Summer Camp EMT Advice


Forum Ride Along
I recently got hired at a traditional sleep-away camp for kids up in Maine this summer. I was wondering if anyone had any experience and/or advice for me. I will be working as an EMT and not a Nurse Assistant or Health Center staff member (no handing out meds!) They basically said I get my own golf cart, radio, and BLS kit. Please drop any advice / stories below!


Forum Deputy Chief
Make sure you have a medical director. Are you part of an actual licensed EMS agency in that role?

May be worth taking EPC, PEARS, or PEPP if you can.


Critical Crazy
Role delineation and having the med dir on quick dial are key. Because you'd like someone to sign off on your decision of fine/not fine after Billy gets kicked in the stomach by the horse but wants to get back to tetherball.

Is there a real med center staff with a RN? Otherwise get used to being thought of and called "the nurse" except you aren't... you are going to be asked otherwise to dole out all sorts of meds you are not familiar with as an EMT and that are out of scope. And you are probably going to have to be comfortable with some of that...

Example: you are also going to be dealing with all kinds of camp stuff like
7th grader "I haven't pooped in 5 days."
"Not normal for you?"
"No and my tummy hurts now."
"You eating your veggies and fruit?"
(ausc, palp)
"Yah, do start eating those cuz your mom ain't here to make ya. And here is some docusate bisocdyl... drink water. If it doesn't work come back and we'll call the doc about giving you some mag citrate or a suppository."

Counselor "It itches down there."
"Are you showering daily?"
"With soap?
"You doing the other counselor?"
"Which one?"
"And who else?"
"Just X"
"Cool let's send you both back to town for a STD clinic visit on the next supply run. Stop boning your coworkers for now OK?"


Forum Deputy Chief
Just to build on Summit's remarks, I think you'll find life experience counts more than medical experience. I'm concerned about how little you have of the former at 19. There are risks. Must you do this?


Forum Deputy Chief
As a former Scout Camp EMT-B (2 summers, 1000-1200 Scouts and leaders per week, 150 staff members). I was on staff in 2002-2003. But it hasn't changed much.

Make sure you have a Medical Director: which can be a GP (General Practitioner): ours was a Scout leader, former staff member at the same camp when he was a teenager; who was a family doctor then. A GP type Doctor is better for this type of camp than an ED type doctor, (per my EMS Medical Director at the time). You may have to have your Medical Director for camp talk to a EMS Medical Director for the non OTC medications.

Get your Medical Director to give you a list of medications that you give out: OTC (Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Pepto, Imodium, etc.) along with guidelines of when and how much. "Don't give Tylenol for a headache until they have drunk 20 oz. of water over 30 minutes (for example); {surprising how many headaches that water cures}.
Also; if you have female campers or staffers, make sure you have meds for cramping and bloating, along with directions/orders for it: you would be surprised how many forget to bring it.

We had approx. 30 OTC meds we gave out.
Also, we had Epi (either EpiPen's or Epi and syringe and needle); Baby ASA and Nitro for Cardiac chest pain (but we were 35 minutes away from an ambulance, so that may be different in your situation, Albuterol Nebulizer, and O2.

Go to local Urgent Care (Instant Care or whatever the name is) closest to the camp and introduce yourself: Find out what they are comfortable with, and what they would rather you send to the ED. And stick to that list. Nothing will irritate them more than sending a child to them for sutures in the palm of the hand when they don't do that, and they told you they don't do that.
Go to the local ED and introduce yourself.
Go to local EMS/Fire and introduce yourself. Figure out their response time.
Call (non emergency number if you can get hold of it) the local 911 dispatch center and introduce yourself: Make a list of what to say to 911 every time you call them (so if camp management or office calls the call is the same): Ours was: Conscious/Unconscious, Male/Female, Major issue (why we are calling 911), if fire is needed or just EMS, ALS or BLS ambulance (if that is an option there). Also find out if you need to call for a helicopter yourself or if they do:
If you need to call for a helicopter find out how and call and introduce yourself.

Make up maps to the Local Urgent Care and ED and have them ready to hand out to leaders.

Go to your local (where you are now) ED and talk to the Medical Director there if you can; about shadowing a couple of the doctors to learn about suturing: what lacerations need suturing and what doesn't. That is going to be the biggest trauma thing you have to deal with. Know what does and doesn't need to go to the Urgent Care or Hospital for sutures 10-25 x a day will make every ones life easier.
My medical director not only had me shadow him (Level I trauma Center) but he taught me how to do sutures stating that if I know how to do them it will be easier to know if a patient has to have them. in 2 --12 hour shifts I did over 400 sutures. 2 summers I sent probably 150 Scouts and leaders in for over 1300 sutures. But only 2 came back without them. I can still tell at a glance

Find out what your staff insurance does NOT cover: Scout Staff insurance would not cover pregnancy tests, so any females with abdominal pain went to the ED (they do pregnancy tests as part of normal workup and don't charge separately) instead of Urgent Care.

I still think every EMT needs to work at a camp at least once in their Career, you learn a lot about EMS. Especially when the closest ambulance is 30+ minutes away.

If I think of other things I will send you more: If you have any other questions message me.