'm hoping to start riding each Thursday before our Explorer meetings. Seemed like we all got along well and the balance was good. I kept out of their way, helped when they needed it, and we were all happy campers.

    Glad to report it went very well and I can't wait for future experiences that lie ahead. I learned I DEFINITELY want to get my EMT-Paramedic.

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    Glad that all went well for you!....keep your head up, mouth shut, and ears open. Hope everything works out for ya.

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    Glad to hear it went well for you. It's good that you started out with a "regular" call that turned into something more than you thought...the lesson to be learned here is to always be prepared (gloves on, proper attitude and properly equipped). Calls change rapidly (and not for the better), I've had a sick call turn out to be a cardiac arrest so ALWAYS be prepared both mentally & with the proper equipment.

    So, you want to be a paramedic? Great...now here's where to start. As previously mentioned, keep your eyes/ears open, learn as much as you can and then become an EMT. Now, here's the important part...take time to actually BE an EMT...learn how to deal with pts., assess their problems, identify it to the best of your ability and then treat them. I see way too many EMT's with a year's "experience" jumping into paramedic class the day after they've had their EMT card for a year. To be a decent ALS provider, you need to be an outstanding BLS provider because despite all the fancy equipment, terms & funky things you can do as a medic, it really comes down to the basics which is what saves the pt. All the IV's in the world don't do a damn thing if the pt. doesn't have a patent airway (secured by BLS manuevers) or you stop the bleeding. So, take this time to learn all you can, become an EMT, learn all you can, EVENTUALLY (like 3-5 years minimum IMO) become a Paramedic and learn all you can because they day you stop learning, it's time to hang up your stethoscope.

    Ok, armed with that, keep riding, learning and having fun!!! Stay Safe.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Firescueguy View Post
    Glad to hear it went well for you. It's good that you started out with a "regular" call that turned into something more than you thought...the lesson to be learned here is to always be prepared (gloves on, proper attitude and properly equipped). Calls change rapidly (and not for the better), I've had a sick call turn out to be a cardiac arrest so ALWAYS be prepared both mentally & with the proper equipment.

    So, you want to be a paramedic? Great...now here's where to start. As previously mentioned, keep your eyes/ears open, learn as much as you can and then become an EMT. Now, here's the important part...take time to actually BE an EMT...learn how to deal with pts., assess their problems, identify it to the best of your ability and then treat them. I see way too many EMT's with a year's "experience" jumping into paramedic class the day after they've had their EMT card for a year. To be a decent ALS provider, you need to be an outstanding BLS provider because despite all the fancy equipment, terms & funky things you can do as a medic, it really comes down to the basics which is what saves the pt. All the IV's in the world don't do a damn thing if the pt. doesn't have a patent airway (secured by BLS manuevers) or you stop the bleeding. So, take this time to learn all you can, become an EMT, learn all you can, EVENTUALLY (like 3-5 years minimum IMO) become a Paramedic and learn all you can because they day you stop learning, it's time to hang up your stethoscope.

    Ok, armed with that, keep riding, learning and having fun!!! Stay Safe.

    WOW, once again. You have no idea how appreciated your time and advice/wisdom is by me and I'm sure many others reading this thread.

    I definitely understand where you're coming from with waiting until you have a VERY good grounding in BLS/EMT-B procedures/pt. care. The only question I know have for you is..

    I'm going to hopefully graduate High School with FFI/II and EMT-B. Now, the same program I'm graduating with most of the times can give you up to 12 college credit hours you can use to continue your education (EMT-P) at the local Tech College. Do you think I should wait those 3 or so years before I go and pursue my P card or start the continued education there to get it after time allows me to? Although it is good to get a good grounding in BLS, it can't hurt to get the P card to have it and get it over with, no?

    Thanks again, I look forward to your response. (Others opinion/response welcome also!)

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    Jonathan, ultimately the choice is yours...while I can understand the "let's get it out of the way" mentality, my personal view (and it's just my own, doesn't mean it's right, wrong or indifferent) is that you can never substitute classroom time for real world experience.

    I'm sure you're a smart guy who could probably pass the class provided you absorb the material but if you had more "street time" (experience), you would understand the material and be able to apply it so much better. That is the problem I see with younger guys coming up today, they've got the book skills but put them out in the street and they don't know to adequately assess/treat a pt. which you only truly learn one way...thru EXPERIENCE which can't be gained through a book.

    I speak from experience on this - I took my EMT @ 17 & had it 2 months after my 18th birthday. Now mind you I had been riding very actively as an explorer (operating at pretty much an EMT level) in a very active, well trained, well respected agency (where I've spent 15 years) and there were certainly many more things I had to learn. I too was in a rush & took the ALS provider course shortly thereafter..Guess what, I did not pass (due to a variety of reasons, partly due to inexperience). So I took a step back, continued to ride with my active squad & went to work for NYC*EMS assigned to the busiest station in NYC. While there, I ALWAYS backed up the medics as you could learn a lot from them, especially when they knew you wanted to learn. 4 years later, I went back, took the course & passed because I had considerably more experience and better understood the whole concept of pt. care. 15 years later (and still an ALS provider), I still thoroughly believe that experience is the best teacher.

    Now, that's my story and what worked for me. I can't honestly tell you how to live your life, I'm just sharing my own thoughts & opinions. One of the things that I will tell you to do is this - before you even consider taking an EMT-P course, ask yourself a few experience based questions like:

    1) Can I take a thorough hx. of the pt., assess them, treat their condition
    accordingly & properly pass the info on to the EMT-P who arrives to back
    me up?

    2) Can you tell a pt. has rales from down the hall? Hint: You can with
    experience!!

    3) Can you run a trauma or even a code (at the BLS level) and have
    everything within your level of training done when the EMT-P arrives
    onscene? Biggest issue with BLS providers - they call for ALS "because
    the pt. needs ALS" but they haven't done anything (adequate hx.,
    vital signs) & now the ALS provider has to start from
    scratch.

    4) Have you ever treated a pt. with a pneumothorax (collapsed lung)? If
    not, how will you now as an ALS provider be able to 1) recognize
    the signs of a pneumo & 2) treat the pt. properly, maybe even having
    to decompress their chest (do you want to stick a needle in their chest
    if you have NEVER even "seen" a pneumo)??

    My own personal thing I tell people when they ask why I became an ALS provider is this - "I felt I had reached a point where I had done all I could as an EMT and needed to be able to do more for THE PATIENT". Prime example....on an asthmatic call (many of these in my response area), instead of just taking a history, vitals, slapping oxygen on & transporting them, I now was able to do all that PLUS monitor their hear rate, give them meds (to effectively TREAT the problem) and have the ability to use other advanced techniques (more meds, intubation, etc.) to better treat their problem on the spot. That's why you should want to be an ALS provider - not to wear gold collar bars, drive the flycar or be a chief but rather to do the right thing by the pt.

    Again, I don't tell you this to discourage you...maybe taking the "P" class right away will work for you but "getting it out of the way" is not the way to become a good medic, especially one that has a good reputation & who people want to work with. There are plenty of screw-ups in this job, you don't want to be one of them by having plenty of letters after your name
    & no experience.

    Just my 2 cents...my advice (I've given a lot of it) is to enjoy your ride-alongs, stick with school & see what comes in time. Don't rush it, you've got your whole life ahead of you to spend in school.
    Last edited by Firescueguy; 07-18-2008 at 05:16 PM.

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    Advice taken, absorbed and will keep all you've said in mind. Again and again.. I thank you very much.

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