5 Ways to Calm a Dying Patient

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You’re on the front lines every day performing miracles. You execute CPR effortlessly, instinctively notice the signs of an impending stroke, and have performed abdominal thrusts for choking too many times to count. You’ve done it all, and have vast  experience handling life or death situations. Despite your tactical expertise in performing daily EMS tasks, do you ever feel a lack of confidence when it comes to dealing with distressed and panic-stricken patients? Read 5 ways to calm someone who thinks they’re dying now.

1. Fake it until you make it.

Act the part. Appear confident even when you’re scared. Go on. Fake it. If the scared individual can see you confident and calm, it will reflect back onto them. Individuals in the EMS field are always thrown into different situations so it is understandable that you can become nervous too. Your patient is going to look to you for help and guidance, so when you’re overcome with self-doubt and uncertainty, stay calm. When you’re relaxed, you patient can feel it. You’ll relay the message, “If EMS isn’t freaking out, I guess I’m gonna be okay!”

2. Role Play.

You acted out dozens of scenarios during your training that prepared you for real-world medical emergencies. How many of them involved role play about someone dying in your arms, and how to console them? Think through potential situations that could happen to you in the future, and get your co-workers involved and engaged too. You need to know how more seasoned and experienced EMS providers react and respond to dying patients and individuals climbing the walls due to petrifying anxiety.

3. Don’t say anything.

Perhaps a patient doesn’t just think he’s dying, but he really is. You don’t have to search for the right words to say. If you can’t find them, don’t say anything. Be present and empathetic, and by doing so, you will relay a message of kindness and human connection that transcends words. There is a lot of power in the absence of words, and you can communicate hope, comfort and protection through the touch of your hand, engaged eye-contact, and a warm and responsive presence.

4. Breathe.

Your patient may not be the only one hyperventilating. Slow down and breathe. By slowing your respirations, you help someone terrified calm down too. Practice counting backwards from ten to one together. You’ll both relax, and your patient won’t know that the exercise was equally as important for you. By taking a few moments to calm down together, the worried individual will feel comfort from having you there, breathing in sync, and helping them during a distressing time.

5. Get their loved one on the phone or promise to relay a message.

If your patient is dying, he or she is frantically thinking about all the things they want to say. Take note of dying wishes, and if possible write them down so your patient knows you’re capturing their final thoughts, wishes and words. Use your best judgment to decide if a phone call to a loved one would benefit your patient or further elevate his or her anxiety level.

Use these five strategies to help you deal with someone who thinks they’re dying and rest assured that you’ll be providing expert communication during times of distress and uncertainty. Working in the EMS field can be very tough. Every time you receive a call to go into the field, you could be entering a situation that requires expert communication.

Practice these five tips regularly so you are always prepared. Just like individuals working in the EMS field, individuals working in drug and alcohol recovery in Louisville, KY, also face stressful situations everyday. It is incredibly rewarding knowing that the efforts you put in everyday will better the lives of those around you. Working with individuals in times of stress is a tricky, yet rewarding job, and the world is better off with each one of us in it.

Sources & More Information

JEMS, “Know When Uncooperative Patients Can Refuse Care and Transport” https://www.jems.com/articles/print/volume-41/issue-8/features/know-when-uncooperative-patients-can-refuse-care-and-transport.htm

JEMS, “Know When and How Your Patient Can Legally Refuse Care” https://www.jems.com/articles/print/volume-40/issue-3/features/know-when-and-how-your-patient-can-legal.html

JEMS, “Patient Refusal: What to do when medical treatment and transport are rejected” https://www.jems.com/articles/1969/12/patient-refusal-what-do-when-m.html
By Ryan Jackson
Ryan Jackson is the SEM/SEO Manager for Landmark Recovery. Ryan brings expertise in mind altering diseases, substance abuse, and digital marketing. He graduated from Arizona State University where he found his passion for saving lives, helping people, and his love for marketing. Ryan also enjoys playing golf, reading blogs, and anything that has to do with marketing.

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