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practicing for practicals

Discussion in 'Pre-Hospital [ EMS ]' started by freethinker, Apr 7, 2007.

  1. freethinker

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    I'm taking an EMT-B class in New York. (that means state exam, not nationals) The textbook work is easy but time-consuming, and the in-class theory tests and quizzes are easy. The problem is that I tend to have difficulty feeling radial and brachial pulses. I know what to do and where to look for them, but I usually don't find them on the first try. Sometimes I can feel something weakly, but not strong enough to count it. On the real test, for the trauma station you have to report rate and quality. Obviously, if you can't palpate the radial pulse you automatically fail. Likewise, for the bleeding control station, if the instructor puts their hand next to yours and can't feel the brachial pulse, you've just failed the practical.

    I've put in too much work and come too far to fail over something stupid like that. The problem is that I don't have anyone to practice one-on-one with who both will know if I'm doing it right and has enough time to spend helping me. In class there's only so much hands-on time they can give you, especially since everyone else needs practice, too. Does anyone have any advice?
     
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  3. psychbender

    psychbender Cynical Member
    Physician

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    Do you have any friends? Ask if you can borrow one of their arms for a bit; buy them some beer to say thanks. I always advocate buying some beer for your friends...I never know when I might be one of them.

    You don't necessarily need someone else to verify that you detect a pulse. On most healthy people, its fairly obvious when you do finally find it (maybe ask them to do some light aerobics immediately before to get the heart rate up, if you're still having difficulty). Just keep trying until you go "Eureka, I've got it!"

    And if you don't have friends, practice on yourself. Unless you only have one arm, you should be able to palpate your own radial and brachial pulses. Figure out the landmarks on yourself, and then apply those to others. Also, make sure you're not palpating too hard, or else you won't feel it even if you're right there.
     
  4. freethinker

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    Thanks for the good advice. I figured out to look for the radial pulse directly on the thumb side of the visible vein running down the middle of the wrist, but when I press down gently, I feel a faint throbbing that's difficult to count.

    Actually, a lot of my friends are EMTs, but they usually don't have much spare time. In fact, the first time I found the radial pulse on the first try was in a rare instance when one of my friends had nothing to do and suggested practicing on him.
     
  5. Glorified

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    buy your self a BP cuff and stethoscope. I learned how to take my own BP. practice on your parents and yourself. It really makes you learn how to find the pulses. Palpate the brachial puls before taking a BP then place stethoscope right over that area. you will hear it much more clearly.
     
  6. freethinker

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    I passed the NYS EMT-B practical skills test! I already had the stethoscope-bp cuff kit, but to be sure I was getting the right numbers, I also bought an automatic cuff that displays the bp and pulse. I practiced on a few people in my family, and to make sure I did everything right on test day, I spent an entire day making up my own study sheets.
     
  7. Glorified

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    congratulations. that's great
     

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