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?