I recently returned from the Paramedics Australasia Conference in Sydney. Six days of travel, breaking away from the daily routine, plunging myself in to a large metropolis. But, most importantly, being amongst the brightest and most enthusiastic bunch of paramedics and paramedic-associated people nationally with some great international guests.
Day one in Sydney was a gentle awakening on a beautiful morning – ideal for a run around the harbour.
After catching up with some friends for lunch (good burritos, but nothing compared to the San Francisco one I had with @setla!), I caught up with an long-time paramedic friend, who has always been very supportive of me, and actually brought me to the world of international paramedical travels – he has worked in six services in four countries himself, not to mention the many more he has visited along the way.
One interesting topic we came on to was that of the paramedic profession, the perception of the public, and media. As anybody who has worked out on the road for more than a couple of weeks quickly comes to realise, the public’s opinion of our role, and the actual role we have in healthcare differs vastly. Two things of interest we discussed:
1. Communication between the people and the service:
- Some people expect and demand an instant response. Like any other service, how about giving estimated arrival times, not only “the paramedics have been dispatched, and are en route to you” for urgent jobs, but also “We currently have a high workload, and due to the nature of the call, you have been assigned a low priority call. It could take up to [x] minutes until a paramedic can attend”.
- People often call us for an emergency because they overreacted in the initial situation. Recent trials in different services have ‘introduced’ the question of “did you regret calling an ambulance?”, both for calltakers and on road paramedics. Additionally, the calltakers let the callers know that they can be called back if they want to cancel the paramedic response.
2. Communication between the people and the media:
- Where does the public get a vast majority of their education from? The media. We should use this vehicle much more extensively to get our cause across to the public. Keep the TV shows, but have paramedic consultants and continuous paramedic input – the underlying message is important. Tell Joe Blow on the street what we can do, but also what we [i]can’t[i]. Inject some more realism.
I’m sure there is already a beginning of this out there, but it needs significant ramping up.
We need people with contacts within the media, who are willing to push our cause.