In high school, I enrolled in a semester of EMT training. This was awesome and I nearly went off and became a paramedic because of it. But it also taught me some very important things about EMTs in California in the 1990s: they were essentially glorified cab drivers.
Administer drugs? Couldn’t do that. Put in an IV? Nope. Emergency tracheotomy using a pocket knife and a pen? Stop watching medical dramas, please.
Essentially, this was what I learned in my EMT course:
- If they’re bleeding, use stuff to stop or slow the bleeding, and get them to the hospital.
- If they’re cool, pale, and diaphoretic, get them to the hospital.
- Children go downhill very fast. Get them to the hospital.
- If the patient is in cardiac arrest, check airway, breathing, and circulation. Then you can administer CPR. And get them to the hospital.
- Use a cervical collar if you so much as suspect a spinal injury. Put them in one before you get them to the hospital.
- If someone is having a severe allergic response, try and get their consent before using their EpiPen on them. Then get them to the hospital.
- Sucking chest wounds sound awesome, but please get them to the hospital.
- If they were on fire, definitely put them out before getting them to the hospital.
- Downed powerlines are a hell of a way to die. Do not underestimate them. Getting you to a hospital probably won’t help if you stumble into a live current.
- Everybody lies.
I’ll probably re-read my old EMT manual sometime between now and labor. I’ve signed us up for a CPR course, and when Mike’s mom arrives we’ll get her certified as well. Basically, my first aid breaks down to this: can it be treated with a bandaid and a kiss? No? Then call 911 and get them to a hospital.