A Life and Death Game of Telephone: Don’t Trust The Dispatch Notes

The tones drop. “Unit 1453 respond on channel 18 for a child who fell on a knife.” As we pull out of the bay code three we receive a message: “profuse bleeding.” There was no further information. We have an eight-minute response time. During this eight minutes you begin to run through possible scenarios. How would I treat the penetrating trauma? What items can I use to stabilize the knife? If it’s on a limb I could consider a tourniquet.

The information we receive is only as reliable as the person who’s on scene with the patient. With that said, as a new EMT or Paramedic you should take that information with a grain of salt. As a new provider focusing in on the information from dispatch can cause you to tunnel vision. Expecting a knife lodged in a child and then walking into sometime completely opposite can throw you for a loop mentally.

The seasoned provider doesn’t fall into this trap and can change on the fly. They’re smooth. A Paragod so to speak. The new guy not so much. Focusing on the information from the caller and arriving with a preconceived idea of what’s going on could contribute to you missing something.

Tunnel Vision.

This particular call had nothing to do with a knife, it was a simple laceration that a child gets from running around in a mad craze like children often do. If you really take a moment to put yourself in that parent’s shoes. Just a small amount of blood could be “profuse” in their eyes. They’re calling 911 in a mad craze, on their worst day seeking help. Also, don’t blame the dispatcher, we’re all a team.

Read the information provided prior to arrival, consider it, and remind yourself that the call could be anything upon arrival. Exit the truck with an open mind ready to treat whatever the world could throw at you.

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