Frustrated. Photo by Wavebreak Media Ltd.

Mentoring EMTs On Clinical Ride-Alongs

A number of years ago, when I was a fresh-faced EMT student back in Michigan, as part of both Medic school and EMT, like all other students in this field, I too was required to do clinicals in the hospital and on a rig. These were long, tiring and unpaid ride-alongs and they were usually with people who didn’t want me there.

That brings me to the topic at hand: As an EMT or Medic on the Rig, while mentoring these new EMT and medic students on these ride-alongs, how should we behave?

Many of us can recall our clinical experiences without the slightest of prodding; those long hours in the back of an Ambulance — those long and late hours working in the ER or waiting in line with the anesthesiologist to try to get our required intubations.

Personally, I hated it. I would sit there thinking to myself, I am giving 600 hours of my life to this Ambulance Company or hospital for free and what am I getting in return?”  I’m getting mad — that’s what!! Because I am with a couple of mean, nasty, cranky, worn out medics or EMTs that want nothing to do with me or more importantly the industry they CHOSE to be in.

I said to myself that when I finally go to work on an Ambulance, I would take the time to talk to the students that do their clinicals with us. I will let them sit in front for a while, while I sit in back. I will let them use the tools and practice the skills they are supposed to be practicing. I will act like I truly enjoy what I am doing and not complain about my company, my lot in life, and my pay. And I will show gratefulness towards the industry that in essence, selected ME to be a part of it.

Week after week my current students come back from their ride-alongs and tell me the horror stories of their experiences with the team they shared a rig with for 12 or 24 hours. From a crew that would not bother to even speak to them, to crews playing cards in the station and talking about inappropriate things while complaining about their jobs and the company they work for, while in the BUILDING of the company they are working for. Talk about gull!

When you mentor a fresh new EMT or Medic, it is your RESPONSIBILITY to act like a professional, to behave like an adult, and to treat the student and the patient like they are gold. Take the time to learn about their goals, their families, their ambitions and share with them the trials and tribulations you went through getting to where you are at. Take the time to show them they matter and you care!

And remember this. One day, you will be old or sick and someone might have to call the fire department or an Ambulance to come to your house. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that the people coming to help you once were the students that you helped and treated well? Or would you rather treat them poorly and just see what happens when the time comes for them to help you?

Choose wisely, as your life may depend upon it!

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Jack Murphy
Jack Murphy is a licensed firefighter, EMT and EMS Instructor in Michigan and California, holds a JD in real estate law and BA in History as well as numerous industry related certifications. These days Jack teaches a Hybrid EMT program at a small College in the Los Angeles area.

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