Medics and heavy lifting
Is it just in my area, or are medics in general averse to lifting heavy to semi-heavy objects such as patients and stair chairs?
I'm taking EMT-Basic right now, and one of the stated requirements for it (and Paramedic) is the ability to lift one end of a stretcher with a 250-lb patient on it, among other things. Yet I'd swear there are people in my class that can't do that.
But with the calls I've been out on, I've seen what they do...apparently, there is a secret medic lifting technique used to overcome all obstacles, including an aging, increasingly female, and somewhat overweight and less fit medic population:
It's called, "Hey Firefighters..."
(Before you flame me, please know that I am female and only 5'2" myself, along with 53 years old and a volunteer Firefighter...but I hold my own in the lifting heavy objects dept.)
I hadn't realized up until now that part of our job as Firefighters is to be "medic mules"...not that I mind it, but I do think medics should work on fitness.
Perhaps it has to do with the SOPS or culture among the medics in your area. In my area we get Lift Assist calls pretty frequently but I've rarely heard one for a patient below 300 pounds and when I have it's because of issues with the path to the patient such as extremely steep stairs with narrow turns in them that even make navigating a stair chair down them difficult.
In the end, as a Firefighter I'd much rather the medics call me out if they have one iota of doubt about their ability to move the patient safely without extra help then have them not call me out because they were "Pretty Sure" they could do it and have a patient suffer greater injury because of it.
<edited for grammar>
This is nothing new, and it is in some ways understandable. The more you lift, the more chances you have to hurt or destroy your back. People that want to make a career out of being an ambulance medic see a lot of people go out early with injuries, it is understandable that they want to protect themselves from this. The funny thing is that most big injuries don’t come from the heavy lifts, but the routine everyday stuff. You prepare and use proper techniques when lifting the big ones, but not always with light people or just an empty gurney.
In most places it is the ambulance personnel’s job to do the lifting and the fire departments job to assist, if asked. That means the ambulance crew is lifting and we help them, not they watch us lift. You need to find out how the relationship is defined in your area.
The next step is to make sure that everyone is aware of the rules. It may be that the ambulance people have been told and trained that they are to have fire do the lifting and aren’t aware of whose responsibility it is.
Next you need a company officer that will take charge. If one of the ambulance crew wants to step back, it is the C.O.’s job to say, “get back in there, and if you need help we will assist”. People will do what they are allowed to do, unless they are held to doing what is right.
We had a situation where an EMT would always put herself between the gear and the front door. So when it was time to lift she would say, “I’ll get this stuff out of your way”. The first few times no one noticed, but then it became an every call thing. So I started getting behind her and when she would say that, I would say, “You know what, I got it, you can get back in there”. After a while she stopped trying, with us. She still did it with the other crews, until we told them. She got the hint. Haven’t seen her in a long time.
Thanks for the good feedback, Capt. Rob and EGregory!
I guess I should look at this more positively--it's good that Fire and EMS work together so well in my area. I'm taking EMT-Basic right now, and we're being taught to use Firefighters for assistance in things like holding direct pressure while we splint, etc.
It seems like it's the new EMT's or medics. The arrive on the scene with the more seasoned members of their crew. They might feel the are being tested. They start barking orders to the fire crew. Hey we will help if needed. If this wasn't a serious call I will tell the newbie to put their crew to work first. Especially if I was in a busy area and coverage was light. I wanted to tell dispatach that I was availble from the scene. I guess the word got out becasue when the box arrived and they saw me they would transmit "white hair on the scene". That would be me. And the drill didn't happen.
On a call on the 3rd floor with no elevator they decided the really heavy lady needed to be put on a spine board and carried down. This would involve upending the board on the landings. The lady told them she could walk down. Nope they wanted her carried. I told them if so, you better call more of their crews for manpower because I felt it was a bad call. Guess what. They let the lady walk down with no problems.
Call fold help no reason to hurt yourself or someone else
Here, there are some medics who will push you out of the way to lift up the stretcher. Others feel like it's the job of the fire department. I actually asked a Medic to help me lift up the stretcher once, and he stared at me like I was speaking in tongues...so we did a "three corner" lift while he stood there and watched.