EMS World

DEC 2018

EMS World Magazine is the most authoritative source in the world for clinical and educational material designed to improve the delivery of prehospital emergency medical care.

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EMSWORLD.com | DECEMBER 2018 63 O n a sunny spring morning, med- ics were alerted to a crash at the north end of the city. As dispatchers provided more information to the ambulance en route, it became evident this was not an ordinary crash. Upon arrival the paramedic in charge sized up the scene for dispatch and other responding unit s . "We have t wo car s and seven patients," he reported. "Four trapped in a minivan, two trapped in a convertible with one ejection. Declaring an MCI alarm. Notif y the chief to respond to the scene, emergency!" One of those trapped in the minivan wa s an a genc y paramedic who'd just gotten of f shif t 45 minutes before. He was going to church with his family after work. He did not sur vive. After several days of dealing with the media, investigators, attorneys, and city officials, the EMS chief was mentally and physically exhausted. He made all the proper notifications and completed the paper work, but the scenario kept running through his head. Were his department's policies and procedures adequate? Had he done ever y thing he could to prevent this tragedy? He felt responsible for the trauma his paramedics and EMTs experienced and worried about their families. He worried about the vic tim's family. He worried about his own family. He began to have trouble sleeping, and his sense of guilt made him spend more and more time at work, where he isolated himself with paper work. A s a leader he did a commendable job of supporting his employees, but he had nowhere to turn for support for him- self. His small department did not have access to a formal support program. He didn't want anyone on his staff to know he was wrestling with these issues, and he wouldn't even consider seeking help from a therapist in the community—in the first responder culture, that's often seen as a sign of weakness. Luckily there is now another solution for this chief and others like him: a new peer-suppor t program specifically tai- lored for command staff. Improved Resiliency In July 2018 the Mid-America Regional Council—a council of governments and the metropolitan planning organization for the Kansas City region—launched a command- level peer-support pilot program. As the association of city and county governments for the Kansas City region, MARC has sup- ported EMS agency coordination since 1973, managed the region's 9-1-1 system since the early 1980s, and coordinated regional homeland security efforts since 2003. That meant it had the necessary relationships, collaborative spirit, and sense of trust the program would need to succeed already in place. W i th gu i d a n ce a n d s u p p o r t f r o m Founding members of the Command Level Peer Support Team (photo: Catherine Couch, MARC Public Aairs)

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