As described in the Fire Service it is a dulling of the senses, becoming content in routine and mulling over the day in/day out tasks. Complacency causes us to stop learning to look at calls as mundane. To not be prepared for the big one, if you will.
I haven't been in the EMS field long. Certainly not long enough to be a victim of complacency but after a recent call I had I couldn't help but dwell on the fact that I had in the very essence of the word, complacent. Here's the back story.
It was this past Sunday and I had just started my shift. A bright and early 7am. I had just finished the daily check lists and the phone rang. I recognized the number, a local nursing home. I thought to myself oh great what could it be this time? A stubbed toe? A presumed fall that didn't actually happen? Who knows. I received the information from the nurse and it was what I had presumed. A patient with shortness of breath and had an 02 saturation of less than 90%. This is usually a pretty run of the mill call. Bring in to the ER, they check them out for pneumonia and we bring them back. Well we ran code to the Nursing home as per our directives. When we got there a scene unfolded that I wasn't quite mentally prepared for. We walked in and the nurses told us to run, the patient is coding. For those of you that don't know, when a patient is coding they are void of a pulse or any other vital signs, circling the drain or on the brink of death.
I ran to get the heart monitor and jump kit as my medic partner went to assess the situation. As I was running back the hospital medic service was pulling in. We went in and I fielded all the tools my partner needed and I was amazed at being able to remember where everything was. Thank you daily/weekly checks, I will never take you for granted again. I jumped in and started doing chest compressions. This was the first call where I was having to do them. My partner was working on establishing an airway and the hospital medics were working on hooking up an IV. Well sadly to say we couldn't get a line and had been performing CPR for too long and the hospital medics called medical control and called the guy.
Now I bet you are probably wondering just where I became complacent or maybe you have an idea. It was at the beginning of the call. Through countless Nursing home calls that turned out to be nothing I grew accustom to the routine. I did not treat each call like the big one. Did the patient receive a lack of proper care because of it? No. I was lucky, we showed up and did everything we could, the best we could. Could we have done anything differently on the call? I'm not sure. I could have gone into the call with a better attitude for sure.
What sticks with me and what will stick with me is I let a series of mundane calls cloud my judgment on other calls. What I swore not to do is the very thing I did. However what I came to understand is that it happens. Complacency hits everyone and no one is free from it. But if we are more proactive about our jobs, and we look at each call differently, or each shift differently, the job doesn't become mundane, it doesn't become routine. This in itself brings us closer to becoming less complacent and better care providers.