How to get rid of squeamishness?

mattyb

Forum Ride Along
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I just passed my EMT-B course and I noticed that I am visceral and visually repulsed by gore. Just reading the words make me feel it. I do NOT feel light headed or nauseous; just very uncomfortable. How do I get rid of this? Would looking at Internet gore help? I want to rid myself of it before I see it in person. Thanks.
 

mgr22

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mattyb, I'm not sure there's a push-button solution for what you're describing. You may become desensitized to "gore" over time. On the other hand, your body may be telling you that EMS isn't the best choice for you. There's no shame in that.
 

Remi

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I just passed my EMT-B course and I noticed that I am visceral and visually repulsed by gore. Just reading the words make me feel it. I do NOT feel light headed or nauseous; just very uncomfortable. How do I get rid of this? Would looking at Internet gore help? I want to rid myself of it before I see it in person. Thanks.
I think it all depends on how bad the problem is, and what you consider "gore" in this context. Does the mere site of blood or seeing someone vomit or in really filthy condition gross you out? Or are you just talking about really extreme sights, like loops of bowel protruding from a huge abdominal wound, or limbs torn off, or arrows through eye sockets? The former is pretty common; the latter kind of thing is a true rarity.

Real world emergency services is nothing at all like what you've seen on TV, and you will probably see very little "gore" in your EMS career.
 

Aprz

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This going to sound crazy, but I used to be absolutely terrified of needles. I've passed out twice from needle pokes, once even in class! In paramedic school, I would shake and cry when getting poked. I knew it was a necessary evil, I really wanted to be a paramedic, so I just pushed through it and eventually got over it. Now, if I tell people I have a history of passing out, that I'm afraid, they'll be more afraid than me, lol. I've even let people practice IVs on me with no issue. I got poked with a dirty needle at work and had to get a lot of blood tests regularly both checking for any HIV or hepatitis, but also to check that my liver and kidneys were OK while taking PEP (Truvada and Tivicay) for a month. They had to check me for HIV for a year post exposure. I am very used to needles now and you would never guess in a million years that I used to shake, cry, and pass out from them.

When my EMT partner first got into the field, she used to gag at anything that looked, smelled, or sounded gross. She would gag if you even coughed! I remember once putting an NPA in a patient, a snot bubble came out and oozed onto the patient a little, she grabbed a garbage can dry heaving. Now, she'll just grimace a little, say "Ew" maybe, and go on with her day.

People forget we are human too. Maybe most of you are super tough and could handle it from the get go, but I know my EMT partner and I had to work mentally hard to be able to handle this job. If you want to do it, I'll think you'll find a way to cope or overcome these things whether minor or severe.
 

Tigger

Dodges Pucks
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This going to sound crazy, but I used to be absolutely terrified of needles. I've passed out twice from needle pokes, once even in class! In paramedic school, I would shake and cry when getting poked. I knew it was a necessary evil, I really wanted to be a paramedic, so I just pushed through it and eventually got over it.
I still can't take IVs well. Sitting up there's a 50% chance I take a digger. I'll still let people practice on me, but I can't really help them and I have to lay down. Oh well, there's perks to being an instructor I suppose.
 

Aprz

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I still can't take IVs well. Sitting up there's a 50% chance I take a digger. I'll still let people practice on me, but I can't really help them and I have to lay down. Oh well, there's perks to being an instructor I suppose.
I can't look at the needle going into me, but once it is in, I am good to look, give advice, and talk about whatever.
 

Peak

ED/Prehospital Registered Nurse
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I still can't take IVs well. Sitting up there's a 50% chance I take a digger. I'll still let people practice on me, but I can't really help them and I have to lay down. Oh well, there's perks to being an instructor I suppose.
I can't look at the needle going into me, but once it is in, I am good to look, give advice, and talk about whatever.
I have great veins but for some reason attract people who struggle with IVs. I've definitely put my own IV in more than once.
 

berkeman

Forum Lieutenant
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I just passed my EMT-B course and I noticed that I am visceral and visually repulsed by gore. Just reading the words make me feel it. I do NOT feel light headed or nauseous; just very uncomfortable. How do I get rid of this? Would looking at Internet gore help? I want to rid myself of it before I see it in person. Thanks.
Do you have any training opportunities near you where moulage is used? That's one of the best ways to get used to dealing with blood and gore in treating injuries, IMO. It sounds like you aren't working in EMS yet, so you may need to check for citizen-level training and triage exercises. Maybe talk to your local fire department to ask if they have any CERT teams, etc., and if there are any upcoming drills that you can participate in.

Moulage is a great training tool IMO because you can assess and work on a patient that looks terrible, all torn up and squirting blood, and you know it's fake. Knowing that it's fake "makeup" helps you to not get bothered by it, and doing it more and more exposes you to lots of different kinds of injuries that you may see in the field. Then when you see it in real life with a real patient, you end up thinking, "Hmm, I've seen this before" and not being too bothered by it (or at least able to focus on doing your job well).

One of the best-moulaged patients that I've assessed and treated was a guy who had been blown up by an IED at a political rally. He was missing his lower right leg and was bleeding pretty badly. I was amazed at the great moulage, and initially assumed that they had buried his lower leg in the ground to hide it. Turns out the guy was a veteran of the wars in the Middle East, and had lost his lower leg in combat. He is retired now, and volunteers for trainings to bring extra realism to the triage scenes. That training was part of our local Bay Area Urban Shield training a couple years ago.

 
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E tank

Caution: Paralyzing Agent
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Big difference between being a bystander with no role to play in a particularly shocking scene and a person that has specific tasks to complete within a certain time frame. Completely different mindset. When put into a context and setting of having been trained and prepared toward accomplishing a set of goals, disturbing injuries become like mashed fenders at a body shop. Afterwards is a different story though....
 

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