I have heard good comments about Informed (in other online communities similar to this one, but EMS-focused). I haven't looked at one myself, although I do have their iPhone app. I'm not sure if it's the same content or not.
I have one (forget which brand off hand) and I used to carry it at all times. Wasted weight in my pocket, especially as a first responder. I do still carry it when I do squad rotation (maybe one week every 8-12 weeks). Even then I only use it for two things -a) given a particular drug, what is it used for? and b) spelling check of med terms in my reports.
BTW, I am a EMT (in addition to being a FF); not everyone here can make that claim, be wary of those giving you advice.
I thought starting out I would want the quick reference material, and thinking back to my rookie year I probably did use it more then. But basically I came back to my training.
I am fortunate times 2. One I get to work in one of THE busiest EMS systems in the country, and even in my relatively few years of experience I believe I have more experience than a lot of EMTs get for 2, 3, even 4 times the years. (This has been reinforced by those with experience from before joining my dept.) For example, I have been first on scene EMT at dozens of shootings - more than most will see in a career; the squads I have worked do upwards of 8,000 runs/year. With that experience comes repetition, and mistakes learned from, that reinforces the training.
My second fortune was the training; taught by my dept. in the academy, an accelerated course boot-camp style that was so thorough yet overwhelming that in 3 months I went from not knowing a damn thing to being prepped well enough to succeed in this system. The only regret for my training is I didn't know what to ask when I went through. It'd be nice to have a 1-year or even 6-month refresher to jar loose and reconnect somehow the difference from the classroom to the field. Kinda like we were a lump of clay, formed one way to get through the training, then the field shaped us to another similar but different form; some kind of compare/contrast to rectify the two forms would then be ideal.
I have to disagree with it "looking bad" if you have to look up something in the field. When I was doing my medic rotations in the various hospitals, it wasn't at all unusual for the docs to have the physicians-style field guide on them ... and they even used it!
Some medics & EMT's are better than others, as far as bedside manner, job performance, job knowledge, and memory of drip rates, med administration, and the like. Some simply might need a quick reminder on any of these items, and having a field guide handy doesn't hurt.
I don't carry one on my person, but we have one (ALS version) in the jumpbag, just in case anyone on the rig needs it.
Personally, I think there's nothing wrong with them. If it comes down to realizing you don't know something, and either making a guess or pulling out the field guide and possibly having some of the people around you worry about your competence, I think making the guess is probably the wrong way to go. It depends on circumstance, too. If it's a fast-paced critical life-or-death situation, you might not really have time to consult the guide.
Just out of curiosity, these physicians you mentioned, did they do their guide-consulting in front of patients?
I've carried one almost every day for a few years. In addition to being a good reference for patient meds that you may not recognize, it is also a handy for reminders while you are enroute to some of the less frequent calls-pediatrics, child birth, etc. It is a convenient place to keep computer passwords for reporting software, email, etc, plus door codes for hospitals, radio frequencies, phone numbers, etc. Mine has been customized with sticky notes, taped in business cards (assisted living home contact info), and writing in the margins.
I have found it worthwhile to buy the new version when it is released every 2-3 years, just for the updates to patient medications.
I work as a full time ALS provider. I currently carry the ALS version of Informed and a small PDR I found @ Barnes and Noble. While I don't carry them with me on the actual calls I will reference them when typing my PCR or reviewing things with students.
It is more like a "Emergency Medicine" guide, mostly deals with drugs commonly used/seen in an ER setting as compared to every drug out there
I carry a pocket copy of the regional protocols. You almost need it anymore since we are carrying double the drugs we carried when I got my paramedic in 1984.
I took a little index spiral book and titled it, "Marvin's Guide to Success"
and put all the most common runs in our area. I also put the most popular medication names and why they're used, the most common diseases and illnesses, also wrote down the shortcuts to the hospital, and even what my attending paramedic likes to use and what not to use (nasal cannula, etc). I sell them for a couple bucks. All those EMS Field guides are great, but sometimes the book can only get you so far.
I normally carry mine with me just in case I forget something (Happens to all of us lol). I've used it once or twice.
Here are a few thoughts and suggestions:
1. Most pre-printed pocket-guides are fairly generic. They may be more of a hinderance than a help.
2. Most folks do not have an abundance of space to carry/store excess stuff in a convenient and effective manner.
3. Most agencies have their SOPs/SOGs/MOPs and treatment protocols available either elcetronically and/or via online.
4. Most folks know what they are supposed to do on runs, they just sometime need a memory-jogger or would like something easy to use for reference or review.
My suggestions are as follows:
1. Get a copy of whatever documents you are wanting to have as a pocket-guide reference and make your own based on your own organzation's procedures. Cut-and-paste them into Word, decrease the font size to where you can read them, go to Kinkos, laminate, and the have them bound in a manner to your liking. You may need to "clean up" whatever you cut-and-paste but you'll learn the topics intimately while you are reformating them and organizing them in a manner that makes sense to YOU.
2. Many folks are utilizing laptops for their PCRs. We got our software provider to include our treatment protocols so you can review them in real time on a run if you need to by pressing one button. You "X" out or minimize that screen when you are done.
3. If you are not computer saavy, do as suggested in a previous post and print the documents you want to have available as a reference, put them in vinyl protectors, and put everything a binder that locks well.
Generic pocket guides are OK but if you are going to carry something, why not have something that is specifically for your organization? I made three of each - one for firefighting stuff, one for ARFF, and one for EMS. Be prepared for everyone else wanting a copy of your stuff once you make them. If it's all on the computer, email the info to them and let them organize their stuff to their liking.