You Never Know Who is Watching

Posted by on Sep 3, 2013 in Articles & Columns, EMS Industry News

fullertonMuch of my livelihood comes from evaluating, discussing, and correcting the performance of various Emergency Medical Services Providers. Sometimes my presence is known, other times it is not; sometimes I am just a face in the crowd…but I am watching.

Last Saturday evening, I was at Lions Field in Fullerton. I was there to see my daughter cheer for the Fullerton Titans (Pop Warner Midgets), but I really wanted to watch some good football. As always, the Titans did not disappoint.

Late in the game, a frustrated opposing team – down 28-8 – was losing composure and getting somewhat sloppy with the rules. With a little less than five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, an opposing player, long out-of-bounds, executed a blatant and fierce late hit on the Titan’s ball-carrier he had already forced out. The blow caused the Titans player to slam full-force and head first into the wall that borders the field.

I can’t say whether the player was unconscious, but he was face-down on the field and he was not moving. It was not long before we all knew this was more than just a regular clock-cleaning; he was hurt.

Without hesitation, a coach from the opposing team ran to the player’s side and announced that he was a Paramedic with the Orange County Fire Authority.

As you might imagine, I watched and listened very closely; one never knows how or when one might gather new material for a lecture or column.

This is what I saw:

The off-duty medic approached and performed with absolute professionalism; he offered his assistance, but did not force it. His tone, demeanor, and style exuded confidence and comfort.

His assessment was organized and thorough and right on target. His scene control was calm and assertive, but never arrogant or condescending. He was open and collaborative with the ER Nurse who was also there along with a concerned coaching staff and the player’s parents. “He’s good right now. He’s good.” The medic told the player’s dad and I saw the sigh of relief.

When the Paramedics from the Fullerton Fire Department engine company arrived along with the EMTs from Care Ambulance, I was frankly surprised by the level of professionalism, coordination, and cooperation I saw. It seemed that everyone knew his or her role and executed seamlessly.

Every member of the engine company performed an assigned task, but more impressively, they were all friendly, professional, and created a general sense of calm over a stressful situation. The same can be said of the CARE EMTs; they were sharp, attentive, responsive, and completely professional.

Moreover, everything the EMS Providers did was just a few feet from a crowded stands and every eye was on them.

They discussed the challenges of applying and maintaining proper spinal immobilization of a player with a football helmet and, again, they executed better spinal precaution technique than I have seen in a long, long time.

While there was no doubt they all knew they were being watched, I am sure that none of them knew that they were being watched, evaluated, and categorized by the EMSLawyer.

I would say that this particular scene was an excellent example of two things: 1) Exactly what to do and how to do it, and 2) You never know who is watching.

Nice job!!

1 Comment

  1. Manuel Baglanis
    September 3, 2013


    I’m also an attorney and a former AMR paramedic in Santa Clara Country. More recently, I recertified as an EMT. I have lectured on Medical-Legal issues for AMR, for paramedic and EMT programs, for County EMS, and for local Fire Departments throughout Northern California. Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed scenes where the first responders were rude and completely dismissive of bystanders, including me when I attempted only to provide them with a history of what I observed. It’s great to hear the story that you told because there is always the potential for someone watching and listening, and it’s paramedicine 101 to get an accurate history from the patient as well as bystanders when available.


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