Vol. Voice- Looking the part:Why our appearance matters when we’re responding to call

jordanfstop

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Volunteer Voice: Looking the Part
Why our appearance matters when we’re responding to call
Jason J. Zigmont, BS, NREMT-P, EMS-I
April 2008 JEMS Vol. 33 No. 4
2008 Apr 1


A few weeks ago, I walked into a local hospital and saw someone standing next to a stretcher, wearing a ripped pair of jeans and a T-shirt covered in white paint spatters. Trying to be helpful, I asked if he needed anything or was looking for someone. To my surprise, he said he was with the local volunteer EMS crew. He added, “I’m just waitin’ for my partner.”

That encounter reminded me that to be true volunteer professionals, not only do we have to provide competent care, but we must also look the part. The way we look and act while volunteering is a representation of ourselves, as well as our organizations and our profession. Often, when a volunteer is responding from their home in their personal vehicle, the person we see is like the man I met—someone in casual clothes who doesn’t look at all like the emergency medical professional the public envisions. When someone is hurt, they expect to see a member of our community at their door who looks and acts like a professional and makes them feel at ease as they put the life of a loved one in their hands.

http://www.jems.com/news_and_articles/articles/Volunteer_Voice_Looking_the_Part.html
 

JPINFV

Gadfly
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Predictions:

This becomes a Vol v Paid debate (only behind fire v non-fire, Basic v Paramedic, and that fax machine in Office Space in terms of items beaten to death).

Admin team member gives warning.

Degrades further.

lock.
 

ffemt8978

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No more warnings.
 
OP
OP
jordanfstop

jordanfstop

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Predictions:

This becomes a Vol v Paid debate (only behind fire v non-fire, Basic v Paramedic, and that fax machine in Office Space in terms of items beaten to death).

Admin team member gives warning.

Degrades further.

lock.

Hahaha. Well, this one really only goes out to the vollies..
 

Jon

Administrator
Community Leader
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I saw the article in JEMS, and agree with it. I run with a BUSY combination paid/volunteer EMS agency. (Paid day crews, supplemented by volunteers, and all volunteer night crews). For day crew and 6p-12a, you MUST be in the full squad uniform (polo or uniform shirt, dark blue pants, boots, etc). For midnight, as long as it is in decent shape and clean, it is OK... some folks wear scrubs, most wear "EMS" t-shirts of some type, and blue pants or jeans (in good repair).

If I need to take a call out of uniform, I'm often dressed in some form of khakis and a collared shirt... so I grab a turnout coat and take the call.


Something else to think about - Uniforms go the other way, too... We have traffic vests that say "Observer" that we ask ride-a-longs to wear, so that they DON'T get mistaken for someone who knows where things are on our rigs when they are on a scene.
 

NJN

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At my agency (paid/volly) you can tell who the observer or newbie is. They will be the ones wearing the jeans and sneakers, if you have passed probie period your are going to be wearing Black or Blue EMS or BDU pants and black boots, required if paid. We are a resident squad so every one is in their Polos or Button down shirts and not responding from home, although the Vest with "observer" on it might not be a bad idea.
 

paramedix

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I agree that you have to look and act professional at all times. You are after all a professional saving someone's life or providing a professional service.

You will get more respect when you "look" the job than someone that just wears slops to a scene and doesn't care.

Also this can be a PPE issue if the wrong clothes are worn.
 

firecoins

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you need to have some sort of uniform on. The patient and bystanders will react much better to uniformed responders than a guy in a Tshirt and jeans. Althought I am guilty of wearing a uniform shirt and jeans many times.
 

rsdemt

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professional appearance

I could not agree with you more, about professional apperance.
I feel basuically if you don't look professional, then that tells me you do not want to be there. How long does it take, to make sure you have a clean uniform, shiny shoes, brushed hair etc. Even in the middle of the night, I would get into my boots, put my (hung up on bunk) shirt, and go to the unit.
On the way I would makes ure if nothing else, put my hand through my hair to make sure it at least look ok (no bed head).
Responding from home, is obviously a little different.
But I always made sure I had clean clothes, and would (of course) tell them who I was, and that I was an emt with the local fire dept. So right there I am sure they will look at my appearance because I am an associate of that department.
I do understand sometimes, coming from work (if you have a construction job, or some job where you get dirty), and drive up to an accident. That is something unavoidable. But in general yes you must look appropriate, to represent yourself, and your organization.
 
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Airwaygoddess

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Professionalism!

It is true, I believe that no matter what agency you work or volunteer for, it is important to maintain a high standard of professionalism in appearance and in our actions. :)
 

BossyCow

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I respond from home to both volly EMS calls, and SAR call-outs. I have a hanger in my closet that has a pair of blue pants, a department T-shirt and a pullover sweatshirt. I hang my hat from the hanger for those times when the bed head is especially bad. I don't have to look for it, wonder which drawer I put my clean sweatshirt in etc. in the middle of the night.

If it's a call where I don't have time to change completely, I can just grab the sweatshirt and/or hat so I at least have something identifying me as affiliated with the department.
 

mikie

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I'm on a volly dept and when responding, I try to look as professional as I can, but it can be hard. I at least have a dept t-shirt on and navy blue slacks sitting by my bed if I get a 4am call. If I don't have the right pants or shorts on, I'll wear my bunker pants. Even if I don't have a uniform shirt, I'll wear my bunkers sometimes. Also, in the ambulance we have some raincoats w/ our logo and stuff on them. When in the ER, they'll know who I am as well.

Professionalism is extremely important, it's another aspect of patient care!
 

KEVD18

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maybe its just me, but when i have been a patient, my mind isnt on what my responder was wearing. im fairly well wrapped up in not dieing. their clinical competence is more important by leaps and bounds to me than their attire.

you only get one choice of the following:

you have an emergency. details are irrelevant, but lets assume you need the full tickle: line, ekg interpretation, med calc/admin. the whole nine. your medic can be(remember one or the other:

medic a: clean shaven, neat hair cut, pressed uniform, shined boots. very professional appearing. he also graduated 18/20 in his class with a gpa 0.5 points above the minimum, misses 50% of his iv attempts and carries a reference guide to all his drugs because he doesnt really know them. his ekg skills are also questionable.

medic b: didnt shave today(or yesterday). jeans and a van halen t -shirt. reeks of cigarette smoke. obviously responded from the lazy boy. he also topped his class, is a cc medic, medic instructor, all the other goodies and is generally the greg house of paramedicine.

so i realize that appearence is important, but didnt your mother tell you never to judge a book by its cover?
 

EMTBandit

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When I am on duty I always have my squads t-shirt/sweatshirt on and a pair of jeans or ****ie's work pants on. If it's not my duty night and I happen to be away from my house where all my stuff is, when a call comes in and im responding. I usually look pretty decent. Just wearing my t-shirt and jeans. (Non-ripped jeans I should add :p).
 

Anomalous

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We have a variety of jackets hanging at the station someone can borrow if they happen to be responding from some place other than home. Even throwing a clean jacket on helps a lot. We also have several pairs of old (In age not appearance) coveralls you can borrow if you really need them. Sometimes someone will grab a pair of those when they are responding with clothes than they want to protect. Okay, maybe you look like you should have a stick and a bag picking up trash along the highway, but you won't ruin your good clothes. They get a A- in neat but a D in fashion.
 

JAM-EMT

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All garbagemen have uniforms, why don't people who save lives?
 

firecoins

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Outbac1

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I agree with the comments on professionalism.

People should respond in a uniform. It takes about a minute and a half to put on a shirt and pants step into your boots and walk out the door. When I worked at a 24 hr base I had 1 min and 59 seconds to go from bed to truck. I didn't sleep in my uniform and I could do it. Some crews had the optional one piece coveralls for night wear. They were dark blue with reflective stripes, company shoulder crests and reflective "Paramedic" on the back. They didn't take long to step into either. There is no excuse for anyone responding from a station, paid or volunteer, to not be in uniform.

First responders should also have at least a light jacket or vest to say who they are. It would make distingushing them from usless bystanders on scene much easier.
 

CFRBryan347768

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Personally I love being im my uniform so when i see other people really dressed down it boggles my mind. One time i saw a crew in flip-flops a t-top and a bathing suit, how can you expect to show up on scene and be taken seriously? For get the fact that your feet and much more skin is uncovered but that dress is crossing the line. I do think its okay to wear jeans, ambulance corp t shirt and boots though if you are responding for a second rig. But I love!!! being in my uniform.
 

mikie

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Another important reason why responders should have some sort of visible ID, when arriving on scene, I wouldn't open the door to an unmarked, shady-looking guy claiming to be the EMT or fire department or police or whomever!

If I'm at least wearing my bunkers, or a dept T-shirt or jacket, I can be recognized not only by the pt & family, but by bystanders and police so I won't have any issues on scene.
 
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