I know this is not directly related to paramedicine, but I feel like it is still pertinent, so bear with me.

During a recent training exercise in Guatemala, I had the pleasure of working with an international team of aircrewmen and students. Who all had something extraordinary to bring to the table. That said, communication is difficult because most of us were unfamiliar with each other, and English was not the first language of many.

Building rapport, gaining trust, and making sure everyone has a basic understanding of what needs to be accomplished is critical to any exercise, whether that be flying long line or hoist operations or medication dosages. 

This mission, however, is the type of communication that cannot be screwed up. Because if it does, someone may get very hurt. Not to dumb down medication administration in any way.

Chris Sharpe, mi jefe, and the Chief Aircrewman assigned me to work as the dispatcher/rear aircrewman during a long line short-haul operation for aircrew students working on their FAA certification. The pilot,  a Guatemalan senior and very experienced pilot, the left seater (Razor), British, and the HSAR Tech on the line with the student also British. The communication between the winchman/HSAR Tech (Jimmy Jungle) and I had no voice comms during the entire evolution.  This was complicated and stressful. However, it turned out very successful and safe due to our pre briefs. 

Before the mission the Jimmy and I discussed the mandatory hand signals in-depth, we ensured that each sign meant something particular to communicate anything critical or non-critical to the left seater and pilot. I then confirmed with both Razor, the pilot, and Jimmy the signals and verbiage that we needed to be safe and effective.

The fact at each of us are from different backgrounds, countries, and even different branches of service were still able to communicate effectively was due to a plan a brief if you will and consistent and familiar hand signals and plain language, as Razor would say, “just say what you see, but no small talk. Clear, Concise and with Confidence” but also, sound like you know what you are talking about. 

To the point: communication is key to a successful evolution, no matter how large or small. Talking with your team and ensuring you are all on the same page leads to positive outcomes.

After the completion of the evolution, we performed an after-action review and worked on the things we did well and those we did not do so well to improve for the next time. Give it a try during your next mission or even patient transport, figure out what went well and what did not. It may change your processes and improve your care. I know it helped me to better myself as the rear aircrewman, a job that is definitely not as simple as I thought.

Thanks, Edras, Chris, Jimmy, and all of the students for their confidence in me.