Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Professionalism 101

"Give me a drama delay."
"My patient needs to fix her hair and makeup."
"I'm 10-97."
"Yes, ma'am, yes ma'am, thank you ma'am, I'm here for you ma'am. You just let me know ma'am."
"CCCrrkkkkzz[garble]...NOPD here code three!"

Lately I've noticed a trend on the radio. In all my seventeen years of working for EMS in New Orleans, never have have I heard the amount of unnecessary chatter over the radio as is prevalent today. Oftentimes this chatter passes the bounds of steam-valve stress relief and strays into the realm of actual rudeness. In extreme circumstances, it can even create a hazard to our safety.

What do I mean? More often than not, we hear crews "walking" on each other on the radio in an effort to get their transmissions across. It is understandable that this may occasionally happen, particularly during hectic times. But I have noticed this happening far more frequently than in years past. The only factor I can attribute this to is simple discourtesy. Many times a shift, I will hear dispatch in the middle of a conversation with a crew, perhaps giving out details of a call or relaying other information, or maybe a crew asking for clarification of a location when in mid-transmission a different crew will barge in on the conversation with "put me Code 77 at Ochsner" or something to that effect. Cutting in on someone else's conversation is simply rude, particularly when it is centered on subject matter that can wait for a more appropriate time.

I am not saying that your Code 77 or your 10-10 or your on-scene delay isn't important. However there is no reason that any of these radio transmissions cannot wait for a few seconds until the current on-air discourse is finished. There are certain things that are vital to get out in a timely manner. Dispatching calls is one of them. A crew in danger is another. Requesting more units is another example. These radio transmissions must have first priority. But a large majority of our radio transmissions are simply routine status updates that should wait until whoever is on the radio finishes speaking.

"Professionalism" is an amalgam of many aspects of conduct. It is important that we treat our patients with respect and courtesy. We would never speak rudely to a physician that we were giving a report to. The mayor, the governor, the president - all deserve no less than the utmost respect when in conversation with them, regardless of our personal opinions of them. This is simply what is expected when dealing professionally with others. Should it be different when dealing with our co-workers? Courtesy, allowing others to finish their conversation, is one extremely important aspect of professionalism. Not barging in on a conversation already in progress is doubtless one of the things your mother taught you when you were a child. Though it may have been many years since Mother taught you this principle, it is no less in force today.

It is human nature that we feel that what we have to say is the most important thing at the moment. It takes practice and conscious effort to temper this impulse. Next time you need to key up your radio, take a split second to listen and determine if there is a conversation already underway. If there is, wait a few seconds if you're just giving a routine status update. No one will die if you go 10-10 a few seconds late. Lives do not hang in the balance regarding your "drama delay." If you are in a critical situation, please break in on the radio, by all means. Look at the radio conversation at the top of this post. Which do you think is the most important transmission? Which transmission is yours? Please, just be polite!

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have been saying that for a while now. Of course you get everyone agreeing that it happens to often, then those very people turn around and cut someone off. As if it was bad enough they get angry when some needs what they say repeated or cuts them off. The best park it is those with time and FTO on their tags which do it the most. Don't tell them anything like most here you haven't been here long enough to tell me something. Heard that to many times. I will stop now just could go on and on about this.

Sean said...

By the way, I completely realize that I have sometimes been just as much at fault as anyone else. I am not trying to say I'm not guilty; only that this is something that we should try to improve as a group. As I've said many times, this is the best group of people I've ever worked with. We can all do our best to improve!
-Fitz

T-MAN said...

The first post was mine, not sure why it came out as anonymous. As Sean said we all do this at times, some will take the moment and say sry for doing so. Then as I said most get upset and then with a heavy tone just repeat themselves as if they have been bothered to do so. No it isn't just older medics but it does seem that they are the ones that get more irrate about it. Then we all complain about comm centers attitudes when they get bombarded by multiple people attempting to speak at once. But that is a different subject all together!!

BB said...

The worst part of all is simply the attitude that is freely given to anyone at any time. And that goes for both sides of the radio. That detracts from our professionalism more than anything. Radio etiquette dictates that only necessary traffic is transmitted, preferably in concise plain english, without intonation or unnecessary inflections. Also "yeah baaaby" or "yerd me" or similar is not really appropriate. Just sayin'....

Sean said...

BB? Who dat? Very good points.

keeley said...

Thanks for the reminder Sean...boy are you right. We are ALL guilty of interrupting each other at some time or another. Just to add a little more to your post...i believe dispatch should be a tad bit more patient when trying to raise a crew that is already at the er. That constant calling of whatever unit number and toning them every 5 seconds is VERY annoying..give the crew time to answer you they could be in the middle of moving the pt over,giving report,10-42..etc.Happy Holidaze to all

Gordon said...

Shaddap T Man, you haven't been there long enough to say anything ;) By the way, speaking of profesionalism y'all remeber that classic exchange between Yolanda B. and Jo Jo...
Merry Christmas all...
Scooter