The company I work for has been experiencing a lot of them lately. I know that some of you may be jealous, and I would like to offer my personal apologies to you, but the rest of us are starting to get stir-crazy.
I'll admit that I'm a fan of naps after my station duties have been taken care of. Even with those few moments of shut-eye, I still get those moments where I just want to do something. The problem is, I'm sometimes too lazy to do something useful and sometimes feel to guilty to do something personally productive. TV usually wins the battle.
I am starting to rethink this though. Every time the idea pops up, I think of Greg Friese at Everyday EMS Tips and his article on dealing with EMS down time. In the article, Greg suggests the following ideas to beat boredom:
1. Read a professional (EMS) magazine.
2. Get some exercise.
3. Go above and beyond with station duties.
4. Read blog posts from your favorite EMT and Paramedic bloggers.
5. Listen to an EMS Podcast.
6. Complete a continuing education lesson (online).
7. Write a post for your own blog.
8. Write and submit an article to a professional magazine
9. Participate in an EMS Social Network.
10. Learn about EMS in other places
All of these suggestions are awesome. I won't lie that I've done quite a few of them myself. I thought that I might add a five of my own to the list, partially because new ideas are always helpful and also because some of us are stuck out on the road without a station nearby to post at. So here we are:
11. Detail your truck. Even when I used to work for a private service that kept me posted out on the road, I would keep a few basic cleaning supplies in one of the truck compartments. You'll be amazed at how far a little degreaser, window cleaner, and leather protector can take you. Shine the wheels, climb up and scrub the bugs off those hard-to-reach places on the top of the truck, get the dash looking pretty, and be able to take pride in your rig!
12. Write in a journal. If you don't have access to the internet or the station computer is just backed up, trying pulling out a notebook and jotting away. Maybe you'll write the draft for your next big EMS blog post, or just talk about how your day is going. If you have kids or will later on, they'll love to know what your day-to-day life was like. The best part about journaling is that it is stress-relieving. (Just try to keep your haikus to yourself!)
13. Get involved in your community. With a supervisor's permission, stop by public places and say hello. Having good public relations with your local hospital and schools can take you a long way. If that isn't an option, try posting your truck at a local park or somewhere that the public sees they can approach you if they need help. Be friendly and get out there!
14. Get familiar with your truck. Have you got a new stair chair or one of those fancy auto-CPR devices but haven't had an "opportunity" to use it yet? Get it out and learn yourself on it. It keeps you fresh in your skills and knowlege and keeps the public from doubting you when you need it the most. It looks good when we don't fumble with our equipment.
15. Get to know your partner. Having a good working relationship with your partner is a good foundation for having smooth EMS runs. Getting to know a little about the person that sits next to your for 12+ hours a day will help you to know what to expect from them when your working a code later on without time to chat. You build that certain flow that you see from the old-timers that have been doing this stuff together since the dawn of time. You don't have to be their best friend, but it would be good to make sure they trust you.
Hopefully, these ideas will help you the next time you wake up from a nap and run out of things to do. As for me, I think I've inspired myself to get out of this chair and go clean something!