Being a paramedic during the formative years of my working life, I’ve been surprised at how many of the lessons that I learned on the job have translated to the business world.
Medical dramas and scenes with medical personnel are commonplace in movies and TV. I’ve been known to watch my share, and I do my best to ignore the creative liberties. One thing that always gets me is the running. One of the first things that we learn in EMS is that you never, ever run on-scene. In the business world, there isn’t a whole lot of running, but the metaphor applies nonetheless. Why don’t we run?
- You wind yourself up. A responder who runs on-scene starts producing more stress hormones, especially adrenaline. It becomes part of a feedback loop, where stress leads to more adrenaline which leads to more stress and ultimately panic. A panicked responder is one who is making bad decisions. In business, someone who is panicked is similarly making bad decisions that make the situation worse. Allowing ourselves to get wound up feeds that loop and drives us towards panic.
- You wind up bystanders. Much of being a good paramedic is scene control; arriving and showing everyone that you’ve got things in hand and that they’re going to be OK. Inside, we may be shaking like a leaf, but it’s vital to show that face of calm control. A paramedic running about with their hair on fire doesn’t create confidence in anyone. Similarly, a business leader who doesn’t display that calm confident control in times of stress is not creating an environment of calm for his/her peers and subordinates. That environment is critical for good decision making all around.
- You tire yourself out. Running is hard work. Running back and forth creates physical exhaustion and will eventually lead to mental fatigue as well, whether in the field or in business. Like a panicked mind, an exhausted mind makes bad decisions.
By maintaining calm and collected and walking both physically and mentally to where we need to go, we make better decisions, and we help our fellow workers stay in a state where they are as well. Whether as business leaders or as individual contributors, maintaining calm under pressure and ensuring that we are making good decisions based on the facts that are available is key. Running on-scene is bad for everyone, especially for our patient.