What makes a bystander helpful/unhelpful?

DragonClaw

Forum Crew Member
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I'm looking for anecdotes on what makes a helpful bystander, and one that gets in the way or create danger.

At what point will you accept help vs trying to nicely (or aggressively, I don't know how you're supposed to) shoo them away?
 

mgr22

Forum Asst. Chief
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I'm looking for anecdotes on what makes a helpful bystander, and one that gets in the way or create danger.

At what point will you accept help vs trying to nicely (or aggressively, I don't know how you're supposed to) shoo them away?
In my experience, the vast majority of bystanders have been neither helpful nor dangerous. They stand and watch, hence the term, "bystander." I think you'll be making a mistake if you get preoccupied with managing them.

Scan the scene, find the patient(s), figure out why you're there, fix whatever can be fixed quickly, proceed to definitive care when necessary, rinse and repeat.
 

akflightmedic

Forum Deputy Chief
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You mean the "uh oh" squad?? Uh oh, what happened....uh oh, what's going on, uh oh, can I help, uh oh, I am insert X... :)

It is very rare that I need their assistance, so I take control of the scene. Be firm, give directions, be clear. Yes, you shoo them away if they are complicating matters. That is on you to conduct scene management and advocate for your patient. If bystanders are interfering or distracting you from doing what is in best interest of the patient, then shoo them away.

If you have one who is very insistent on helping them...assign them the task of shooing everyone else away. They will do an amazing job at this, I promise you.
 

planetmike

Forum Lieutenant
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Other than general scene awareness that you will develop with time, people hanging around a scene aren't a big deal. If they start filming, fine, whatever. We're in public, people can film whatever they want. Provide the best appropriate patient care. When you're able, move the patient to your office and transport.
 

StCEMT

Forum Deputy Chief
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Helpful: Rolling them on their side. Not putting ice down their pants (or them in a tub with water). Doing CPR while we resond. Bleeding control. Getting out of the way once I get there. Etc.

Unhelpful: Doing the opposite.

Fortunately for me, I am urban EMS. I almost never need their help, because resources are readily available. If people are in your way, you tell them to go somewhere that isn't in your way. If they aren't in your way, then they can just do whatever they are doing.
 

Chimpie

Site Administrator
Community Leader
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If you have one who is very insistent on helping them...assign them the task of shooing everyone else away. They will do an amazing job at this, I promise you.
THIS!
"Hey thanks, yes. Can you help move all these people about twenty feet that way, and help keep them over there? Thanks!"
Which also means that that particular individual is now also twenty feet away. 😎
 

johnrsemt

Forum Deputy Chief
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I have used bystanders for CPR help (rotated 20 plus people in and out to do compressions a few months ago, every 2 minutes). I have used them to move a patient, multiple times; used 5 cowboys to carry cot to helicopter. That was the smoothest transfer ever. Rough dirt road. Cot never touched the ground, either way.
Bystanders make great IV poles, and they carry bags better than a lot of FF I have worked with
 
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