I recently did a ride along with an ambulance company that my husband works with.  I had to do the ride along because of a requirement I had to fill with the medical class that I am in right now.  I have only worked with my husband on one other call which turned out to be a fatality.  Coming from a previous department up north that I had worked on with my father bieng Fire Chief I have been used to the fact that working with family on various scenes is second nature to me.  In fact I have several uncles and cousins from up north that I would see on a regular basis turn out to work side by side with me on some pretty grueling scenes.  My husband has a lot less experience than me when dealing with medical calls and mass casualty incidents and I have seen him handle things a bit differently than me.  He has been an EMT-Basic for just under a year now when I have been in EMS for 12+ years as an Intermediate, a firefighter for 17 years and also worked in an OR for 7 years as a surgical assistant.  I have also realized that I obviously handle things a lot different than he does.  I am the "just take it easy so we can get to the call in one piece" versus his "my ambulance has a ton of red lights and sirens and people better move out of my way because there is someone that needs help" attitude. 


     I know that I was the same way when I started out.  I was very eager to get to the call and didn't care how I got there, I just had to get there because someone needed me.  However obviously as I grew up and now currently hold an officer position on the fire department my views of things have changed.  I now have people that I have to watch over as well as myself.  I am in charge of other people's safety as well as my own now even more so.  I am finding out that after working a plane crash with my husband he viewed me as bieng extremely excited and jumpy on the call.  He thought that I was very nervous and lacked focus.  I saw myself as taking the officer's approach to the call and thinking in terms of my scene size-up, number of patients that I had to deal with, is my crew ok, focusing on my patient and the treatment and then finally getting the patients out of the scene and getting them to the hospital.  It is what I have done on every single plane crash that I have ever worked in the past.  I noticed that as soon as the call was recieved my husband was driving a bit more eratically than I had previously noticed, he had tunnel vision, he was not where he needed to be as far as dealing with the patients (I didn't see him until our patient was almost totally packaged), and he had even told me to calm down because when we were taking the stretcher out of the back once on scene I accidently let it drop because I was not used to the electronic mechenism.  The only time I have ever really lost focus on a call was whenever someone has been trapped in a structure fire or fallen through the roof or floor.  I think at that point at least all of us would do that due to the fact that it is one of our own or a situation that we feel helpless in.


     My question is has anybody else encountered this specific type of work related stress when working with loved ones on scene?  If you have what are the ways that you have dealt with these issues so I can see if it will help me with my issues?  Thanks for taking time to read my post because I really would like to start correcting this problem.

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Remind him of the age-old adage "You can't help if you don't get there at all."
Exactly! Thank you for your post.
Thanks for the post Dee. I tend to deviate more toward the fire side than the ems side of the business. My husband is just the opposite so I won't see him so much on scenes but just wanted the input from everyone.
There needs to be some separation of personal life and professional life.

If your colleague is doing something concerning you need to address it as such.

But all colleagues work differently - they all have different strengths and different weaknesses - we compensate for each other - to make our TEAM stronger.

Your COLLEAGUE did not complete tasks in the same manner as you would - but you must decide if it is something that was a one time thing or a matter that needs to be addressed with a colleague.

Perhaps you need a conversation about separating work from home better. I am not saying it will be easy - but communication can improve some of the on scene tension. Discuss how your natural personalities shift from home life to work life... we are different people in different roles.

Consider the daughter role, wife role, mother role, friend role - we have many different sides to us - time to teach your family about your work role side of you. Time to learn your family members work role... sometimes there are multiple work roles too.

Include setting boundaries,such as discuss matters of "calming down" AFTER the scene is over, such as "I appreciate you pointing out any ways I can improve my work on scene, sometimes I need those conversations to happen after the call, instead of on scene - when we are back at the station - and NOT at home." Try not to blur the lines.

Also - if another NON-relative had made those comments on scene to you - would you have taken the comment the same way - personally - at all ? We have to consider comments are just from a colleague instead of from a family member - since that drags in srong emotional implications. Ths goes both ways.

One way I found to calm my family members on scene - is to calm myself. The more calm I am the more they feel it and respond. One thing I found useful, but subtle, merely placing my hand gently on their shoulder or arm for a brief moment - transmits calm energy. Also, one thing I found enroute which helps calm some of my family members/and others a brief scene / role plan. I know I am over-simplfying it - but I have faith you can make progress on this.

p.s. I worked alongside 6 of my relatives.

My wife and I are captains in the same firehouse, she has 21 years of service and I have almost 12. * We were married five and a half years ago.* She was promoted to captain just before I was hired. She started fresh into the fire service at the age of 19, I came over from law enforecement and having been raised in a public safety household. Even with our diverse and long tenured experience, we still approach the job from two different perspectives. What I will tell you is that when I first started she worked hard to offer her perspective and cultivate an open and honest working relationship that allowed for my growth. By the time we started dating we had been working together for five years so we continued the same way, on the job, as we had from the start. The only rule that we have now established, and been VERY vigilant to, is that we do not critique in our home. We acknowledge each others success openly, and only discuss alternative approaches if asked for. Again, we do not offer unsolicited opinions on the others approach to the job.

You have a great oppertunity to extend your lessons learned to your husband. The only way you can do it affectively is as a mentor and a friend. If you try to teach you will be the lecturer and the value will be lost. My wife and I are diverse in our fire service disciplines. She is a haz-mat tech, and I am a technical rescue technician (several disciplines). These different paths mean that we still have opportunities to mentor each other, and we do so very aggressively. We use these opportunities to challenge each other to broaden our vision and understanding of an ever changing fire service. It has made us both better officers, firfighters, and public servants. It has also contributed to the strength of our marriage.

Since your husband is newer to the service, you might want to encourage him to find his niche in a skill that you do not participate in. It will give him a journey of self discovery without you, and in turn make him more inclined to draw on your experience for his own professional growth. He needs to find the value of your experience by seeing the same in others.

This is just my two cents worth, but it has been an effective recipe for my wife and I. We love what the fire service has brought us as individuals and as a family.

My father and I both volunteer for the same two departments. We worry about each other on scene but we also know how to compartmentalize and do the task that needs to get done. He is my partner and I can't imagine fighting a fire or working on a patient without him there.
I feel your pain.

I am on the same volly FD with my wife. It has it's ups and downs.
I trust her with my life as any other firefighter but we occasionally have friction.
We do respond to calls together and will help each other out when needed but I generally try to be assigned to a differnt task or partner on scene so we won't get into conflict.

I have many (22) years of emergency services experience and she does not.
But she is my wife and therefore is automatically right ("Yes Dear").

At scenes I have had the occasional instance where she will criticize how or what I am doing and I have had to remind her that while we are on duty, the CHIEF is my boss, not her.
There is no seperate box for her on the incident command organizational flowchart!

Things are getting better because I have talked with her about what we are doing and how to work together better and maintain our professionalism... It's 'the communication work of the marriage' spilling over into our volunteer work.

So try to help each other out to prevent any "Career Limiting Moves" but leave the day-to-day instructions for their direct supervisor and set some ground rules for how you will interact (or totally ignore each other) on scenes.

I imagine that he will have some supervisor or mentor 'open his eyes' some day when he gets de-briefed after a major call that he had to be triage officer for or after he finally shakes off his rookie excitement and theories of how he thinks things should be done.

Hope that helps...
Yes - I love it "ignore each other on scene"

on scene - you are NOT related to me - LOL

Bekks - love your flowhcart joke - that is SOOOOO TRUE !!!!

One day after a MA structure fire, I asked my Chief if I could leave the scene - I had been there 20 hours already. My Chief said "No, I need your husband to stay" to which I responded "You do realize we are NOT the same person... of course he can stay WITHOUT ME - I don't even know where he is - except now I know he is doing something important FOR YOU!"

My Chief laughed and told me I could leave... I waved goodbye to my spouse as left in my POV...

He was on scene for another 4 hours.

I ran three more EMS calls back in our own town during that time.

The only rule that we have now established, and been VERY vigilant to, is that we do not critique in our home. We acknowledge each others success openly, and only discuss alternative approaches if asked for. Again, we do not offer unsolicited opinions on the others approach to the job.
He's not a loved one but he is my brother. Earlier in our officers days it was hard to work together. I was older and he was a higher rank. It would be Laural and Hardy when I drove and he was officer. Of course the members got a kick out of it.
My brother and I are on the same department and sometimes will inevitably run the same calls.

I've also worked some building collapses with my Dad who is a member of the USAR team with me.

In my experience I haven't had any problems with family members on calls.

We had a rough pediatric call this morning and while my brother and I both handle rough calls differently. He acted very professional throughout the entire call but afterwards had a harder time with it than me. I think its helpful having people in your family who can understand what you are going through after a tough call.
We have a couple here that are married, he is an officer, she is a firefighter. It is horrible to work with them. Even if they are not on duty at the same times. THe firefighters here have no respect for either of them, it has caused numerous issues with in the department. I think its a bad idea. You can say you can seperate your personal lives with work, but there is no way that is possible if you work together, especially if one of you is a supervisor.

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