EMT with panic disorder?

ForeverBootEMT

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Good evening everyone. New to EMS world. I was wondering if you could be an EMT or CEP with a panic disorder.

My biggest fear is having a panic on scene or en route while in the back of an Ambulance with a patient and needing O2 myself or worst case scenario of hyperventilating and passing out. Or getting claustrophobic.

Has anyone experienced this before? Anyone with anxiety/panic disorders themselves? How do you cope or deal with such things. Please no rude remarks either. I’d love advice on how to manage and what other experienced folks have done in order to manage their anxiety?


Disclaimer: I’m not on meds cause this isn’t an everyday or all the time thing. My mind tends to just think of “worst case scenario”
 

Rubicon Bob

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The question I'd have to ask myself is.........

Would you want someone treating you, or a loved one/family member, that is having a panic attack?

EMS is not for everyone.
 

mgr22

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I see from your bio that you're already an EMT. Are you working in the field? Have you experienced any of the symptoms you're concerned about? If so, what were the outcomes?

It's normal to have some anxiety while working in EMS, especially in the beginning. The key is finding your own best way of functioning in spite of those feelings. What helped me as a new EMT, and then again as a new medic, was to imagine again and again how I'd handle difficult scenarios. Mentally simulating a cardiac arrest, for example -- including all the steps I might have to take -- made it feel less strange when it actually happened. I think most of us have tried some version of that.

Also, at your age (32), I imagine you've encountered anxiety many times outside EMS. How do you deal with those situations?
 
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ForeverBootEMT

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I see from your bio that you're already an EMT. Are you working in the field? Have you experienced any of the symptoms you're concerned about? If so, what were the outcomes?

It's normal to have some anxiety while working in EMS, especially in the beginning. The key is finding your own best way of functioning in spite of those feelings. What helped me as a new EMT, and then again as a new medic, was to imagine again and again how I'd handle difficult scenarios. Mentally simulating a cardiac arrest, for example -- including all the steps I might have to take -- made it feel less strange when it actually happened. I think most of us have tried some version of that.

Also, at your age (32), I imagine you've encountered anxiety many times outside EMS. How do you deal with those situations?
I just got my certs and hired on by an agency and begin training ride alongs next week. So I don’t have any field experience unfortunately.

When I do experience a panic attack at times outside of EMS, I most of the time have the luxury of being able to remove myself from a situation that requires it. However, there have been times where that isn’t the case. My panic attacks are usually the fear-based “I feel like I’m having a heart attack and gonna pass out” type of panic attacks. Which is why I don’t want that to happen on scene or en route. I have heard that people do have bad anxiety and can still function in the EMS and healthcare field.

So that being said, I also have never done CPR on a live patient, nor have I ever dealt with a bloody scene or things like an abdominal evisceration and such.
 
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ForeverBootEMT

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The question I'd have to ask myself is.........

Would you want someone treating you, or a loved one/family member, that is having a panic attack?

EMS is not for everyone.
You’re not wrong. However, I have heard form a lot of EMS and even LEOs that with good training and experience, a lot more people can do it
 

akflightmedic

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So that being said, I also have never done CPR on a live patient, nor have I ever dealt with a bloody scene or things like an abdominal evisceration and such.

Well, I do hope you never perform CPR on a live patient, we usually prefer the dead ones. And abdominal evisceration calls are rare. Sounds like maybe you should just stay interfacility transport for a while and see how the lifestyle works out for you. Then dabble in the emergency things...
 

mgr22

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I just got my certs and hired on by an agency and begin training ride alongs next week. So I don’t have any field experience unfortunately.

When I do experience a panic attack at times outside of EMS, I most of the time have the luxury of being able to remove myself from a situation that requires it. However, there have been times where that isn’t the case. My panic attacks are usually the fear-based “I feel like I’m having a heart attack and gonna pass out” type of panic attacks. Which is why I don’t want that to happen on scene or en route. I have heard that people do have bad anxiety and can still function in the EMS and healthcare field.

So that being said, I also have never done CPR on a live patient, nor have I ever dealt with a bloody scene or things like an abdominal evisceration and such.
What do you do when you feel like you're "having a heart attack and gonna pass out"? Is it a brief sensation that you've learned to resolve without anyone likely realizing what you've experienced, or do you become non-functional in some ways for some time?
 
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ForeverBootEMT

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What do you do when you feel like you're "having a heart attack and gonna pass out"? Is it a brief sensation that you've learned to resolve without anyone likely realizing what you've experienced, or do you become non-functional in some ways for some time?
I have had times where I can be non-functional and I’ll feel light headed and get super nauseous and feel woozy and fumble when standing. I will say I have never (knock on wood) had a full on syncope episode from a panic attack. I’m assuming that can be a drop in BP or something.
 

mgr22

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I have had times where I can be non-functional and I’ll feel light headed and get super nauseous and feel woozy and fumble when standing. I will say I have never (knock on wood) had a full on syncope episode from a panic attack. I’m assuming that can be a drop in BP or something.
The "non-functional" part sounds scary. If you became non-functional during a call, you'd be putting your patient and partner(s) at risk. That could be just as bad for you as for them. I think you're right to reconsider whether EMS is a good choice for you.
 

Summit

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This sounds like something you should be discussing with your mental health provider/prescriber.

EMS is what is known legally as a "Safety Sensitive" role which may disallow the use of certain medications and remove certain ADA protections that apply to non-safety sensitive positions. Similar roles are truck drivers, pilots, aviation mechanics, miners, FFs, LEOs, heavy equipment operators...
 

berkeman

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nor have I ever dealt with a bloody scene
Did your training involve any realistic Pts with moulage? The more of that type of training you can do, the more comfortable you get with dealing with the real thing. You might look into your local groups like Disaster Healthcare Volunteers to see if you might be interested in joining a group that does regular realistic trainings.

 

Martyn

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Sorry to be hard, and others have also mentioned this, is this the right job for you? Had a classmate back when I qualified get a job with Americare in Tampa, during transport pt went in to cardiac arrest and he panicked and just sat there doing nothing, the EMT driving had to swap out and get him to drive while he did pt care. In saying that, if you feel this is what you want to do...find some help, there are plenty of resources if you look. Good luck
 
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