Friday, 8 October 2010

Who wants trauma?

What is it with Trauma? You've probably heard similar comments as I have...

"Went to this wicked job last night"
"Oh, what happened"
"Well it was this proper trauma job...."

I have heard people talk, even rave about trauma jobs, "proper jobs", jobs where people are significantly injured and it takes a lot of effort to save them. So many people, and often new people particularly, seem to be transfixed on these jobs, some I'd say even look forward to them.

And, to a point, I understand their "attraction" - the fact you have to use your skills, think on your feet, actually use all that training you once did, cannulation, the needle chest decompression (sticking a needle in the chest to relieve a potentially fatal pressure build up), giving fluids, working alongside HEMS. It's a proper job. The sort we all trained for.

But, is this right? We are a profession that exists to care, to help the sick and injured. So how can we WANT a trauma job when that requires someone to be seriously injured? In fact, any "proper" job where someone is unwell enough for them to require full blown paramedic interventions, drugs etc surely is a bad thing? After all, we want people to be well do we not? Surely a day with no patients would mean a day where everyone is well and not injured??

It seems to be a contradiction - liking the trauma jobs (or other such hard working jobs) yet wanting to make people better. A bit of a moral nightmare. And this got me thinking....

I can't speak for everyone, but I don't want people to be injured or sick just so I can use a skill I haven't done in a while. Some of the least used skills are ones that I don't want to use (they mostly involve very unwell kids / babies - which is why I don't want to use them!). However, I think we all can agree that a day with no illness / injury is not something we are likely to see. And so, I'd rather be somewhere where I can help those who most need it.

It's still morally shaky. Still not sure how I feel about trauma. I wouldn't say I "enjoy" a trauma job, again there is a sick and injured human being at the centre of all of it - someone's son/daughter, brother/sister - but as a job, whatever the outcome I find it brings the best out of people. There is definite teamwork, there's a yearning to do the best, do it well and do it quickly. We all pull together and fight together for the same outcome, and it is this shared experience, this teamwork that I think I enjoy.

So, judge me if you will, but I do like a proper job, trauma or otherwise, but not because I like guts and gore or really sick people, but that as a job it's one that brings the best out in people and you really work as a team. But I'd still rather I was never needed.


  1. I consider it more a "I don't want anyone to be severely injured or seriously ill, but it happens, and I'd like to be there to look after them".
    Morally it is a bit of a tricky one, but I believe that anyone who works in emergency services does not WANT people to get sick/hurt, more they want to be there when the inevitable happens. I don't think that enjoying trauma calls is bad - reminds us that not everyone is wasting time, and also helps keep skills up.

  2. The definition of a trauma junkie: 'I don't want you to be horribly injured, I just want to be there when you are'