Thursday, July 29, 2010

Shorts or Pants?

Well EMT GFP was the sole voice responding to my query about whether EMT shorts are acceptable. In case you missed it, he came down in favor of the pants, but with some qualifications.
Perhaps I should better explain my reasoning in going with the shorts. Besides the normal volunteer EMS work, I do lot of volunteer work at public service events as an EMT. These are events like street fairs, concerts, and the like. A few weeks ago I did a 4 day bluegrass festival with about 10,000 of my closest friends camping for the weekend, 5 stages going 14 hours a day and lots of 'good times'. (It was an easy way for a lifelong bluegrass fan to get in for free, get fed, and have free camping for 4 days.) You can translate the numbers out into what an EMT would see over the course of those 4 days. But let me tell you that it was HOT. 95 degrees with 85% humidity and I can tell you that as I walked around the festival site and campground (about 75 acres). I believe I walked 25 miles during the weekend and doing that in long black pants would have had me looking like some of my patients.
The shorts I bought for the occasion were perfect!. Fit well, looked presentable, had the pockets (not that I would fill them in that heat), and allowed me to stay as cool as possible. The rest of our 25+ member crew wore shorts as well, EMS or whatever they had and would not have done otherwise. (By the way, I had a blast and learned a LOT working with the other providers because we had RN's, LPN's, PA's, A dentist/EMT, Paramedics, and EMT's all working on a BLS level and sharing notes and treatments. It's amazing how we all worked together and asked each other for opinions and help. All this without a single Administrator on site. I had an E/R RN turn a potentially unstable patient over to me saying "this is really your field, not mine". It blew me away. She meant the 'out of hospital' (no Doctors and no drugs) part. I had watched her all week, she was competent for sure, but out of her E/R environment. I think she gained a new appreciation for what we do on the street with the tools we have.)
On the other hand, this past weekend I did an 8 hour shift at a single day fundraiser concert with my home crew, all of which are half my age. I suggested we wear shorts, but the youngsters said they wanted to present a 'more professional' image. Being the type of leader that enjoys allowing my people to make decisions and share in the results, I went with the consensus opinion. Uniform shirts and EMS pants were the rule of the day. We were there for an hour before they started to re-think the decision. The promoter of the event came over to thank us at about the 7 hour mark and said "Man, you guys look great and provided a professional presence, but next year, please be comfortable and wear some shorts and tee shirts! I start sweating just LOOKING at you!" It was 95 degrees with a temperature/humidity index of 104. I found that standing in the sun for a few hours allowed me to acclimate eventually, but I am not sure what my energy level would have been if one of the big benefactors had dropped into SCA while dancing to a John Fogerty tune ("Down on the corner, Out in the street..." makes everybody dance).
Sorry folks, I may be against the mainstream and current teachings, but I'm gonna stick with the shorts. My comfort speaks to my ability to help my patients in extreme conditions. It's the same reason I wear long wool underwear in February when it's 20 below zero.
Feel differently? Leave a comment and let us all know.

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