Trauma Survivors Offer Gratitude to First Responders

ESO Staff

When you’ve been working a 9- or 12-hour shift – or maybe more – your day or night is a blur of calls ranging from the simple to the traumatic, the successful to the sad. EMS technicians and other first responders must be able to focus on each emergency at hand, address immediate needs, and effectively hand off a patient at the hospital in the most efficient means possible.

And while you aware that each call has a human story with a resolution, oftentimes you never know the final outcome for a particular patient. You wish them well, you hope you’ve done your best, but you return to the bus to clean up and await the next call for transport.

One nation-wide organization, however, is working to connect trauma survivors with first responders to offer real-world examples of what life is like after the hospital handoff. These stories of post-trauma life illustrate how important first responders’ roles are in helping patients, not just physically but emotionally as well.

The Trauma Survivors Network (TSN), a division of the American Trauma Society, was established in 2008 to help trauma centers provide the support and services patients and their families need during their recovery from serious injury. The organization offers a wide range of services, such as support groups, care networks, advocacy activities, and training for health care providers involved in caring for trauma patients.

For example, TSN participates in continuing education classes, bringing volunteers from local branches of the TSN – there are more than 75 centers nationwide – to present real-world stories on how they faired after their transport to the hospital. These stories often include perspective on how those rendering initial treatment impacted their overall well-being. Examples of how small actions – like holding a person’s hand, making eye contact, or words of comfort – are often what made the largest emotional impact, and can help remind first responders of the key role they play, on a human level, in the most stressful situations.

Additionally, most of the testimonials include an element of wanting to thank the medical community, especially first responders, for a job that most civilians can’t or wouldn’t want to do. Survivors realize how important these providers are in their survival and appreciate the chance to get to thank them on behalf of those that treated them at the scene of their own trauma.

Hilary Gates (MAEd, NRP), paramedic and program director for EMS World Expo, recently attended one such training and shared her experience in an article on EMSWorld. “Mostly I was grateful to be reminded that compassion endures and that these patients are not just ‘traumas,’ but human beings,” she explained. “Try to remember this when you’re dispatched on your next call. It is as appreciated and perhaps even longer lasting than the work you do getting your patients treated properly and on the way toward recovery.”


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