Remember Two Things: Saying Goodbye

My latest Remember Two things video is posted over at In this episode I discuss a crucial moment in patient care that is often overlooked. I’m talking about the moment we say goodbye to the patient after we’ve dropped them off at the hospital or their designated destination.

It’s an important moment because it’s an opportunity to make a very real, human connection with our patient and leave them with a positive impression of their experience with us and our service organization.

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There’s an interesting little bit of behind-the-scenes information about how I started the tradition of saying these two things before I left a patients room. I picked up the idea of always saying that I was glad to be of service to the patient early on while working at Pridemark Paramedic Services.

Jeff Forster, the organization’s CEO, was the first EMS leader I encountered who really challenged his people to take their service level up a notch and maintain a patient-needs-first focus.

Years later I had a partner named Will Dunn. Will went on to be a popular EMS instructor in the mid-west region as well as a paramedic supervisor and education coordinator for Eagle County Ambulance District.

Years after our partnership, Will and I were having lunch together when he brought up how he’d picked up on my habit of leaving each patient with a hand-shake and warm goodbye. He told me that he had been doing it ever sense our partnership. I respected Will as an excellent paramedic and I was proud to know that I had influenced his care in that way.

Then he told me about how he always asked if there was anything he could do for the patient. I really liked the idea and started trying it out immediately. I’ve been doing it ever since.

I was influenced by Jeff, then Will learned something from me and then I learned something from Will and now, perhaps, you can learn something from all of us. It’s amazing the way we influence each other, isn’t it? I hope you’ll try this out and I hope you enjoy the video.

Leave a comment and let me know how it goes. It’s been a pleasure being of service to you today.


  1. One thing I have always hounded is that EMS needs better patient care. Not patient treatment, care.

    Speaking with my fellow EMT-Bs who were in the same class as I was a little over 6 months ago when it was finishing, they all say the same thing:

    “F*ck it, we just drive anyways. The medics do everything. Besides, we just give them XYZ treatment for ABC symptoms.”

    That pisses me off. Just because we’re EMTs does not mean we throw compassion out the window (well, my fellow EMT classmates had little to start with anyways, so maybe I’m a bit biased because of that). A longtime local FF/Medic was going for his EMT-Instructor/Coordinator and taught in my class.

    His biggest statement to all of us was “Treat people like people.”

    (Now, he also advocated doing stuff enroute to the hospital vs. doing stuff on scene, but that’s another personal opinion of mine. Probably another topic for another day.)

    I wish more people would learn that statement.

  2. Imagine if everyone who griped about not making a difference with their treatment started funneling all that energy into making a difference with their compassion.

    Emergency Niceness Services. Just dial 811. Sounds pretty good to me.

  3. Steve Whitehead says:

    @Fern Some times we need better care and better treatment. Of course we should all be trying to do better right? Load-and-go vs. stay-and-play, that’s a great post idea for the future. I bet we’d get a bunch of comments on that one.

  4. Steve Whitehead says:

    @Brandon Well said.

  5. Hey Steve,

    I just discovered your website and I’m really happy I did. I decided to comment on this article because I was actually just talking about this with a partner of mine.

    I work in a privatized ambulance company with a large coverage area, with 5 different stations (some with a half hour or more ETA to the nearest hospital). We have over 150 employees and run both BLS and ALS trucks. I float in between all the stations and therefore have multiple partners – everyday I work with someone different.

    I remember I originally took my EMT course not because I was immediately enthralled with EMS and dreamed of working on an ambulance, but because I started out in fire and it was a natural progression. It turns out that while fire remains my first love, EMS is a very close second.

    I learned from 2 very good medics that I have the pleasure of working with the importance of introducing yourself and treating every person you meet with kindness and compassion, even the ones who may not appear to be true emergencies or the rude ones (which can be very hard, as we all know). I always, even if I’m the driver while my medic is in back, say goodbye to the patient and wish them good luck or a simple “I hope everything works out for you” before I leave. I have been known to be told by my partners to hurry up because they want to leave and I’m still inside the room saying goodbye to the patient while they never utter a word.

    I’ve been told I’m “too nice”….but I’d rather have that stigma than the opposite 🙂

    So thank you for writing this article and I’ll look forward to reading more!

  6. Started today saying “anything else can do for you” good tip

  7. As someone who has an RN for a mother and is a Nurses aid as well as an EMT, this is a very big thing for me. There are medics out there who have excellent patient treatment skills but horrible patient care skills. Its important for us to see patients as a whole person rather then just a series of treatments to perform. Personally, as soon as we get into the ER, while the lead medic is giving report, I make a beeline for warm blankets and then if it looks like they’re going to be there a while I ask if there’s anything else I can do for them. If you want to improve your patient care skills, talk to a nurse. Patient care is what they do (hopefully :D)

  8. Erik Torres says:

    I am currently a college student in the EMT program and like Mc Donald’s old slogan “i’m loving it”. I was researching more on checking Blood pressure and i stumbled on this website, and i’m thankful for all the information it has and when it came to this article it moved me. The main reason i’m becoming an EMT is because i want to help people and there’s no greater thing than doing these two tips left in this article i will make sure i do that. have a great day 🙂


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