Have you ever wondered what it is like to be a first responder? We talk with Kevin Hazzard, former paramedic and author of A Thousand Naked Strangers: A Paramedic’s Wild Ride to the Edge and Back, who tells us about his experiences as a paramedic and what it takes to be able to deal with emergency situations.
As a first responder, paramedics must enjoy the chaos and must be able to adjust to any situation. Hazzard explains that the practices of medicine that are taught during training are not always the most effective way to approach an emergency situation because EMTs and paramedics tend to be outmatched. Furthermore, he states that being a paramedic is often like being a detective because first responders must be attentive to the details surrounding them in order to figure out what happened and how to best treat the victim. An EMT or paramedic must be capable of listening to the victim and the bystanders, as well as making observations about the environment, because they are incapable of running tests that can provide them with answers. Hazzard describes the care provided by first responders as a primitive form of medicine because they are not able to use a lot of advanced medical techniques that medical practices have access to.
Along with these skills, first responders rely on a certain level of emotional capability in these emergency situations. Hazzard explains that it is important to be able to be detached from the victims because if not, many would be incapable of doing the job. He states that a first responder cannot think about the pain of the victim because it will hinder their ability to perform vital tasks. However, in certain situations, empathy provides the most effective care. Hazzard explains that some people call 911 because they are frightened or unsure of what is going on, and the best way to help them in this situation is to simply talk to them. Furthermore, he expresses that paramedics must be able to cope with the fact that they are almost always going to be put into compromising situations.
In the end, first responders must be dedicated to their jobs. Hazzard explains that as a tax funded field, they are not given the best supplies, and are often told to made do with what they have. Some even spend their own income to purchase better equipment. Despite the tough circumstances and compromising situations, most first responders continue to be committed to saving the lives of the American people that need their help.
- Kevin Hazzard, former paramedic and author of A Thousand Naked Strangers: A Paramedic’s Wild Ride to the Edge and Back