Education might just save a life
Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics share a passion for helping people, and many have chosen their career because they want to help save lives. As a paramedic, I have personally had the incredible experience of successfully reviving a number of patients who have lived to express their gratitude directly to me.
But I don’t feel that saving a life is necessarily the biggest difference I can make. I believe that educating the public is probably where emergency services professionals can make the biggest difference.
Consider the fact that a person in cardiac arrest reduces their chance of survivability by 10 percent each passing minute without intervention. By the time five minutes have passed, they have a 50-50 chance of survival. Consider also that it takes an average time of five to seven minutes for emergency services personnel to arrive on the scene. The critical hand which makes a difference may not be that of the EMT, but may well be your own.
The greatest chance for affecting survivability rates lies in the education of citizens to use CPR and automated external defibrillators (AEDs).
As a member of the local emergency medical trauma advisory committee, I have worked with my colleagues to increase the number of AEDs in public places such as libraries, shopping centers, post offices and so on. You’ve probably seen them, as they are typically housed in prominent wall-mounted boxes inside a building. AEDs are now more widely available than ever before.
Whereas CPR can maintain some circulation in the body (about 40 percent of what the heart typically does), it is defibrillation that can restart the heart. Knowing how and when to use an AED is the critical part of responding to an emergency. And once again, the sooner that can happen, the greater the chance of survivability.
Prepare yourself to assist as best you are able. Be cognizant of where the AEDs are located in your workplace or other public places you frequent. And keep up on current CPR methods, as those are always re-evaluated and changes are made.
In my 15 years of work in the emergency medical services field, it’s education that I’ve found to be most rewarding, whether that be the education of new EMTs, or the ongoing training of current providers, or introducing basic CPR and first aid to community members.
Chris Jackson is a certified firefighter/paramedic and is the full-time lead faculty in the emergency medical services program at Colorado Mountain College in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Rifle. CMC offers a full range of EMT training classes as well as Community First Aid & CPR classes.
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