3 Skills That Great EMTs Must Have

A quick reflection on some of what matters most.

Tanner Coles and other EMTS | On Time Ambulance

On Time Employees at the Freehold Office in a 2018 file photo.

In a fantastic 2014 post for EMS1, Deborah Frediani shared a deeply personal account of what it takes to be an EMT.

The post detailed her experience growing up with a brother who, at age 10, was diagnosed with Leukemia. He was given a one in ten chance to live.

During her brother's treatment, Deborah always paid close attention to the bedside manner and the attitude of the doctors and nurses. While she found the procedures to be interesting, and was fascinated with medicine, she always thought that the most important thing to watch was how the staff treated her brother.

Almost everyone was wonderful, she said, but there was one particular incident where that wasn't the case. Her brother had been admitted to the hospital with a severe nosebleed. While he sat scared and crying, a doctor told him to "Shut up. Quit acting like a baby."

An administrator overheard the exchange, and that doctor and a nurse were removed from her brother's case.

To this day, Deborah said that the most important lesson she learned through the whole ordeal was to properly treat your patients and their families.

For Deborah, three characteristics stand out above all.

"A good EMT must be respectful, compassionate, and empathetic." Without those traits, you might as well be getting treated by a team of robots.

Patients and families will remember how they were treated. It's what they'll mostly take away from the experience.

When we deal with a high volume of calls and trips, it can be easy to lose sight of this fact. But you can't let a bad day get in the way of delivering exceptional care to your patients and their families.

Remember that your patient might be going through a really dark time and having a respectful, compassionate, and empathetic presence with them might be just what the doctor ordered.


So next time you're renewing your EMT license and doing your in-service trainings, remember that sometimes the most important things aren't taught in your textbook.

Sometimes you have to treat your patients as if they were truly a member of your own family.


Employee Spotlight: EMT Tanner Coles

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