What the Ebola Scare Has Done for Me as a Paramedic

It is my opinion that the Ebola scare is just that; a scare. I think it’s a serious concern, but the widespread hysteria and end-of-times predictions are just ridiculous. Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely think we need to take this seriously and we need to be prepared for ANY deadly disease that may head our way. What I don’t agree with, is the constant plastering of the non-existent epidemic on TV and social media.

Having said all that, I must admit that the Ebola scare has certainly opened my eyes to a few things and I believe it has made me an all-around better paramedic.

Here’s why:

Image Source: CNN.com
Image Source: CNN.com

The Value of Life

Seeing healthcare workers in my own city contract a deadly disease has certainly put things into perspective. It has reminded me that we are never guaranteed tomorrow and neither are our patients. I’ve also been reminded of just how important and dangerous our job is. After 12 years in EMS, it’s easy to become complacent and forget about the fact that we really do have a risky line of work.

This whole thing has helped me to think about what’s best for my family when I’m out and about and it has reminded me of how important it is to be in a good place emotionally, financially and spiritually. Knowing that one wrong move could completely change the course of my life will do funny things to man…

Paying More Attention to Detail

Up until recently, I never really made it a habit to ask patients if they had left the country recently. The sad part about this, is that it shouldn’t take an Ebola scare to motivate us to do thorough assessments and ask the right questions. I’m now asking more questions, looking for signs and symptoms of ALL the infectious diseases that I can think of and I’m paying closer attention to potential hazards.

The last thing I want, is to harm myself or my patient because I missed the opportunity to avoid an exposure. We owe it to ourselves, our families and our patients to stay on the ball when it comes to infectious diseases.

Stop Taking Stupid Risks

I hate to admit this, but I haven’t exactly been a beacon of good practice when it comes to infection control. I’ve gone into many scenes without gloves on, intubated many times without a mask or eye protection and brushed off simple safety precautions that could very easily save my life. There’s simply no excuse for this. It’s stupid, plain and simple.

Seeing healthcare workers come down with deadly infections has really put my daily routines into perspective. Now I always make sure to A) have the appropriate PPE on my truck at the start of the shift, and B) actually use the life-saving gear that’s issued to me.

So what has this Ebola scare done for you as an EMS provider? Please feel free to comment below. I would love to hear from you!

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