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 first responders, paramedics must adapt to chaotic situations. Hazzard explains that the practices that are taught during paramedic training are not always the most effective way of approaching an emergency situation.
EMTs and paramedics tend to be outmatched when they first arrive. Hazzard equates being a paramedic to being a detective. First responders have to pay attention to the detail of their surroundings, in order to figure out what happened and how to best treat the victim. Furthermore, EMTs and paramedics are often unable to run standard diagnostic test that could provide them with answers.
In that sense, Hazzard compares the care provided by first responders to a ‘primitive’ form of medicine. They are not able to use many advanced medical techniques that clinicians in an office or hospital use regularly.
Being a first responders also requires a certain emotional capacity. Hazzard explains it is important to be able to detach from their victims. If not, many would be incapable of doing the job. First responder can often not think about the immediate pain of the victim, as it would hinder their ability to perform vital tasks.
However, in certain situations, empathy is the most effective form of care. Hazzard explains that some people call 9-1-1 because they are frightened or unsure of what is going on. The best way to help in those situations is to simply talk to them and convey understanding.
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 or equipment, and are often told to made do with what they have. Despite the tough circumstances and compromising situations, most first responders continue to be committed to saving lives and making the best of any situation they find themselves in.
- Kevin Hazzard, former paramedic and author of A Thousand Naked Strangers: A Paramedic’s Wild Ride to the Edge and Back