Meet Dr Chesters

Crew, Staff story

Dr Adam Chesters

Emergency medics need to have cool heads. They simply can’t do their job – which requires steady hands and clear thinking – unless they remain calm; and part of their role is indeed to help calm the patients they are treating. Less often recognised, though, is that emergency medics also need to be deft communicators.

I don’t mean with patients. It’s obviously very valuable for medics to engage successfully with their patients. Words matter, and so does ‘manner’; and that is as true at the proverbial ‘bedside’ as it is by the roadside, which is where the EAAA more often recovers its patients. What medics understand that patients don’t tend to, however, is the importance of medics communicating successfully between themselves, most especially at the point of ‘handover’.

When medics who have been first on the scene of an accident pass patients on to hospital departments, they must relay the nature of the accident and the treatment taken up until that moment. Getting the details right here can be a matter of life or death. But accuracy is not, and cannot be, the only consideration.

Time is also a pressing concern. The handover must be full, but also economical. Rather than attempting to share every single detail, then, they must sift what’s salient, so that the patient’s next phase of treatment can begin as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

Dr Adam Chesters, EAAA clinician and consultant in emergency medicine at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, explains: “It is a critical time for patients. Things can get missed – a 30-second brief needs to encapsulate all that has happened at a complex scene. It is therefore vital that information is precise, relevant and timely.”

Time is also a pressing concern. The handover must be full, but also economical. Rather than attempting to share every single detail, then, they must sift what’s salient, so that the patient’s next phase of treatment can begin as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

Adam’s role as both a consultant in pre-hospital care and a consultant in emergency medicine allows him to understand the handover from both points of view. He understands, because he has witnessed first hand what accident scenes look like; he appreciates the diverse difficulties that can attend pre-hospital care, and therefore why certain clinical decisions have been taken.

This sense of mutual-understanding between the EAAA and hospital medics is something the charity has been keen to cultivate. There is now greater overlap of personnel and professional expertise than at any time in the charity’s nearly 15 years’ history.

In the patient’s journey to recovery, there are other points of handover in addition to that between pre-hospital and hospital emergency medics. But none is more time-pressured and important than the precious seconds snatched at this earliest stage of treatment.

And at this moment of handover, communication may rely as much on unspoken assumptions borne out of shared experience as on the best chosen words.

Written by Jilly Hurley, PR Manager