Andrew Mills on Checklists, Resource Management, and Not Multitasking

For those new to first aid, it seems that quickly treating sick and injured people is the key to effectively helping sick and injured people.  Now, of course I'm not saying that rapid and effective treatment isn't important - but there are other elements of patient care that are equally, and in some ways more, important.  This is particularly true in remote and wilderness medicine, where amateurs with relatively little training, and no experience, might find themselves caring for seriously ill patients for long periods of time.  

Those who have taken our courses know how I can drone on about these things, like

  • Using scene/primary.secondary surveys to make sure that you have the whole picture.
  • Using first aid manuals to guide your decisions when things seem complicated or overwhelming.
  • Understanding, using and trusting your team so you aren't trying (and failing) to do it all yourself.
  • Encouraging a 'challenge and confirm' communications style when taking charge, to take advantage of your teammates' perspectives and observations.

So, imagine my delight when I heard of a Ted Talk, conducted by an Advanced Life Support paramedic here in Vancouver, that covers all that and more - with better stories, funnier jokes, and considerably more eloquence!  Then, when I found out that the ALS paramedic in question was Andrew Mills... well, before I give you the link, let me tell you a couple of things about Andrew.  

A couple of years ago, when I first started in Vancouver, I spent a day working with Andrew, who - thanks to a scheduling SNAFU - was playing Primary Care Paramedic for a day.  This was my second shift in the big city, I was working the downtown East side, my partner was ALS... and I was terrified.  Our second call of the day was a double overdose, with both patients' unresponsive.  Andrew could have taken over, but instead he stood back, mentoring and guiding me with questions and gentle suggestions.  Both patients were promptly oxygenated, given Narcan, and delivered to St. Paul's (a half block away... the two had been released a short time earlier).  Andrew's attitude during that call, and over the course of that day, had a considerable influence on how I see myself as a paramedic, a partner, and an instructor.

A year or more later, I was standing outside Richmond Hospital listening to three quite senior (additional adjectives omitted) paramedics.  These three were crankily bemoaning the state of young Advanced Life Support paramedics these days... "except Andrew Mills... He's a star... even if he does look like he's fourteen years old," said one, the others nodding in agreement.  

And with that endorsement, please watch This Piece of Paper Could Save Your Lifefifteen minutes of great advice that can make you a better Wilderness First Aid practitioner.