Poor (Public) Education

We have done a poor job educating the public.

No, really, we have.

Take this as an example:

1) You get a call to a crowded mall for a man down. When you arrive, the patient is in cardiac arrest with no CPR in progress.

2) You find the same thing, only now at a home.

3) You are called to a home for a minor cut.

4) You are called to the interstate for an accident that didn’t exist and the caller didn’t stop when they called.

The outcomes to these calls:

1) Patient dies

2) Patient dies

3) Band aid; refusal

4) People on 4 wheelers on the side of the road left their truck parked where they went in. No accident.

If you have been listening to EMS Garage (and soon Pedi-U and First Few Moments) you have probably heard me rant on about what we HAVE done in EMS education.

That being we have drilled into people’s heads that once they call 911, no further action is required until the fire department, EMS, police, or any combination arrive. We left out the part that they should be able to deliver basic first aid or CPR until someone arrives to take over. We have failed to teach primitive medicine until advanced (Basic EMT’s fall into this category when compared to a lay person) arrives.

We have also failed to properly teach parents about homeproofing and bicycle helmets and knee and elbow pads, or how to properly home treat a fever or other illness, and how the way the stay out of the emergency room at the nearest hospital is prevention.

You know the old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”? Now that pound is like 30 pounds, and the sheer weight of it is crushing urban and even some suburban EMS systems.

The funny thing is that after I had talked about this on Garage, we ended up talking this at the station at work, how we need fire prevention/education AND EMS public education, and this was coming from a guy who knew little, if nothing, about EMS systems or structure at large but he knew that the calls we were running for preventable and home treatable illness or injuries were killing US, and the hospitals.

I remember back to a disaster and incident management class I had when I was at Oklahoma State, taught by David Neal, PhD, and how he challenged us (and particularly those of us in the fire service) on many issues related to first response and the idea that we are NOT the TRUE first responders and that in a disaster people will help out their neighbor.

If anyone remembers this story, that doesn’t seem to be true. It makes an interesting point, however.

People are not prepared, for anything.

What will happen if calls to 911 go unanswered? (People die, as we’ve seen in Detroit and Pittsburgh)

People are not ready to do the right thing, and we need to turn our focus to restoring the “can do” attitude when it comes to helping your neighbor.

“Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” PHILIPPIANS 2:4

This article was written by rstine

  • “we have drilled into people’s heads that once they call 911, no further action is required”
    I have to disagree on that one, at least from the corners of the world I know. It was not drilled in to peoples heads by us, it was pre drilled in to their heads by nature. Humans are inherently lazy, and if it is known that ‘the experts’ have been called, why do anything? Or, in a state of panic, common sense flies out of the window.
    To end on a positive not, I do agree that we need to drill a “do something” attitude in to people minds. Not only in emergency situations…prevention is better than cure, you said it!

    • Anonymous

      I disagree that we are inherently lazy, but I think that in the lack of additional instruction or previous training puts us into a “standby” while waiting for help to arrive. If we were to educate basic medical knowledge like first aid and ingrain it as much as “call 911” then I believe that, eventually, people would think of doing the first aid and home treatment BEFORE calling an ambulance. These things are our responsibility, not the hospital.

  • “we have drilled into people’s heads that once they call 911, no further action is required”
    I have to disagree on that one, at least from the corners of the world I know. It was not drilled in to peoples heads by us, it was pre drilled in to their heads by nature. Humans are inherently lazy, and if it is known that ‘the experts’ have been called, why do anything? Or, in a state of panic, common sense flies out of the window.
    To end on a positive not, I do agree that we need to drill a “do something” attitude in to people minds. Not only in emergency situations…prevention is better than cure, you said it!

    • I disagree that we are inherently lazy, but I think that in the lack of additional instruction or previous training puts us into a “standby” while waiting for help to arrive. If we were to educate basic medical knowledge like first aid and ingrain it as much as “call 911” then I believe that, eventually, people would think of doing the first aid and home treatment BEFORE calling an ambulance. These things are our responsibility, not the hospital.

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  • Anonymous

    You are right and it is our time to educate the public… We need to begin our own campaign if we wait for someone else to do it they will get it wrong…

    • Anonymous

      And nothing against those who have tried, but the “911: When Life Is On The Line” campaign has only had a marginal effect. I think if we took First aid/CPR to community centers and paired without faith based initiatives (my church goes into poor neighborhoods and does health screens) we could have a much broader effect as far as education.

  • You are right and it is our time to educate the public… We need to begin our own campaign if we wait for someone else to do it they will get it wrong…

    • And nothing against those who have tried, but the “911: When Life Is On The Line” campaign has only had a marginal effect. I think if we took First aid/CPR to community centers and paired without faith based initiatives (my church goes into poor neighborhoods and does health screens) we could have a much broader effect as far as education.