The importance of good feedback

Two days of responding in a while and I’ve been all over Hinckley – the shifts have been a little up and down, and that’s not just because of the trip to the fairground and to the patient who had fallen from a tree!

As a CFR getting feedback from the amazing guys and gals in green is a really important part of the job. CFRs receive a significant amount of training by EMAS but there is nothing quite like experience, and getting feedback on how you performed. Technicians and Paramedics get lots of experience but the reality of being a CFR is that the likelihood of going to a new type job you’ve not seen before is quite high and this is part of the appeal. It makes the role exciting and unpredictable – just like all of the good things in life.

I always operate within my scope of practice and EMAS guidelines, as every CFR should, but there’s a whole lot of grey between right and wrong. Especially when it comes to something as complex as a human being.

If a Paramedic tells me they would have made a different judgement call,  I’m really interested in knowing why. Not “why did you say it like that”. Not “why are you being so critical I’m just a volunteer”.

I’m a big believer in criticism,  and I make it constructive even if they don’t.  Try this in your walk of life, don’t take things personally and see how you get on.

Step back and look at the situation objectively and understand why you did what you did. If you can’t logically justify your actions to yourself you can’t understand what led you to act in a certain way. Don’t try to justify your actions with the intention of convincing yourself you were right or wrong,  do it to really understand why you did what you did. Now you can begin to think about why someone else, in this case the Paramedic, would have done things differently. If you’re struggling, talk to someone else about it. Read up on the subject. You should now be open minded on the subject and better placed to know what you should do next time (this might be exactly the same as you did this time!).

In fact, even if the feedback is positive, like the feedback I received from a Community Paramedic this morning after attending a 5 year old with breathing difficulties. I still review how I performed, and why I did what I did.

What is a Community First Responder?

Community first responders (CFRs) are in schemes founded and run by volunteers who give up their spare time to attend appropriate emergency calls in their own community. They are dispatched by the EMAS Emergency Operations Centre.

EMAS always provides the fastest possible response to emergency calls using its conventional resources such as ambulances and fast response cars. However, for patients experiencing cardiac arrest every second counts. For every minute that passes without defibrillation a person’s chances of survival can decrease by up to 10%.

In the more rural and hard to reach areas of the East Midlands, community first responders have a much better chance of providing the immediate help needed prior to the arrival of an EMAS crew.

All CFRs are trained to a high level by EMAS over a series of multi-day courses. Regular training sessions are held by the group and annual requalifications in Basic Life Support (BLS) and Drugs are mandatory.