EMS Tips

Tips for Being Prepared for Duty

A few weeks ago, about 30 minutes into my 60 minute commute to a paramedic shift I realized I had put on black dress pants (wrinkle free cotton Dockers to be exact) instead of my black uniform pants. It was too late to turn around. I did quickly check to make sure I was wearing my white uniform shirt and not a generic white dress shirt. I was. I also had my duty boots and not my Sorels on. When I arrived at work I confessed my uniform error to the first person I saw and each subsequent person. I decided it was better to own my mistake instead of waiting for others to notice. What could have led to a reprimand for a uniform discrepancy became a humorous foible. Most people said they wouldn’t of noticed. I felt like out of sorts all day long without my typical array of pockets and loops.

My uniform slip-up reminded me to return to a basic set of work preparation tips that are as applicable for a veteran EMS professional as they are to a new EMT or paramedic. These are my Everyday EMS Tips for getting ready for work:

1. Own your mistakes. You will rarely make an error without it being noticed. Report errors and mistakes promptly to the appropriate person – partner, patient, receiving nurse, and/or supervisor.

2. Create and follow a preparation routine for every shift. I need (as reminded that morning) to lay out all of my uniform components the night before work so I am not grabbing the wrong pants or mismatched socks at 0530. I easily confuse black and navy blue socks. I can only differentiate when I hold the socks against my pant leg.

3. Sleep and eat well before work. My patients and partner are counting on me to be at my best. I strive for at least 8 hours of sleep the night before any shift. I will also wake up early enough for a bowl of cereal before my commute.

4. Maintain other morning routines. On non-paramedic work mornings I always start my day with walking my dog and then reading my favorite newspaper websites. I try to maintain those routines on paramedic work days.

What do you do to get ready for work so you are mentally and physically at your best?

By Greg Friese

Greg Friese, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, is an author, educator, paramedic, and marathon runner.

Greg was the co-host of the award winning EMSEduCast podcast, the only podcast by and for EMS educators. Greg has written for,, Wilderness Medical Associates, JEMS Magazine, and EMS World Magazine, and the NAEMSE Educator Newsletter.