Friday, September 7, 2007

- From now on, you're my cleaning lady.

How do you motivate someone to do the worst, shitty, bitch jobs that EMS has to offer? All the stuff that to the casual observer would not be what they think is involved - all the boring stuff.

-Washing the unit
-Cleaning the unit after calls and at the end of shifts
-Cleaning the station

I've tried to show leadership by taking the helm and showing my rookie the ropes of doing all the nonglamorous-but-necessary shit we need to do so that we can concentrate the rest of our time on "actual" work.

Personally, I don't know if I'm weird, but I've rarely had to have been asked to wash and clean the unit or station. I'm not obsessive compulsive but when you think about all the shit that happens in the back of your unit...

Plus, I like being in a clean unit. I take pride in it. I Pledge my tires. I disinfect the keyboards of out MDTs. I take the mattress off our cot and spray it with a hose. I go the extra mile, and I like to inspire my new Basic to do the same. Not only does it look good, it's healthier for you.

Case in point: 3 medics at one of our stations were diagnosed with Staph infections. Nothing but guys worked at the station and it was notorious for being a sty. I hate to think what might've been crawling around the back of their unit. I had worked over time out at the station, and when I woke up before shift change and started to mop, and asked the paramedic to give me a hand, he looked at me like I was retarded. "I'm the paramedic," he said. "You're the Basic. You do the Bitch work. That's what the B is for!" I thought he was joking, but when he refused to pitch in, I got pissed off.

I don't want to be that paramedic. I do realize, though, that the Basic gets the short end of the stick when it comes to stuff like this. For me it was part of the territory. So to instruct my new Basic partner I've been trying to lead by example. I try to make her do her job duties by explaining why they're important - like doing your inventory at the beginning of the shift. I rely on the oxygen and boards and other equipment. Until she can look at the cabinets in the unit and instinctively know what's missing, I want her in the back, with the sheet, going over each item. She just plain hasn't had enough experience to pencil whip though the inventory. I'm not blaming her yet - her preceptors, I think, might've showed her the easy way instead of the right way, and now it's biting her in the ass. A lot of times, she doesn't even know she's screwing up, and then when I point it out, she gets slightly frustrated. But what bothers me is that she seems to be lacking Basic skills. I ask her to do things like hook up the 4-lead or spike a bag, then I have to drop what I'm doing because she doesn't know how. At least she learns quickly. I just don't want her to get upset and too frustrated and sometimes I think I'm throwing a lot at her.

I've told her that if I take something from her on scene and do it myself, I'm not mad at her, I just can do it quicker because I've been doing it for longer. I always make a point after to show her the way I need and like it do be done, and that seems to be working pretty well.

This hasn't been the case with her station duties. I had to prompt her to wake up and sweep the station several times yesterday before I went outside to restock my bag and begin washing the unit.

She ended up falling back asleep. By the time I walked back inside to mop out the station it was near crew change and the station wasn't swept. I had to hop on another unit across the parish so I didn't have time to do it myself. When I woke her up and told her that she needed to get up, she gave me a real hostile look and it pissed me off, so I turned around and walked back out and finished the unit. Whenever we did changeout with the oncoming crew I told her she needed to sweep and mop the station now because I couldn't stick around to do it.

Well, apparently a few minutes after I left so did she. Our supervisor came by to give us some Narcs and saw the station hadn't been mopped. I got a pissed off voice mail from him asking me to come back to the station to do my station duties. I was already on the other unit by this point, but the oncoming crew mentioned that'd I singlehandedly washed out the unit and cleaned it up while she was supposed to be sweeping and that I was on my way to work. He called me back to apologize. Later I found out he gave her a light ass chewing over the phone

All of this could've been avoided if she'd done what I asked her. I think the problem heremight be that that I'm two years younger then her and she might precieve that I'm ordering her around....I don't know. I just wish she'd get with the program. I do my best to help her out but I'm too busy as a new medic trying to keep my own shit together to do much for others right now.




Loving Annie said...

Good Friday evening to you, Medic March.

She is lazy and her attirdue needs

Part of being good at your chosen career is pitching in and doing what needs to be done.

Knowing step A to step Z and none of it being beneath you.

You do it, you take pride in it, you are organized, and you end up being a raging success because you're on top of things.

Leading by example is an excellent way to do things. I'd bet A.D. is right with you on that.

Hopefully she'll get her act together. If not, you still shine -- and your supervisors will see it.
You'll know you are competent. She'll have to face the fact that she is inadequate because she CHOOSES to do a half-assed job.

And maybe if she's a patient
ever having to take a ride in the back of a dirty ambulance, she'll look back on the day she was too unmotivated to clean hers, and regret it...

I realize I may sound harsh. I just respect competence
too much to think less is admirable or tolerable.

Having a learning curve is something we all go through, and that is different.

Loving Annie

Loving Annie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
NYC EMS said...

Laziness will cause you pain.

Slogan on T-shirt worn at a
Jitsu School of Self-Defense

U.P. Medic said...

I know what you are saying about your partner, I used to have one just like that, she couldn't care less about what the rig looked like, or the station. Finally I just sat down with her and asked her what she expected of me as a partner. Notice I said asked her FIRST. This way she didn't get all defensive like I was telling her what I expected from her. It just opened the dialogue for us. After she told me what she expected of me, she asked what I expected of her. I think it was easier for her to take because she was asking me what I expected, instead of me telling her what I wanted. We agreed on cleaning duties, chore lists, and the way calls would be handled.
After that we had a great partnership working together. Things flowed so much smoother, and I think we both learned from each other.

Parameddan said...

Interesting, I think she has an overall issue with her work ethic.

I have had the opportunity to preceptor several new EMT's and Medics. Most of my experiences have been very positive; however, I did have a Medic once that had a very similar bad work ethic. I made several attempts at the "lead by example," dogma which in my experience works very good, but did not in this case. I had to wake this person up several times during a 24 hour shift just to run calls. He never cleaned the truck or restocked for that matter. I finally had to explain the fact that an EMS station was NOT a motel 8 and he was being paid to do his job and for him to get off of his ass and do it.

He was demoted to EMT and remained with me for another year of painful, sarcasm filled tough love.

After he stuck it out for the year and realized he was lazy and began doing his job he was able to return to being a Medic. He then spent another six months with another preceptor and about a year after he was reinstated as a second person he thanked me for being a hard ass for so long and not giving up on him.

Long story short he became an excellent Medic and has saved many lives.

So, keep up the good work and hopeful this person will see the err of there ways and get their shit together.

Or go work at Mcdonald's.


Detail Medic said...

I'm happy to see this happens everywhere and not just where I am...

The only way we've come up with to deal with this problem is to make up a detailed work chart and assign specific duties to each person. That way, if those duties are not completed, you know who to blame. All of our stations have the work charts, but we rarely use them because we all pitch in and do what needs to be done. But there's always gonna be that Load...

Anonymous said...

You might try changing conversational positions with people you're having trouble getting through to. This works well with anyone, not just co-workers.

3 basic positions of power - subordinate, equal, and dominant. Many sub-roles in each position, of course, as a dominant teacher will feel different than a dominant employer.

Basically, switch back and forth between a few 'mental positions' while talking to whomever you're trying to get through to. No test position should take more than about 15 seconds.

If you play with this a few times before it matters, you will quickly get a feel for how useful it is. The same day I learned this, I used it to get out of a $75 parking fine when the attendant had already told me "No."

Good stuff.

Jeremy Pope

It's Me... Maven said...

Thoughts? I think she's in the wrong line of work.