Every team consists of exactly 2 paramedics: they never work solo, but they can occasionally be 3 if they have a intern accompanying them to get some experience on the field, otherwise it's a team of 2 at all time, in every single ambulance.
Before a call, the ambulance usually leisures around on standby, covering a large area. As soon as a call comes in, it's directly sorted in a rank of priority:
*0, a call of the utmost importance where a cardiac arrest or an inconscious person is involved.
*1, where a high risk of death can occur imminently. This can mean trouble breathing, an acute pain in the chest area where the heart is, or a car accident with an unknown status of the driver.
*2, for an urgent hospital transfer.
*3, for a less urgent scenario than all 3 above. The subject's life is not in immediate danger, but still has a possibility to be if nothing is done within the next hours.
*4 and above group up the rest of the non-urgent scenarios that allows to be resolved within a 3-4 hours timeframe.
Once both paramedics arrived on-site of the incident, Paramedic #1 proceeds to do an overall evaluation of the patient (is he conscious? is he breathing? etc.), and asks questions to find out the reason of the call. Meanwhile, Paramedic #2 takes the reading of the patient's vital signs (blood pressure, breathing, heartbeat, etc.). Paramedic #1 keeps on asking questions to the patient to find out about any allergies to medication (if the patient is unconscious, the questions will be asked to the relatives/friends/witnesses instead), if he/she needs any help breathing, and any other pertinent questions that can help the team in providing the best medical treatment. A good teamwork is extremely important here: while Paramedic #1 keeps on asking the medical questions, Paramedic #2 shouldn't even need to be asked on what to do, to know what to bring. Marina will bring all the required medication and medical tools by hearing the patient's answers to Michael's questions. Everything is happening very fast, and the two paramedics often do not need to directly communicate to each other. To summarize, Paramedic #1 asks all the questions and makes all the evaluations, while Paramedic #2 brings the required equipment and performs all the tests.
Once everything is done, the patient is loaded into the ambulance, and Paramedic #2 drives immediately to the hospital while Paramedic #1 stays in the back. In the case of an extremely urgent life and death scenario, the ambulance directly communicates, on the way, with the nearest hospital to give all the necessary informations, and to know in advance in which room to drop the patient as they'll arrive. For the less urgent ones, the paramedics usually drop off the patient in a sorting room first, then proceed to give the informations to the nurses to know on which bed to transfer the subject. Once everything is done, the responsibility is lifted off the paramedics and transferred to the hospital staff. Then, Paramedic #1 switches roles with Paramedic #2, and get back on standby for the next call.
With all the information stated above, it should be much easier understanding how fast-paced and stressful the tasks of a paramedic can be. Hopefully, you can get a better idea on how important their workflow has to be in order to save someone's life.
In the next picture, we'll be talking about the different tools and features inside a typical ambulance. Stay tuned!
Assistant: Ken Lam
Videography (coming soon): Dan Pham