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From The CriticsReviewer: Wendy Alcanter, MSIV (The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston)
Description: This excellent resource for both novice and experienced first responders is filled with useful graphics and photographs as well as step-by-step skill explanation. It thoroughly covers the basics, and has enough detail to enhance the skills of those ready to go beyond the basics. The first edition was published in 2004.
Purpose: The purpose is to provide the tools necessary to be successful in the field as a first responder, with a focus on the need for teamwork among responders in order to provide the best patient care. Any book can teach the skills, but this one focuses on working as a team. First responder teamwork is absolutely vital in accordance with the NIMS framework, which emphasizes cooperation and clear communication in plain English. The overlying goal of effective teamwork is appropriately emphasized, and there are step-by-step instructions and practical suggestions to improve teamwork in the field. The chapter on operations provides insight into the big picture so that even the most basic first responder can understand where he or she fits in. At the same time, there is attention to detail that provides students with practical information on how to cooperate in the field, including techniques for effective communication and patient hand-off reporting, as well as photographs demonstrating proper positioning for teams moving and carrying patients.
Audience: Although the book is written for students learning to become first responders and for their instructors, it also would be an excellent resource for veteran first responders and trainees. The author has more than 30 years of emergency care experience as a paramedic, trauma nurse specialist, and fire chief. He is well versed in the educational needs of first responders.
Features: The book appropriately covers the vital information needed to function as a first responder. Its focus varies from the big picture to practical details. The basics of the EMS system and operations on a national level are covered at an appropriate level so that responders can understand where they fit into the larger system. Important themes such as personal safety and health, documentation and patient hand-off, addressing the needs of special populations, and legal and ethical issues are addressed in adequate detail. The nuts and bolts of actually assessing and treating patients, from mild abrasions to cardiac arrest and childbirth, are covered and enhanced with diagrams, photos, and sequential steps. One strength of the book is the abundance of graphics. The photo sequences of skills is particularly helpful because students can see exactly how to perform the steps of putting on and removing gloves, executing emergency drags/carries, securing airways, connecting oxygen to equipment and properly ventilating, performing a thorough physical exam or CPR, delivering a baby, and much more. The book also makes good use of mnemonics to help students organize information and keep track of what needs to be assessed in a patient. The visuals in the human body chapter are excellent — neither too basic nor too complicated, and the system-based approach is easy to follow. The circulatory and musculoskeletal systems are especially well done and use graphics that really enhance understanding. The basic organization of the book provides for lots of review and self-assessment. It is useful that the first page of each chapter has initial goals and objectives and the end of the chapter is a review of objectives, learning checklist, and a self-assessment. The self-assessment is a good mix of multiple-choice type questions and ones that require readers to retrieve knowledge and formulate short answers. Some suggested improvements: the section on strategies and tips for documentation of patient information is well done, but it could have used a variety of examples of reports for different types of situations (cardiac arrest, breathing problems, MVC, trauma, low glucose, etc); the many helpful mnemonics are dispersed throughout the book and also could have been grouped in one place with reference page numbers.
Assessment: This is an excellent tool for students and instructors of EMS. It is practical and applicable, but it also includes sufficient theory and system organization for students to understand the role of first responders in the larger system. The graphics and step-by-step approach to skills enhance the value of the book and make it a superior resource. The supplemental resources also add value and serve students with different learning styles. The pocket guide, DVD-ROM, and online resources enable students to interact with the material in a variety of ways and carry it with them on the job.