Fire EMS

The Importance of Vital Signs

Issue 10 and Volume 160.

HOW VITAL ARE VITAL SIGNS? What do they really tell us? As firefighter/EMTs and firefighter/paramedics, we are judged by peer chart review, quality improvement (QI), and sometimes a lawyer during a deposition. If we always know why we’re doing what we’re doing and can support our actions with clear-cut reasons, then our care is appropriate and will withstand peer scrutiny (and the scrutiny of a lawyer or jury). Vital signs are an important component of patient care. They determine which treatment protocols to follow, provide critical information needed to make life-saving decisions, and confirm feedback on treatments performed. Accurate, documented vital signs are a very important part of EMS. The four components of a set of vitals include blood pressure (BP), pulse, respiratory rate, and temperature. In the field, we may be very precise, such as a “heart rate of 136 beats per minute”; at other times, we might infer…

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