"Le récit des expériences et de l'approche de Blake Camp en tant que paramédical est un portrait profondément humanisant de la profession médicale. Il souligne une vérité universelle dans le domaine des soins de santé : l'importance de la dignité et du respect dans le traitement des patients, indépendamment de leur statut socio-économique ou de leurs circonstances personnelles.
L'approche de Camp, qui pourrait être résumée en une doctrine d'empathie et de pragmatisme, sert de pierre angulaire éducative pour quiconque dans le domaine des services d'urgence ou de la santé plus largement. L'accent mis sur le traitement digne de tous les patients, y compris les plus vulnérables, est un principe qui résonne avec l'éthique fondamentale des soins médicaux.
Pour un étudiant en paramédecine ou tout professionnel de la santé, les conseils de Camp mettent en évidence la nécessité d'aborder chaque individu avec compassion, d'offrir le contrôle au patient dans des situations vulnérables, et de comprendre les déterminants sociaux de la santé qui peuvent les avoir menés à leur état actuel. Ce ne sont pas seulement des actions mais un état d'esprit, une philosophie de soin qui reconnaît la personne derrière l'étiquette de patient.
Ses méthodes, telles que fournir des couvertures ou des produits sanitaires, vont au-delà du domaine technique des soins médicaux et s'aventurent dans un soutien holistique, démontrant une conscience aiguë de l'environnement et des besoins du patient. Il enseigne que la qualité de l'interaction initiale détermine le ton de toutes les rencontres subséquentes, un principe qui peut être appliqué dans divers domaines des soins aux patients.
En somme, les expériences de Blake Camp offrent des leçons précieuses dans l'art de prendre soin des personnes vulnérables. Il a démontré qu'en offrant dignité et respect, les prestataires de soins de santé peuvent avoir un impact profond et positif sur la vie de ceux qu'ils servent, ce qui est un composant essentiel du processus de guérison." - Jean-Christophe Gagnon (sur Twitter).
This is the second in a series about Caring for the Most Vulnerable.
Blake Camp is a retired Montreal paramedic. At one point in his long career, he was an instructor teaching medics about the reality of working on the streets. Now he co-hosts a podcast called Yellow Box Partners and is an amateur photographer. The pictures which accompany this interview were captured by Blake.
I asked him how responding to the most vulnerable members of our communities shaped him as a person and as a paramedic.
Blake Camp : “My calls where I got the most pleasure was working with these people and helping them by talking with them. Finding out who they were.
"We would get a call for a person down – “a man down” – and it would be a street person. Somebody who's homeless and they were intoxicated. The cops were there, too, and we all know how that went with the police. So, my instinct was, “Hey, Sir / Madam, I’ve got a deal for you. Let me take you to the hospital. You’ll get a nice quiet bed. You’ll get a couple of meals before you're discharged. You don't have to go to jail. You don't have to go in front of a judge.”
Blake Camp : “Being First Nations, I had an even better understanding and a better connection with our clientele who were our indigenous population. I always made a point to identify myself as being part First Nations and the first thing I would do is say, “Can I sit down next to you? Can we talk?” And I would always ask permission. And from there, the conversation as a paramedic would come along, “How long you've been here, what's going on, how can we help you with?
“But the first thing was to ask permission to go into their space.”
“And that was the key to successful interventions. I always told students. The way their patients’ interactions go down with paramedics will dictate every other interaction they're going to have with paramedics and how they're going to respond and behave. If you treat them rough and without respect and throw them in the back of the ambulance, like a box of cold meat, they're going to expect that and they're going to reject you and they're going to fight you and be belligerent. If you show them dignity and give them back their dignity – because that's the big thing, giving back their dignity.
Hal Newman: Talk to me about giving back their dignity.
Blake Camp : “I'll give you an example. We got a call for a woman who was bleeding. She was a First Nations person living on the streets. People saw blood on her jeans. They called 9-1-1. Turns out she had started her menstrual period and she didn't have any tampons.
"She didn't have any tampons. She was angry and insulted because of what had happened and she was bleeding and dirtying her clothes. So my idea to give her dignity was, I went back into the ambulance and I opened up the baby delivery kit and I took out a bunch of sanitary napkins and I gave her four or five sanitary napkins. And I said “Here, I'm going to give you these that will be what we're going to do. You're not going to come to the hospital. I told the cops what the problem was and they said, Okay, fine.
“Happy ending, she got what she needed. She was treated with respect. I felt good because I did something really valuable. That's not in any paramedic book that you're going to read. I treated her like a person and that's how I did it.
"In the winter time when we saw any of these street people, doesn't matter who they were, wherever they were from, their religion, whatever--we didn't give a rat's ass. We would stop the truck, grab a couple of blankets because it's cold in the winter and give them a couple of free blankets, wish them a good day and move on.
"And when we would be driving and they would recognize my face, they would say, Hey do you have a blanket? I gave my blanket away or somebody stole my blanket. Yeah, I'll give you another blanket. No problem. Okay, I can't say this properly, but for me, it's common sense, you just grab a blanket and…
Give them the blanket…
Hal Newman: What would you teach? If you're talking to a paramedic student. What's your advice ?
Blake Camp: "My advice is go in very non-threatening. Introduce yourself. And say, May I talk with you? Ask their permission.
"The big advice is taking the patient and giving them back control of the situation and giving them their dignity. They don't like being in the street but that's what life has given them. It doesn't mean they don't deserve dignity. It doesn't mean they
don't deserve respect just because of their situation, their status in society.
It doesn't erase the fact that you're allowed to have your dignity.
"And that's where a lot of people go wrong. He's a human being. His social status and his living status has no impact on the quality of care that he or she is allowed
and deserves to get from emergency services. That's it. You don't look down on
them because of their social standing or where they live. They deserve the same
care as The Prime Minister.
Blake Camp : "I did a call for a guy living under the overpasses in an encampment they wanted to close. And he was full of scabies. So my partner and I said, Here, I have an idea. We had him stand next to the ambulance. We opened the side door and between the side door and the front of the truck, we each held up our corner of the sheet. We gave him a Tyvex jumpsuit. We told him to get undressed. We put him in the Tyvex and then we brought him to the hospital.
"At the ER they wanted to know why is he in this? I said it's because we had him put on this jumpsuit so he doesn't contaminate the environment and get
everything that goes with scabies in the ER. They were very thankful.
"Is it a big gesture? No. It's common sense. Here's something clean. You can put on and now we'll take you to the hospital and get you taken care of... He didn't get laughed at. He didn't get belittled. He appreciated the fact that we took the time to get him out of his clothes full of mites. Put him into something clean. The clothes never made it. They ended up in the closest garbage can at the scene.
"And that's the end of it, that's it and that's all part and parcel of giving dignity. You take the word dignity, you put it at the top and you bring it down all the different branches that involve restoring dignity to your patient."