“Good things come to those who wait.” – a retired firefighter, no doubt
Now that my days of responding to emergencies are over, I get to go through my days at my own pace, which is neither too slow nor too fast, but somewhere in the middle. I have done both, and learned from both; always seemed the faster I went the longer it took me to get to where I needed to go, and the slower I moved the more frustrated I became, not to mention how frustrated the people waiting for me to get there got!
The EMS Shuffle
“Slow and steady wins the race.” – Aesop
“Of course, we can always move too slowly.” – Me
We have all seen it, and most of us have done what I refer to as The EMS Shuffle. Not only do we do it, we defend the practice as if it were our exclusive right as first responders to stroll toward an emergency, or perceived emergency at our own pace, even if that is as slow as a sickly old turtle.
Nonsense I say. There is nothing more frustrating, stress elevating, infuriating and downright ridiculous as an emergency responder acting as if there is no need to hurry. We can claim that fools rush in, and caution is king, and only Yahoo’s or people hoping to capture the attention of a cameraman and get on the news are those who run all day long, but I suspect even we know how empty those excuses are.
Experienced medics never run goes the conventional wisdom. Well, my wisdom must be unconventional, because I have no problem with a spirited dash to a patient in need. I’m not suggesting an all out sprint, but a little pep in your step never hurt anybody.
Like it or not, The EMS Shuffle will be misinterpreted as laziness or lack of caring by those waiting for us to arrive. Their emotions are at a high level already, no sense giving them even more time to feed their hunger for somebody to blame. My advice, for what it’s worth? Move with purpose, walk briskly most of the time, and jog when needed. It won’t kill you, and might even save a life now and then.
Move it Buster!
“Moving fast is not the same as going somewhere.” – Robert Anthony
“We tend to run faster when we have lost our way.” – Me
I’ve seen it, done it, and will probably do it again. Bad idea, this running faster thing. The faster I run, the more problems I run into, and the fewer problems I solve. A steady, productive pace is needed most times, even when another person’s life is at stake. One of the more intimidating challenges I’ve faced was being in charge of an ALS unit during a cardiac arrest. The first few times my natural inclination to go faster took over, and I was three steps ahead of myself rather than focusing on what I was doing. I’ve learned to slow down, take each task as one accomplishment that has a beginning and an end, then move on to the next one. I’ve also learned to trust people, and to delegate. Many hands make light work a wise man once said, and it is great advice.
One thing is certain: No matter how quickly or how slowly we move, life keeps coming at us. Now that I’m finished with responding to other people’s emergencies, I think my best course of action is to sit back, enjoy a nice cold beverage, and let things come to me!
“Pace Yourself” – My Dad
Michael Morse is a former captain with the Providence (RI) Fire Department (PFD), an author, and a popular columnist. He served on PFD’s Engine Co. 2., Engine Co. 9, and Ladder Co. 4 for 10 years prior to becoming an EMT-C on Rescue Co 1 and Captain of Rescue Co. 5.