The holiday season is filled with joy and excitement. However, for those of us on the frontlines responding to medical emergencies, the holiday season can also bring feelings of anxiety. Increased travel, worsening weather conditions, and a general sense of being in a rush cause the number of accidents and life-threatening emergencies to skyrocket during this time of year. According to Business Insider, an isolated study among New York City doctors saw a 5-12% in-patient increase in emergency room visits during the holidays in 2017. Needless to say, it’s a hard time to be an EMT.
Here are 3 tips for how you can prepare yourself to handle holiday emergencies, not just physically but also mentally and emotionally.
1. Sharpen your skills.
Nancy Magee, a volunteer EMS provider, notes that “the holidays are a dangerous time for those whose chosen vocation — or avocation — is service to others experiencing the worst day of their lives.”
One of the best ways that you can be prepared professionally to handle these terrible situations is to make sure that your skills are up to par. Two of the most important certifications that you can obtain are a neonatal resuscitation program or NRP certification and a pediatric advanced life support or PALS certification.
These courses combined will ensure that you have the necessary skills to treat cardiac arrest and resuscitation cases in children and infants. Consider signing up for your NRP or PALS certification online in order to have better schedule flexibility and lower course fees.
If you already have these certifications, then consider becoming recertified around this time of the year. Right before the holiday season begins is a great time to renew your certification so that you can be sure that you are familiar with the most recent techniques and the newest research regarding infant and pediatric treatment.
2. Share safety tips with friends and family.
Another great way to prepare is to share your life-saving knowledge with friends and family. Greg Friese reminds us that, “As emergency responders, we have many opportunities to communicate injury prevention messages to our friends, families, and neighbors.”
You can easily share helpful tips like encouraging people to use safe ladder practices, reminding them to keep small decorations out of reach of children, and teaching children and their parents about proper fire safety when it comes to open flames like candles and fireplaces.
If you are working on your PALS or NRP recertification online, consider sharing some of the instruction that you are receiving with your loved ones and social circle. The great thing about online certifications is that the course materials are easily accessible from your mobile device whenever you need them. Consider sharing an instructional video or perhaps briefly demonstrating some very basic pediatric and neonatal life-saving skills. Just 15 extra minutes of teaching could buy individuals critical minutes in an emergency while medical help is on the way.
3. Find a safe place.
Though certification and preventative teaching can go a long way in mitigating some of the effects of medical emergencies, it does little to lessen the toll that each of these cases has on your mental and emotional health.
Ryan Dedmon reminds us that, “Public safety knows no holidays. First responders mount up to serve their communities 24/7/365. Christmas? New Year’s? Just two more days on the calendar in public safety. Violent crimes, tragic accidents, natural disasters, and general misfortunes do not take breaks on holidays.”
This unfortunate truth means that you need to take extra precautions to protect yourself from the negative repercussions that inevitably come from being a first responder. Before the craziness of the holidays begins, make sure that you have a safe place where you can go to decompress. Your safe place could be a physical location that helps you relax and recharge, or it could even be a person with whom you feel extremely comfortable, such as a spouse, member of your department, or even a therapist.
Wherever or whoever your safe space is, make sure that you visit often. Take time to meditate and let go of the stresses and memories that you gained while on the job, and reset yourself for the next shift. The holiday blues are no joke, so make sure that you have ways to cope now before it becomes overwhelming.
By actively applying these 3tips before the holiday season really takes off, you will be better equipped professionally and emotionally to handle not only NRP emergencies but all of the stress, grief, and exhaustion that can accompany the medical field’s busiest season of the year.
- Emergencyhospitals.care. Why Emergency Rooms Are More Crowded During The Holidays. Emergency Hospital Systems LLC. 2020. https://www.emergencyhospitals.care/why-emergency-rooms-are-more-crowded-during-the-holidays/#:~:text=According%20to%20a%202017%20Business,as%20well%20as%20other%20holidays
- Magee, Nancy. For EMS providers the holidays can be the hardest time of the year. EMS1.com publ Dec 10, 2015. https://www.ems1.com/ems-advocacy/articles/for-ems-providers-the-holidays-can-be-the-hardest-time-of-the-year-Qlb2o9LRv15YrCUw/
- Friese, Greg. Holiday safety tips for EMS providers to share with friends and family. EMS1.com publ Nov 12, 2019. https://www.ems1.com/ems-products/education/articles/holiday-safety-tips-for-ems-providers-to-share-with-friends-and-family-yscJGcAV6qJQwB8p/
- Dedmon, Ryan. Why it’s so difficult working the holidays in public-safety. LinkedIn.com publ Dec 21, 2016. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-its-so-difficult-working-holidays-public-safety-ryan-dedmon-m-a-/