It's called a “rapid response team” for more reasons than one. They must work quickly. Decisions might need to be made in an instant. But first of all, they and their assistance must swiftly reach the injured.

MUDr. Ing. Robin Šín, MBA, a paramedic and chief medical officer of the Emergency Medical Service of the Pilsen Region, shares with Storyboard some insight into the life and work of an emergency medical team. With this article, we also debut a new series entitled “My Life, My Car”, through which we will take a look into the daily work of people from various professions whose lives are closely associated with this means of transportation.

Dr. Ing. Robin Šín, MBA

paramedic and chief medical officer of the Emergency Medical Service of Pilsen Region

It has to grab you

How does one choose a profession that involves undertaking great risk day after day? A profession where danger could be just around the next corner, which is full of emotion, adrenaline, joy, but also tragedy. Not every life can be saved, after all. As Dr. Šín relates, this is something that everyone in the profession understands very well: “This is a profession that either takes hold of you right away or not at all.

I really don’t believe it’s something about which one goes through a complicated or formalized thought process. In my case, I had an internship in emergency medicine all through my studies at the medical faculty and it was clear to me right away that emergency medicine was going to be my number-one choice. I didn’t think about any other options.”

Emergency medicine was going to be my number-one choice. I didn’t think about any other options.

When Dr. Šín recalls his beginnings, the word adrenaline immediately comes to mind. It is still an aspect of the daily emergency calls today, but it is something entirely different than it was at the very beginning: “Just because you’re driving with the flashing lights and the siren on and the cars are clearing the way ahead of you, that’s a pretty awesome experience. But you’ll get used to that quickly, and you’ll never again have an adrenaline rush as high as on that first call.”

These days, heightened adrenaline levels are associated rather with negative phenomena, and especially the behavior of bad drivers, who, according to Dr. Šín, often panic when they see an ambulance come up behind them on the road. This situation could be improved, he suggests, by giving this more attention in the driving schools when they are training new drivers.

Put your own safety first

Back to the daily work of the paramedic profession. Perhaps you are wondering what is the first thing paramedics think about when they arrive at the scene of an accident. Surprisingly, it is their own personal safety. And here’s why: “Who is going to rescue the rescuers,” Dr. Šín asks, “if something happens to them?” Dr. Šín states with no hesitation that safety first is his firm rule in professional work as well as personal life: “When I go anywhere, even to the nearest store to buy bread, I buckle up. I require the same for all other members of the crew. What’s more, I have a small son, and sometimes when I look around at other cars on the road and I see that there are children sitting between the seats or sitting without child safety seats or a booster seat – that for me is absolutely incomprehensible. It’s just plain gambling with somebody’s life.”

The paramedic profession involves a great deal of self-education and above all, acquiring experience on the job. Dr. Šín knows all about that. He has noticed a  big shift in his approach to the injured at the scene of an accident. Back when he was starting out, he always had felt like he should help all the injured at once, but now he knows that it is far more effective to establish on the spot who is injured, who should take priority, and then to proceed accordingly.

When I go anywhere, even to the nearest store to buy bread, I buckle up.

It’s not only about car accidents

It would be wrong to think that the paramedic profession is just about car accidents. It certainly is not. Paramedics are everywhere a crisis occurs, regardless of what we think.

A sudden deterioration in health, the result of a domestic dispute, a whole variety of work-related injuries or cases related to leisure time, and especially during the summer or winter vacations.Transporting pregnant women is also common, and it is not exceptional for an unplanned birth to occur in the ambulance.

When asked if there is any kind of local “specialty” or unusual case that occurs in the Pilsen Region, Dr. Šín does not hesitate: “With respect to the number of highways which run around or directly through wooded areas, we fairly often encounter accidents with animals. I myself have responded to calls after collisions between a wild boar and motorcyclist and between a deer and bicyclist.”

The greatest reward is when someone says thanks

Speed is, of course, the alpha and omega of the paramedic profession, but sometimes too much haste is also problematic. It is good to keep in mind that when people want help and call the emergency help line, they also should communicate patiently with the operator. Unfortunately, in practice, this patience is often non-existent. But only then is it possible to define the scope and type of help needed. “It is really a very big difference whether to send a rescue vehicle without a doctor or with one,” he explains.

And what brings true satisfaction to Dr. Šín, what makes his work meaningful? He does not have to search for an answer: “I’m most pleased when people go out of their way to thank me for what I did for them. I must say that it has happened to me a couple times, and most of the time it concerned very difficult cases when a person truly came back to life. In our field, this is really amazing.”

10 quick questions for Dr. Ing. Robin Šín, MBA

1.    How was your workday yesterday?

We immediately had two calls to accidents, one of  which was serious. It happened just a little ways out of Tachov. The driver apparently didn’t allow for the driving conditions, hit a truck head on, and had to be revived. They were airlifted to the university hospital in Pilsen. The second accident involved a pedestrian who was hit crossing against the light.

2.    What drew you to the profession of medical emergency doctor?

For me, it was my clear first choice. Actually, all through my course of study at medical school, I had an internship in emergency medicine and it didn’t occur to me to change. In short, I found my calling in emergency medicine.

3.    What do you like most about emergency medicine?

One of the most important things for me is that I truly see the results of my work right away. I’m not a long-distance runner; if I would be in, for example, internal medicine specialties, I would have the feeling of gratification that I was taking care of patients with chronic illnesses in the long run. I’m perfectly satisfied with immediate results.

4.    And what do you have an urge to change?

I’m really sad about young patients under the influence of alcohol and various addictive substances. One can see in this a certain development in the broader society. When I was of secondary school or university age and we would drink too much at a party, we always took care of one another. Unfortunately, these days you just don’t see that. Everyone only looks out for themselves. They leave a friend with whom they were just hanging out a few hours earlier lying somewhere and then they think it’s funny that the ambulance or police come for them and that sort of thing. It’s an experience for them to boast about on social networks.

5.    How was it when you first drove a car?

My first car was a ŠKODA 110, and I realize that I wasn’t a fully responsible driver at that time. I was the usual kind of show-off who immediately thought he knew best about everything and, at the same time, still didn’t know how to anticipate plenty of driving situations. That came to me with time. And how did it make me feel? Certainly, there was a strong sense of freedom combined with a certain exhilaration as if I could go anywhere.

6.    What would you do if cars didn't exist?

Maybe I’d ride a horse. (The doctor laughs sincerely.)

7.    What do you think cars will look like in 20 years?

I think we won’t even know what are diesel or petrol anymore, and these ordinary vehicles won’t be driven anymore by a human being. I only know that the human element will be maintained behind the wheel in emergency services vehicles.

8.    What was your favorite toy as a child?

I most enjoyed playing with one particular set of building blocks, which will remain nameless. In particular, I enjoyed the set with a city theme. It also included, of course, an ambulance, hospital, doctors, and so on. Certainly, we also played doctors and patients with this.

9.    Do you have some unusual story that you experienced with a car?

I would certainly file that under an automobile accident. I’ve experienced these both privately and with the ambulance. The very first happened about a half-year after I got my driver’s licence, and based on this experience I became acutely aware of how important safety is – not only for the driver but also for the passengers. I was sober at the time but was driving a friend who was drunk from a party, and he didn’t want to buckle up. If I had not forced him to buckle up by telling him he would do so or go nowhere, then he wouldn’t be here today. And I wouldn’t be either. It was a head-on collision into a fixed barrier.

10.    If you could GO anywhere in the world, where would it be?

For me, that’s a really easy question. I’d like to drive across the United States from the west to the east or the other way around. I’d like to experience the changing weather, landscape and vast distances. That must be a driving experience unlike anything else. And clearly, I’d like to do this with the KODIAQ.