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How Are You Treating your EMS Crews?

Lately we have all seen the viral sensations to stomp out nursing bullying. The attempt to eradicate the demeaning behaviors older and more experienced nurses sometimes bestow upon those younger and newer. While the cause is noble, nurse bullying is not just isolated within the profession. In fact, I could argue some of the worst bullying I have seen in healthcare is initiated by nurses towards those in other patient care positions.

I understand that nursing is full of rivalries. I mean the folks of the ICU and ER can be intermingled better than an Oregonian vegan hipster peddling organic hemp love bracelets to gun toting, Trump loving ultra-conservatives of the Eastern Kentucky Appalachian Mountains. But there is one relationship I’ve watched many nurses work little to cultivate and in fact, I witness a large lack of understanding and growing disrespect daily. I am talking about the relationship between nurses and EMS.

Now while I admit there is a large number of nurses that do respect our pre-hospital brothers and sisters…and not just because they love the bunker pants and suspenders… there is also a growing number of those who do not. Unfortunately, as a Critical Care Transport RN, I am not only witnessing this treatment first hand, I am actually experiencing it!

There is an odd presumption that those who are pre-hospital are somehow ‘beneath’ those that work within the hospital. That some unwritten hierarchy exists and as such, those who are performing care in the field are not as knowledgeable, have less education, care less for their patients, and don’t work as hard. I’m here to tell you that is far from correct, its disgusting, and it needs to stop.

I cannot count the times I have watched a nurse treat an EMS crew with disrespect when they have brought in a patient. And trust me, I understand we as nurses are overworked and busy, but have you ever imagined completing your work…alone…in the back of a 5’x8’ box barreling down a bumpy highway with limited time?

I have watched nurses scoff at ems crews for failing to get an IV, criticize a dressing, or even ‘allow’ the patient to urinate on themselves. I have watched NPs and Triage nurses grill paramedics as if they were hiding some bit of information or were purposely avoiding a treatment. I have seen hospital staff ignore crews that have arrived with a patient, watched them navigate a hospital they don’t know well, and ready the patient in the room, moving them to the bed, and THEN decide to come to greet them while criticizing how they moved items around. I have listened to staff groan and moan about the cleanliness of their patients, the lack of knowledge an ems crew has, or even the miscalculation of an ETA.

In all honesty, if you have never worked pre-hospital, then you cannot imagine the skill level it actually takes. The level of multitasking, assessment skills, improvisation, critical thinking, and medical knowledge required is nothing short of astounding. In fact, due to the lack of understanding I have personally witnessed, I believe all ER, ICU and Critical Care nurses should be required to participate in at least 24 hours’ worth of ‘clinicals’ with both ALS and BLS pre-hospital crews to perhaps give us a better understanding of what they have to deal with daily.

So, to my hospital staff, my nurses, doctors, unit secretaries, CNAs and all others, understand that these crews have less resources, less time, and less support then you could ever work with, and often they not only stabilize your patient SO YOU can care for them, but they maintain cordial even when you are not. Respect OUR EMS crews, stop the bullying, and realize they do what many of you couldn’t.