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Learning From a Pandemic: A Paramedic's Perspective

By Jessie Senini

It’s a bit strange to sit here thinking about our new normal in this COVID world. In the last three months, our lives have changed dramatically. We have changed dramatically. I believe things will never be quite the same.

There is a silver lining in all this, though, and that is our ability to handle change. That ability comes from the experiences with time-sensitive emergencies that most medics reading this blog are familiar with. We are emergency medicine. We are a dynamic group that is quick to adapt and problem solve. In essence . . . we’ve got this. We don’t panic. We take a thousand-foot view and narrow down to quick actions that make the most sense based on the collective years of emergency response we have under our belts. Now, when we finally have a chance to breathe and look back on these three months, we can finally see the results of our actions, and in many ways, apply it to our brave new world.

We have the benefit of using the lessons learned during these times to carry over into any type of situation. And we should apply them, since that’s an imperative part to breaking a cycle of repetitive history. So, here are three things I have learned as a Client Services Specialist and Paramedic during this pandemic.
  1. We tend to overcomplicate things.

    If you think about it, COVID-19 is a time-sensitive emergency. We have a medical crisis that spreads quickly and is not biased. We need to execute a plan that minimizes disruptions and delays, and attempts to stop the rapid rate of infection.

    medics-pt-scene-hospital-appWe need a solid, effective regional communication tool in place that conveys real-time information across international, state, and local agencies. It’s simple: streamline communication, reduce the number of platforms you use to do this, and group the right people together (digitally, of course). Wouldn’t it be great if we had an app that could be implemented in a remote and fast manner that is quick to download and teach? That communication solution exists, and it can help us streamline coordination and connect the right members of the care team on the same channel, with the right information, at the right time. Simplifying communication is a great place for us to start preparing for the future. I promise you: it’s way less complicated than fantasy football.

  2. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

    I hate it when my mom is right. While hindsight is 20/20, the question now becomes: why did we wait for a pandemic to shine light on our regional communication gaps? Between med control systems, remote provider-to-patient video calls, and Operation Command transport designations (with many between different EMS and Hospital systems), we should be strategizing how we can build a communication relationship between organizations that is easy to maintain and support. We need to be taking a proactive approach to having a regional system of care, instead of waiting for these emergencies to happen before we turn around and rush to build the infrastructure for it. That only results in more panic and frustration for everyone involved.

  3. Finally: It’s their emergency, not yours.

    STOCK-ems-medics-ptAt first this seems a little counterintuitive, and I don’t mean this to say that we shouldn’t execute our plans in a timely fashion. This is an old paramedic proverb that reminds us that if we feed off of the panicked mindset of those around us, we will give in to rushing and make poor decisions and mistakes. When we take a calm and collected approach, we can be much more systematic and effective. We lay a solid foundation for professional care to be rendered. We help patients far more by remaining calm. 
In spite of all the craziness, let’s not miss this chance to be forever students and take these opportunities to learn and plan for our future. These types of situations will repeat themselves—let’s be the generation to adapt, overcome, and conquer.
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Jessie Senini

Jessie Senini

Jessie is a paramedic with a talent for web design, and serves as a Regional Client Services Specialist for the Southern U.S.

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