Ryan Vu submitted 2020-10-31

Healthcare provider’s mental and physical preparations

There are certain basic skills everyone should know and even master such as changing a tire, making mac and cheese and have a basic knowledge to save a life. In a time where many things can be done or taken cared of with an app and with the help of the internet, there are some things that must be done in person, preferably by people with a certain skillset.

One of the most basic skillset that most of us have been introduced to at an early age and throughout schools, in activities and even in most jobs are first aid and basic emergency lifesaving skills. These basic skills may be as simple as applying direct pressure to a cut, to applying a tourniquet to the administering of CPR. Of course, like everything that we learn, it must be refreshed and practiced or performed on a regular basis as these are perishable skills.

In practicing and reviewing lifesaving skills, I make mental notes of the techniques employed to ensure I performed these tasks correctly as it was taught to me so I have the confidence and muscle memory to do it correctly in any environment and situation, as I fully realize lives are depending on me to do the right thing and to do it right. Under stress and external environment it, is very easy to lose focus and even the physical strength to perform these lifesaving actions. Sprinkle in a little of Murphy’s Law such as weather, earthquakes, a forest fire and other unforeseen events with people within range with their phones and you will feel all the weight of the world on you and watching you.

I believe what will separate real life from training and even Hollywood portrayal is it is not only imperative to do what you are trained for, but to be laser focused on saving the life and not let external factors, especially the ones you cannot control, affect your performance and confidence. You also must have confidence in yourself and in your teammates to do what was taught but also be flexible to make solid and sound decisions based on evolving events. For example, in a triage situation it is critical for everyone to work as an experienced team to correctly identify the problems and to treat it accordingly. Just as important, the team must exert calm, coolness, flexibility and confidence so the patient is not subjected to any additional and un-necessary stress.

One of the most important daily routine for me is to review my day and prepare for it. While I know changes in the day are inevitable, I always felt it is always best to know what is coming and to allow time, versatility and resources to address the unforeseen events. Hopefully, I have the solutions to address all situations but will have the adaptability to locate the resources to answer and deal with questions and issues that come up.

Having the mental capacity and be mentally prepared for the task at hand is only half the formula for success in the life saving community. The other important factor is having the right equipment, and it’s not just having the right equipment, it is having the equipment ready and is operational without any tolerance for failure. The same logic that the military and firemen always stressed that equipment should always be clean and one hundred percent functional at all times applies to our equipment at all times- have it on hand, have it checked regularly, have it cleaned and ready for deployment/usage and have it fully stocked. It is always better to have equipment, tools and supplies and not need it rather than need it and not have it. Lives and the success of your mission depend on your preparation- both mental and skills and having the proper equipment ready to deploy.

I constantly try to keep my mind active, knowledge and skills included, by going over scenarios in my mind from time to time. At times I’ll go over different scenarios and explain a particular skill to a friend and go through the motions of that skill. This helps for more physical skills because I can play and review the whole process in my head to see the whole method and motion and make any corrections and adjustments.

When I come across any obstacles about anything I try to recall, I always have my resources available to fall back on. I keep my anatomy and EMT references close at hand and always have medical apps for quick reference by my side. There is of course the most valuable resource available- the experiences of your peers. We all love our work and we all share our skills and experiences for one another to learn and to do our jobs better to save lives. While classroom studies and practices are important, there is no substitute for actual hands on applications of what you learned and prepared for. Stories of successes and failures become good teaching tools and may give new and better ways save lives “in the field.”