Goddess of Trauma

Public Service Announcement: Preparation Prior to Medical Emergencies

Good afternoon. I have had a few situations these past few days and if I can use this forum to help some people, I should, so in no particular order:

  1. Make a list of your medical history and your medications. Keep one on the fridge, one in your wallet and one in your spouse’s wallet. Seconds can count and you might not always be in the same place. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told “my wife knows,” and she is nowhere to be found.
  2. We make decisions for where you get transported to based on the immediate medical needs and appropriate facility. Your records can always be sent over later. Trust us.
  3. Have a healthcare proxy and make it clear who makes your decisions for you. We don’t have the time or patience to be stuck in the middle of a family squabble while your life is in our hands.
  4. If your loved one has a caregiver at home you have the RIGHT to be picky. You need to have one that speaks the same language as your family member (whatever that language may be) but can also communicate to EMS in whatever language they speak. And they should be able to appropriately take care of your loved one. Having an aide with a “bad back” who can’t lift or clean your loved one is counter-productive and a waste of money.
  5. If your loved in is in a facility you NEED to be there on the daily, or every other day at the minimum!! If you can’t, someone you trust needs to go. Even in the “best” of facilities, shit can and does happen. I’ve often been quoted as saying “they put lipstick on a pig” when referring to the same facilities undergoing a face lift or “new management.”
  6. If you can, seek out the recommendations of your local EMS. We are in and out of them on a daily basis and have no financial gain in recommending, or not recommending a facility. Compliments, and complaints on any facility are public knowledge! Know before you go.
  7. (Warning – may be hard to read.) Have the hard conversation about DNR/DNI in the appropriate situations. I KNOW FIRSTHAND how hard it is, but I also know firsthand how “working a code” goes. Its a brutal invasive thing to do to a person. They are stripped “trauma naked,” a stranger is doing CPR by pushing up and down on your chest. Ribs get broken. Another stranger is putting a tube up your nose and down your throat so we can breathe for you. If your veins are difficult to “get” someone is drilling into your bones so medication can be pushed directly into your bone marrow and while it is extremely gratifying to have a “cardiac save” there are situations where it is an unnecessary and invasive procedure and a very undignified way to end your days on earth.
  8. Love is love is love, and sometimes it’s just “goodbye” and “Godspeed.” I know from experience.
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