Sunday, March 28, 2010

Chronicles of EMS - An EMS Reality Series That Tells The Truth!

I know you tell war stories. I certainly do. And the questions that your non-EMS audience ask sometimes make you laugh. "How do you deal with death all day, every day?" "Do you have to cut cars up all the time?" "What's the worst call you've ever been on?" If you've spent more than twenty minutes in the back of an ambulance, you know all too well that such calls, while memorable, are the exception rather than the rule. Instead, on a typical shift we wonder about which frequent-fliers we'll be transporting, how many drunks we'll be scraping up, if it's nursing home Dump Day and where we're going to try to eat lunch. And we try not to think about who's footing the bill for our services. Sometimes we long for someone to tell our story- our real story, not some overly dramatized spectacle.

Your wish has been granted.

With Chronicles of EMS, Thaddeus Setla and Chris Montera have created an EMS reality series on the web that tell the REAL story in EMS. You can follow along with San Francisco paramedic/firefighter Justin Schorr and Mark Glencorse from North East Ambulance Service in the United Kingdom and see American EMS as it really is. No explosions, no Code 3 club, and every patient isn't dying from some unlikely scenario. Mark & Justin run actual EMS calls in San Francisco and show what it's really like to be an EMT - dealing with the chronic bullshit, the homeless, the drunks and occasionally even a real patient ("Trauma" on NBC, are you listening?). Also of note is Justin's warning to Mark - no meal breaks!

It's interesting to see Mark's reaction to the way EMS is run here; he's a paramedic in England. Compare his comments about U.K. EMS with the way it goes in the States. It was a long time in the making, as Justin explains in the first part of the video. Facebook, Twitter and blogs played a key part in CoEMS' creation, and I'm happy to have had a miniscule influence in it. The guys have done an outstanding job illustrating what we really do.

Watch episode one of Chronicles of EMS here.

And if you'd like to follow everyone on Twitter-
Follow Justin Schorr here.
You can follow Thaddeus Setla on Twitter here.
Follow Mark Glencorse on Twitter here.
And follow Chris Montera here.
And don't forget to join the Facebook page of Chronicles of EMS!
CoEMS is sponsored by Zoll (still my favorite monitors).

Looking forward to Episode 2 and more!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Sticky Situation

OK here's an interesting scenario and I'd like to hear from you. According to this story a Jefferson Parish deputy recorded on his cell phone the dying testimony of a gunshot victim while in the back of the ambulance. 

My question: Is this OK or not OK? We all know HIPPA law prevents any of us medical people from recording images, voice or any specifics about patients, particularly if they will be made public (as this recording surely would be). Even our conversations must be tailored so as not to divulge such information. Does HIPPA include such informal legal testimony? If you were the paramedic, would you prevent the deputy from recording your patient? If there were no police around, would YOU record the patient's testimony?

The legal implications seem frought with peril. A video is far more convincing evidence in court than the debatable memory of a paramedic who was distracted with patient care. On the other hand, remember the trial of the shooters at the Louisiana Avenue car wash? They were acquitted despite there being a video of them shooting. How much of a risk would it be to your job if you knowingly allowed a police officer to video record your patient?

Oh, and if you are the paramedic who was on this scene, I'd love to hear from you about any backlash or issues that may have come up with this.

Write your comments using the link below. Thanks!