Top EMT assessment skills

Honing assessment skills is something all good EMTs do over time so their ability to assess emergency scenes and patients' needs becomes second nature

EMT assessment skills are one of the most important tools in the EMS strategy and it's critical that they be developed to the highest level possible.

Whether it’s assessing the safety of the scene of an accident to determine if bystanders, the EMS crew, or other emergency personnel are in danger of being injured, or determining the appropriate medical treatment to give a patient, an EMT’s critical skills are extremely important.

Here are some of the top EMT assessment skills that every EMS professional should employ:

Scene assessment: Never rush into an emergency scene without first assessing the situation. Take into account the ability of the EMS crew to safely do their job before entering any situation. After all, if you become injured on the site, the patient not only doesn’t get your assistance, but you or your crew become patients in need of assistance.

This includes auto accidents, crime scenes, domestic fights, fires and other types of accidents. Look for downed power lines, indications of toxic substances, gas leaks, potential for fire or explosions, sharp metal and broken glass to avoid injuries.

Always make sure your PPE (personal protective equipment) is appropriate for the job.

Spine and cervical immobilization: This is one of the most critical EMT assessments skills in which you determine if there’s a possibility of neck or spinal injuries that could be compounded my movement of the patient. Failure to do so can result in paralyzation of the patient, so always err on the side of caution in this regard.

Another top EMT assessment skill involves taking the patient’s baseline vital signs. These include respiration, blood pressure, pulse, pupil dilation, skin color and temperature, as well as their ability to communicate.

If it’s a trauma situation, check for blood pooling, cuts, punctures, fractures, bruising or holes or tears in their clothing which indicate hidden trauma.

Always speak directly to the patient as you’re checking them to ask questions that indicate their condition. If the patient is unconscious ask the people around them what happened and obtain any medical history that helps you to administer the proper treatment.

Another EMT assessment skill involves how quickly the patient needs to get to the hospital. If the patient is in critical need of medical assistance that is beyond the scope of the EMS crew, the patient treatment can continue on the way to the hospital.

Assessing when to load the patient and conduct the assessment and treatment on the way to the hospital is crucial to getting the patient the best possible care in life threatening situations.

A vital EMT assessment skill is to know when to call for additional assistance. This should be done promptly when arriving on the scene if there are multiple patients in need of medical treatment. Failure to observe the entire scene accurately and thoroughly and call for backup immediately can have critical repercussions.

Honing assessment skills is something that all good EMTs do over time, so that their ability to assess emergency scenes and patients' needs becomes second nature.


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