From the pitcher's mound to the recliner: Where to practice patient assessment skills

Create and complete realistic patient assessment scenarios to challenge EMS students, new EMTs and new paramedics

Assessing patients in various environments is a crucial aspect of EMS. As a student, new EMT or new paramedic  It is essential to practice patient assessment skills in different environments. Practice patient assessment skills, including performing a thorough physical examination, obtaining a detailed medical history, and assessing vital signs, in various locations and scenarios to become more proficient and confident in your abilities. 

One of the benefits of practicing patient assessment skills in different environments is that it enables EMS providers and healthcare professionals to identify potential hazards and risks. For example, a patient who has fallen in a bathroom may be at risk for further injury if not properly assessed and moved. Similarly, a patient in a car accident may have hidden injuries requiring immediate attention.

Another benefit of practicing patient assessment skills in various locations is that it allows EMS providers to become more familiar with the equipment and tools they will need to use. For instance, a patient who is found in a recliner may require a different approach than one who is found lying in bed.

Learn to assess and treat patients in the locations you are most likely to find them.
Learn to assess and treat patients in the locations you are most likely to find them. (Greg Friese)

Where I find patients

I have only responded to a few 911 calls at a high school, college or training center. In every case, the patient was in a hallway, lunch room, or athletics area. I have yet to find a patient seated in a chair at a desk or conference table.

Also, I have worked very few chest pain or cardiac arrest calls where the patient started on a cot or hospital bed at waist level.

Instead, I find patients in the following locations:

  • On the floor
  • In bed
  • In a recliner
  • On the commode
  • In their car
  • At a table in a busy restaurant
  • In a nursing home bed 18” off of the floor
  • On the pitcher’s mound
  • Sitting on the curb

Where do you find patients?

As you prepare patient assessment training scenarios for your students or service members, stage the scenarios in the locations where you actually find patients. As I said, finding a patient sitting at a conference table in a classroom is rare.

Email your ideas and pictures of patient assessment training scenarios to

This article, originally published June 23, 2009, has been updated

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