Friday, December 17, 2010

Raising the Bar...

What does it mean to you to put on the uniform?? Is it about you?? Or is it about the patients we treat?? All to often we get think about how it inconveniences us. Guess what... YOU are in the customer service industry. It is about the PATIENT. A fellow co-worker wrote this letter to the rest of us and allowed me to share it with you: 

"People who made EMS their profession, understand relatively quickly that a sense of monotony can set in when we get toned out - yet again - to a local senior's residence. It becomes easy to feel like these simple, routine calls are a poor use of our time and skills while we sit or what may be hours in a hospital hallway with non-acute patients. We may forget that our patients, despite any age or chronic-related ailments afflicting them, did at one time live full, vibrant lives. As practitioners we need to step back and recognize the human element of our industry and not just focus on treating medical conditions. We need to take a holistic view of the patient - examining physical, mental and emotional health.

One evening while working with Calgary Metro EMS, our crew witnessed how much impact we can have not only on a patient and their family, but how connecting with a patient and showing a little extra compassion can significantly impact ourselves as health care professionals.

On arriving at the hospital and being triaged to the hallway, our patient was becoming increasingly agitated and frustrated with his situation. Just when it seemed we were running out of options to appease our patient, the Crew Chief informed us he'd spoken with the unit nurse where our patient's wife was and we were permitted to bring him up to see her. There, we found a very frail woman, seemingly unaware of her surroundings and struggling to breathe. the unit nurse said she felt there was a strong likelihood the woman would not survive the night and that she'd been unresponsive for the last several weeks. We were able to make room for our patient's bed in the small room, aligning the beds head to foot. At that moment, our patient took the hand of his wife, ending two months of separation, and uttered the words, "hello love." The crew watched as the woman who only a moment before was struggling for a breath and not able to acknowledge the movement in her room, looked up in recognition, smiled and squeezed the hand of her husband of 52 years, saying "Hi". We and the nurse watched in shock at the change in both patients - a true moment of peace radiated throughout the room. We left the patient's room to allow the couple a moment of privacy, allowing them to say their good buys, when we wiped away our won tears. When we re-entered the room, both wife and husband seemed to be at peace. As we wheeled the husband out of the room the last words passed between the couple was when the husband whispered the words "I love you, and I will see you again soon".

Our patent was then taken back down the emergency department where he reclined contentedly. The Crew Chief then went out and spoke to the son explaining that we had taken his father to see his mother. The sone was overcome by emotion. he thanked the crew for taking the time and effort in showing compassion and empathy, and for bringing his parents together for what could be the final time.

We later learned that the patient's wife died an hour after the reunion and our patient died the following day. They were buried together two days later. This confirmed that the decision to take a moment out of our busy night shift to do something extra for our patient allowed this couple and their family the peace, dignity and respect they deserved.

It was just another night shift at Calgary Metro EMS."

This is OUR duty as EMS professionals. 


  1. I'm a big fan of this post. It's good to see other people that "get it" outside of our #CoEMS circle. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Well done. Good read, great story, and the right attitude.

  3. A small gesture will have a huge impact. Without a doubt, you made a difference that night. Keep up the high quality of care!

  4. I wish I could say this was me... just passing on another crews' awesome work... proud to call them my coworkers!!

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    Have a great day!