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  • Ty Shepard

The 3 Pillars of an Effective Emergency Medical Responder

1.        Knowledge

2.        Manual Skills

3.        Gear Prep


First Aid Training

Knowledge is knowing the protocols and the why behind them. Emergency medicine protocols are based on mountains of data and cuts out the analyzing and processing for you. This allows you to respond quickly and with clarity, knowing you are operating within sound medical practices. The knowledge is the mental foundation of acting appropriately in a medical emergency. Master this pillar by memorizing protocols and consistently learning the why behind them.


Manual Skills is the actualized portion and most potent pillar. It’s the how. It can harm the patient if you have a lack of knowledge, but it is the only way to truly help your patient because it is the right actions that can save them. The only way to get better at this is; practice. Physical repetition. This builds the neuro-connections necessary to execute the tasks with proficiency under stressful conditions. It’s the final portion because everything thing you do before sets you up for successful applications of your skills. Master this by creating your method and repeating it consistently.


Gear Staging is the hack. It’s the cheat code for the test. It’s the “Left of the bang” so to speak. It is the configuration of your gear and it’s the easiest way to make your job easier on the “X” or objective. As an emergency medical responder your objective is to provide the most high-quality care in the least amount of time. Gear staging allows you to dramatically reduce the time it takes to progress through your treatment algorithm. Effective gear staging improves efficiency and reduces cognitive load. Master this by rehearsing how the gear will be utilized and staging it appropriately. Gear should always be staged in the most ready configuration while keeping it safe and secure.

Here are some examples;


Knowledge and Manual Skills

Ex: If you are very skilled at Airway management but fail to recognize and prioritize (knowledge) life-threatening hemorrhage because you fail to follow the algorithm of prioritized treatment, your patient will die.  Conversely, if you know that arterial hemorrhage can put your patient in irreversible shock within 3 minutes but fail to practice good hemorrhage control techniques (manual skills) your patient will die. If you want to be effective, you must KNOW what to do and HOW to do it. The how comes from practice.


Gear Staging

Ex: Looking for a tourniquet or having to spend time unwrapping it adds unnecessary time before treatment and stress on your cognitive capacities. Time and cognitive capacity are your greatest assets in an emergency so don’t fail to stage your gear appropriately. Remember people lives are at stake.

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