Do and Don't of being a ride-along?

burnsmh

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Hey guys, I am signing up for my clinical runs next week. There will be the option of 12 hour shift or 24 hour shift.

I have to do 56 hours of Ambulance and 24 hours of E.R.

What helpful tips can you give me so that I can really impress my proctors? Should I offer to clean a lot? Should I ask a lot of questions? Should I keep my mouth shut? Just let me know what YOU look for in a ride-along/intern...

Thanks in advance.
 

Aprz

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Hey guys, I am signing up for my clinical runs next week. There will be the option of 12 hour shift or 24 hour shift.
I expect a 24 hour shift will probably be in a more rural area, and 12 hour shifts in a metro area. The pros about being in a rural area is that the EMT/paramedic often get to do more things for their patients during transport, however, they get less patients. Ambulances in a metro area will have significantly shorter transport and probably do less. I feel like ambulances are abused more in metro area and tend to get less sick patients too.

What helpful tips can you give me so that I can really impress my proctors?
First, this shouldn't be about impressing anyone. The focus for you particularly is to learn, but the end all be all is safe patient transport and excellent patient care so that will take a priority over everything else.

It's gonna depend on who you're working with. Hopefully you can get a feel for what they want.

Should I offer to clean a lot?
Offer to clean as needed ie the beginning of shift and after transporting patients (the gurney and monitor will usually be wiped down after patient care has been transferred).

Should I ask a lot of questions?
Be thoughtful about what you ask. I like people who ask me questions, but when they start asking me a ridiculous amount of questions I start getting tired of attempting to answer them. Treat it like a game of 20 questions where you have a limited amount of questions, and you should ask the ones that you feel are most important. You aren't literally limited to how many questions you can ask, but you do risk wearing down the crew you are working with if you ask an excessive amount.

It's also important to ask at the appropriate time and place. It's not always appropriate to ask a question in front of the patient that may make your crew look incompetent or when your crew hands are a little tied down for some reason. It's not always appropriate to ask right in the middle of a situation when you came up with the question(s).

Should I keep my mouth shut?
I know people say to keep your mouth shut, but I think people honestly mean they just want you to listen rather than shut up. It's probably has to do with a combination of people asking questions at inappropriate times and places and them not listening when you tell them something.

Just let me know what YOU look for in a ride-along/intern...

Thanks in advance.
Unfortunately, I have had very few ride alongs because I do not work on an ambulance that responds to 911 calls. The few that I had, I was disappointed because they were not preceptive, and I felt they were kinda fake trying to act like salty EMT/medics.

Just use sound judgement on what to do or say. Be preceptive, but take things with a grain of salt too. Who you ride along with may not be as knowledgeable as you believe, but don't treat them like they are dumb either. Your teacher(s) at school may not be as knowledgeable as you believe, and the crew you work with probably won't want to listen about how great your EMT instructor is for the next 12-24 hours either. Be yourself. As a student, it might be best to either use down time to study from a book and ask questions that are probably more difficult to answer outside of school because of equipment not being affordable for school nor necessary for EMT school (like radios, MDCs, EKG monitors, ventilators, ALS drugs and equipment, etc). Be polite.

Saying "thank you" goes a long way even when you already know the answer. People who tend to say "I know" tend to don't know when you need them to know, lol.

This is kinda difficult for me to say, but don't pretend to know something you don't know, but also don't be too afraid to do something you haven't done before? I dunno. I told a girl how to spike a bag, but didn't show her. I wanted her to spike it, but she just said "I don't know" and gave up immediately. Like I want people to say they don't know, but I kinda don't want them to give up immediately either.

You will probably see what I mean as you do more ride alongs and once you actually start to work and have ride alongs yourself.
 
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spnjsquad

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I've been running calls for 10 months now (3 of those months being a ride along), and I am going to tell you now: do not act like you know everything. The other people on the shift are here to help you and watch you learn, not listen to you show off your knowledge. Now, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't ask questions. Ask away! Just make sure that your questions aren't ridiculous. By that I mean ask about stuff that will actually benefit you through your calls and clinicals such as medications and certian protocols that your agency might follow if your not familiar with them. Also, it's good to offer to clean and straighten up around the building/rigs. It shows that you take some pride in your work, and people on crew would most likely rather like to see you helping and getting involved on non-call activities rather than just sitting around and twiddling your thumbs. Don't keep your mouth shut! You are here for a reason; to gain knowledge of the field of EMS, so use it to your advantage!
 
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johnrsemt

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What I did with ride a longs (when I was the rider): Show up early, look through the truck to get familiar with it before the crew shows up. This way I answered alot of my questions before I had to ask them. Such as: where is this item, where is that. Also gave me a list of questions to ask during or after checks: what is that for? how do you use this?
Ask the crews: do you mind if I ask questions? Some don't care how many or when, some want to wait till they wake up more.
Ask: What do you want me to take in with me? Some vary from call to call, some want the same thing every call: (airway bag for example).
Get familiar with the truck layout (so if you are sent to find something it doesn't take 20 minutes to get it). remember station to station some departments have different layouts for the same trucks.
Try to get familiar with the crews (if you ride with the same ones alot): Crew A likes to wake up for an hour before questions start, Crew B likes Airway bag on every run.

Jump in and do whatever you see them doing: if there is nothing going on ask what you can do: never sit while crews are doing shift duties.
This is also good on in house clinicals.
I used to go to the ED, and stock rooms with supplies at the beginning of every shift I worked. Helps you to know where stuff is, and it makes an impression. I had charge nurses that would come find me or overhead page me for good stuff; and when the nurses are happy, the doctors are happy and you get to see/do a lot of cool stuff.
 

Medic Tim

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Follow the company's or your schools dress code policy
-show up 10-15 min before your shift
-Make a good first impression. Introduce yourself, nice firm handshake and when you and your preceptor get a chance to... talk about what you are looking to get out of this and what he or she expects of you.
-if the crew is doing something ... you should be doing it to(there are a few exceptions to this) but if they are cleaning, restocking, truck check etc... get in there and help if they will let you.
-spend some time in the back of the truck to familiarize yourself with where things are.
-keep in mind that the protocols the service follows may differ from what you are being taught in school. Just because someone does something different from what you learned does not make it wrong.
-don't be the lazy and sleep or lounge around all day.
- Most importantly have fun

these are just a few. There are several threads here asking the same question. If you do a search you can most likely find them.
 

spnjsquad

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Follow the company's or your schools dress code policy
-show up 10-15 min before your shift
-Make a good first impression. Introduce yourself, nice firm handshake and when you and your preceptor get a chance to... talk about what you are looking to get out of this and what he or she expects of you.
-if the crew is doing something ... you should be doing it to(there are a few exceptions to this) but if they are cleaning, restocking, truck check etc... get in there and help if they will let you.
-spend some time in the back of the truck to familiarize yourself with where things are.
-keep in mind that the protocols the service follows may differ from what you are being taught in school. Just because someone does something different from what you learned does not make it wrong.
-don't be the lazy and sleep or lounge around all day.
- Most importantly have fun

these are just a few. There are several threads here asking the same question. If you do a search you can most likely find them.
Yeah, one bad first impression a ride along on my agency made was declining rig check. He showed up in a squad shirt, jeans and boat shoes even though I'm pretty sure the captain told him the dress code. He had never even been in an ambulance before, so we asked him to help us and he said "nah I'm fine", so we told him "listen when a call goes out and we need you to get something for us we need you to know where it is so we can have that equipment for the paitent as fast as possible." His response? "Nah don't worry about it, I'll do fine on my own." While we were spending most of crew straightening up, cleaning the rigs and even refreshing a bit on how to use the KED, he was just sitting there watching T.V. We even tried to get him involved several times, and each time the response was the same. We had a call that night for an unresponsive female and when we needed the reeves, he was out there for about 5 whole minutes before I had to leave my partner with the paitent and get it for him. His response? "Sorry man I didn't know." An extremely bad outlook for the field and it made me wonder why he considered joining in the first place.
 
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Medic Tim

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Yeah, one bad first impression a ride along on my agency made was declining rig check. He had never even been in an ambulance before, so we asked him to help us and he said "nah I'm fine", so we told him "listen when a call goes out and we need you to get something for us we need you to know where it is so we can have that equipment for the paitent as fast as possible." His response? "Nah don't worry about it, I'll do fine on my own." While we were spending most of crew straightening up, cleaning the rigs and even refreshing a bit on how to use the KED, he was just sitting there watching T.V. We even tried to get him involved several times, and each time the response was the same. We had a call that night for an unresponsive female and when we needed the reeves, he was out there for about 5 whole minutes before I had to leave my partner with the paitent and get it for him. His response? "Sorry man I didn't know." An extremely bad outlook for the field and it made me wonder why he considered joining in the first place.

That would get you sent home where I did my internship and where I have worked. They would have been told to come back when they are ready to participate and learn .
 

Rialaigh

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don't...DO NOT...tell any war stories or stories about what you have seen, don't talk about other medics, other crews, or how they do things. Basically be there to ask as many questions as you want that are relevant to the patients you see and their care. Don't compare their system to others you might have seen or heard of..etc...


TLDR - Ask as many questions as you want about your patient interactions and care without comparing to how others do things or might do things. This will go a long way towards not coming across as a jerk.
 

Chupathangy

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If you're going to be at station bring Ice Cream. You'll be everyone's best friend. Also try and get hands on while you're there. Some companies (like mine) have their own policy where students aren't really supposed to touch patients-_-. I doubt that happens at many places but if that's the case ask if you can practice with some of the equipment with the crew. Personally I always have the ride along try out some skills with us during down time E.G. splinting, V/S, gurney operating. But mainly, as Medic Tim said, have fun!
 

DrParasite

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If you're going to be at station bring Ice Cream. You'll be everyone's best friend.
Bagels are even better.

Ask your preceptor what you can and cannot do. questions are fine, but sometimes if they are asked at the wrong time, you might get snapped at. don't take it personally, just follow up after the call.

dress appropriately, respect the crew's education and experience, remember what happens in the classroom doesn't always translate to what happens in the field, and try to get as much hands on time as you can.

bring a book. if there is down time, read of study. do not spend all your spare time on facebook. if the crew is napping, read a book or study more.

carry something on calls. ask what you should carry in.

good luck, and enjoy it. I did one ride along 10+ years ago with the city EMS agency. we did something like 3 calls in 12 hours, and were posted in the center of the city. It was the slowest night shift ever, I spoke to one of the 911 supervisors afterwards, he said there was something like 30 EMS calls county wide, which is very abnormal. Talk about the curse of the student.
 

spnjsquad

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remember what happens in the classroom doesn't always translate to what happens in the field, and try to get as much hands on time as you can.
Exactly. Street EMS at times can be a lot different than what you may have learned in your class.
 

MrJones

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If you're going to be at station bring Ice Cream. You'll be everyone's best friend....
Bagels are even better....
I realize that food bribes are important in the fire services (;)) but I never did either. I let my professionalism, willingness to pitch in, and desire to learn speak for me. And I'm still good friends with many of the Medics and EMTs I rode with.
 

Tigger

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Exactly. Street EMS at times can be a lot different than what you may have learned in your class.
No doubt that this is sometimes the case. However it would be advisable to complete an EMS class before deciding that the "street way" is superior.

I admire your enthusiasm but it's also important to realize that you need an education beyond some ride alongs to have a foundation. Experience is not everything, and no one appreciates the guy who clearly bases all of his decisions off what he has seen and not what he has learned.
 

spnjsquad

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No doubt that this is sometimes the case. However it would be advisable to complete an EMS class before deciding that the "street way" is superior.

I admire your enthusiasm but it's also important to realize that you need an education beyond some ride alongs to have a foundation. Experience is not everything, and no one appreciates the guy who clearly bases all of his decisions off what he has seen and not what he has learned.
I understand. I only have 1 more meeting class though then I'm off to my actual test. I have done more than just riding along too, I've done vitals on several calls, even though there's a lot more to it when I actually become an EMT (assuming I pass my test). Since I joined my local squad several months ago, I've been on about 60 calls, so even though I am definitely not that experienced, I think I have a pretty okay grip on how EMS works. Enough in my opinion to know that in street EMS sometimes you can't fully refer back in your head to the textbook, because quick thinking and problem solving is the more important factor. Now, obviously you should still apply what you learned to your paitents, but sometimes you don't have to adhere to a whole section of what you learned before saying "okay, we need to get him/her to a hospital" or "okay, this needs to happen so we can make this effective and simple". Sorry if I came off as having a little too much ego haha.
 
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