Stop what you are doing. Read this story from Ambulance Driver blog. Don’t come back until you have read the whole story. I’ll wait for you.
While listening to the EMS Educast episode 6, Dr. Joseph Weiner, a psycologist was talking about how to teach EMTs compassion. He had a few really good ideas, including just simply talking to the patient. Ask the patient about their life, inquire about what interests them.
During my induction to transport medicine (chuck runs), the goal was to finish all your paperwork prior to arriving at your destination. Rarely did I engage the patient in conversation (save for the few talkers we would transport, then I usually faked listening while completing paperwork). I did not consider myself as the dispationate burnt out EMT, I was just trying to get my work done. After a while I would engage the patients, try to brighten their day, or just pass the time (although I would try to multi task and I would write while talking).
Now, I find that I either don’t have the time to do paperwork, or (especially after listening to the show) I just try to show a little more compassion towards my patients. Most of the people are from nursing homes and rarely do they get to talk to new people outside their circle.
I have always been interested in sociology (albiet from a distance) and the history of the individual people who live through historic times. I have been transporting these people for years now and I have only just begun to truely listen to them, and learn what I can. There are some very depressing stories. A few patients don’t get to talk to anyone, until the ambulance picks them up for their dialysis appointment, and after they return to a house, void of human interaction, they turn on the TV and wait until we return.
A few stories have left me sadder for the day, but I hope that the patients gain from our short interaction.