@ckemtp has asked for posts this month on the topic of Respect for ‘The Handover’ Blog carnival.

This is a field I occasionally feel like a bit of an impostor in. I’m not a Paramedic. I’m not a Doctor, a nurse or an Ambulance Technician. I am what I would call, an advanced First Aider. Mountain Rescue calls me a Casualty Carer and shows me how to deal with fractures, give drugs, inject people and care for people. St John Ambulance calls me a Patient Transport Attendant and teaches me to use AEDs, gases, use the equipment in an ambulance and care for people. But for all the journals I read and the knowledge that I gain, I’m a first aider.

Over the years, I’ve had respect from patients, health care professionals, members of the public and members of the armed forces. I’ve recently had a number of comments from healthcare professionals that have made me realise that there’s a lot of respect out there for volunteers in this country. Comments from members of the public, from the twitterverse, from friends and even from senior ambulance service officers have all demonstrated that they respect the work that we do. Some of then even respect that while we would like to work for the Ambulance service, some can’t because the NHS isn’t known for the luxurious lifestyles afforded by the salaries and mortgages aren’t known to be cheap things these days.

I’ve also had people treat me with significant amounts of disrespect because I, like thousands of other people in this country, are volunteers. We’re not paid healthcare professionals – but that doesn’t mean we aren’t professional in our work, whether that’s paid or not. I’ve seen Paramedics disrespected by staff in the hospitals, by patients and by their colleagues. Equally I’ve seen patients disrespected by their carers – and of all the disrespect I’ve seen, that one leaves the worst taste in my mouth.

Ingore me because I’m a volunteer. Treat me badly because you’ve had a bad experience with the commercial arm of St John. Swear at your officers. Argue with paramedics in the middle of your A&E department. They all leave a bad taste with the people around. But treat your patients with respect, even when they don’t deserve it. A mentor of mine once pointed out that we’re invited into people’s lives at moments that are significant and horrible for them – for us, it’s just another job, just another DIB, another MI. We’re invited into their lives and they share with us the most intimate details of their personal lives, their troubles, their fears. He taught me to treat my patients like human beings, simple things like asking everyone to leave the room when the paramedic is putting the leads on a woman’s chest because she has to bear her torso to do so.

I’ve learned respect and I’ve learned to earn the respect of my patients. I’ve learned that everyone has a story, even if they seem like assholes and I’ve learned to respect that people can appear like assholes when they’re going through a traumatic time.

Respect. Disrespect. Which will you chose?

5 Responses to “Respect”

  1. […] http://www.thinknuts.net/2010/03/29/respect/ – @ThinkNuts,our UK mountain rescue friend brings forth this post about respecting your patients. It’s a good lesson for us all. […]

  2. joan ludbrook says:

    Hi aled most deff respect for all your great work, done voluntary please cary on with what u are doing! saving lives!
    all the best

  3. Good post Aled. (Meant to say so the first time I read it.)

    You show plenty of respect for your patients. I believe doing Community First Responder work for the last three years has made me a better person.

    I could always show sympathy as a First Aider (25+ years) even if I didn’t feel it. However, as you say, people invite us into their homes and tell us stuff they’d have told no one other than their closest family – if them. I now feel sympathy and respect, rather than just show it (or at least in the vast majority of cases).

    I also have the privilege of working with some great people – not just the BRILLIANT EMS professionals, but with carers both paid and unpaid. That’s why I sometimes take a little time out to talk to carers who are not going with the patient. They’ve done their bit and a little praise and encouragement, and an explanation where appropriate, mean a lot to them. I’ve experienced this as a First Aider at work or in the street when someone from the Ambulance Service has simply aid “Nice job!”.

    Great blog; you’re now a link from my site.

  4. Aled says:

    Thank you for the kind words, they’re much appreciated – as much as the “Nice job!” is. 🙂

  5. Shang Lee says:

    You’ve just invited me into your life. 🙂 thank you for the wonderful article. And keep up with your work, eventhough not everyone will thank you for it.