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Working with others, 1

Greg M.

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Consider this part one of a two part topic, "Working with others."

Part 1 is about the flight crew member working with care givers outside of your agency.  Being on a flight crew means you will be working with first responders, fire departments, law enforcement and hospital staff.  How these people view you and your crew is the difference of, "That flight crew is AWESOME!" or, "That flight crew is a bunch of premadonnas!"  

You only get one chance of making this work, and first impressions are everything.  Early in our flight crew, maybe the first year we started, we had a new nurse that thought she was god's gift to emergency services. On my first call with her, we had landed at a small rural hospital to pick up a severely injured patient. I'll never forget her first words to the doctor after receiving a report from him. She looked at him and the nurses and boldly said, "You people don't know shit about trauma!" Needless to say, we weren't invited back to that hospital for almost six months.

You will often be called to a scene or another facility to pick up a patient, often, you will not totally agree with the treatment to this point.  The next steps you take will make you a hero or a zero. If things are really bad, you may politely take report, move the patient out to the aircraft/helicopter and then change things or treatments to what you believe should be done. You can argue the point that this is not helping the small facility in any treatment in the future, but this is not be the time to embarrass anyone. A follow up phone call to the facility may be your best solution.  Telling them what transpired en flight, and how you had to change a few things.  This will discreetly educate the crew and help them in the future.

When I was in school, our speech class had to read a book titled, "Winning the image game." Being the typical student, I thought most published books were a waist of time, but after reading this, and a visit by the author, who was the image consultant from Disney, I was so impressed that I took the book to our program director and made him read it.  We then changed many of our tactics on public relations, and working with others.  I believe one of the biggest changes we made was to simply listen.  When you land at a scene or walk into an ED or ICU, take a moment to get a report for the first responders, nurses, or doctor taking care of the patient, and take notes. This reinforces that you are listening. If they think you are not paying attention, or continually cutting them off, they will just give up.  After their report, thank them for what they have done. 

Our Chief Flight Nurse cornered me and my usual night crew one evening and wanted to know what we were doing. At first we thought we were in trouble, but after a little more of the story came out, she had been told that there had been a couple IFT request that were held in some hospitals until the night shift came on. These hospitals wanted our crew to come pick up their patients.  Of course the jokes started as to why we were the best, but in reality, were we really better, or was the other shift just not doing something as well.  We were then broken up for a while and worked with others to teach them the simplest things, listen, pay attention, take notes, and thank them for what they have done.  Needless to say, within a year, we were one of the busiest helicopters in northern California. 

Remember, image is everything, patient care will follow. 

Watch for, Working with others 2, 

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