Sunday Randomness – Some EMS Pet Peeves

< Rant>

Call me old and cantankerous. Call me obsessive too, probably. After being in EMS for a while now, like over a decade or so, I’ve become somewhat set in my ways.

No, not to the point where I’m not keeping up with cutting edge medic stuff or to the point where I won’t try out new fast food joints… and heck, just today I even tried out a new way to clean the station bathroom using the hose and the truck brush.

You know that the “Wash and Wax” stuff we use to shine up the trucks works AWESOME on the porcelain goddess! I can see my reflection!

But I have definitely developed some Old Guy in EMS Pet-Peeves (or as you UK folks call them, “Frumpydumples” or something weird like that) and I just remembered that I have a blog that people come to read. Because of that, I think that I’m perfectly entitled to rant a bit on what my EMS pet-peeves are. It’s a beautiful thing, for me.

So, without further ado, in no particular order, here are some of Ckemtp’s all time EMS pet peeves.

#14245 Swearing in front of a (member of the public)

Look, there are days where I can spew forth a string of sassy talk that would make Popeye blush. I get it from my mother (She’s a saint). I also grew up in the country around farmers and got my start in a rural firehouse. I know how to swear with the best of em’ (“#$Q#$” See? There ya go). However….


It’s not cool. It’s not “Just how I talk” and I don’t have to get used to it. People don’t have to adjust to you. You’re a professional, you have to adjust to them. When you do this, it not only makes you look like an ignorant ass (ahem) but it also makes ME look like one by shaping public perception of our profession.

Call me what you want to. I don’t really care. It doesn’t matter matter if we’re with a patient, at a facility in front of staff, or out in public having lunch. You are representing everyone, every EMS and public safety person. Act like it.

Do this in front of me and expect correction, immediately, in front of the patient. (Yes, it’s that important). Swear in front of children and I might just have to hit you.

#3523 Encouraging the Refusal of Medical Assistance (RMA) before assessing and treating the patient

Hey, guess what… I understand that you’re tired. I understand that you’ve got better things to do today. I completely understand that you’re tired of running what you consider to be “BS” calls all day.

But you’re an EMS professional, right? You’re SUPPOSED to be sent to people who call 911. Yea, there… I said it. It’s your FREAKING JOB to assess everyone who calls you to the BEST OF YOUR ABILITY before you give them a professional recommendation about what they should do. If you ask a person “So do you want to go to the hospital or what!?” angrily before you even, like, feel for a radial pulse or get a pertinent history and physical exam you’re NOT DOING YOUR JOB. Most patients WANT you to give them a recommendation on what you think they should do. You’re an EMS professional, do just that.

If we told more people “Well, Ma’am/Sir I believe that what’s going on doesn’t really warrant an ambulance trip to the emergency room. I’ll be happy to take you if that’s what you want me to do, but perhaps you could get better care by taking a trip over to the (Insert Local Urgent Care Clinic Here) or by calling your personal physician and telling the receptionist that a paramedic/EMT told you that you should be seen today, or (Insert locally specific alternative treatment path here)” we could defer a lot of what you consider to be “BS” calls. Not everything is an emergency, but every patient deserves our professionalism, if not our respect. It’s our job and our duty to everyone. Yes, it really is. No, your argument doesn’t hold water with me. You don’t deserve to be so cynical.

Appropriately assess, treat, and make your decisions on behalf of every patient. Don’t put your personal feelings in there. It’s not ethical. No, it’s not. You want to be an EMS professional? Act like one and Earn It.

#7628 Not being EXTREMELY CAREFUL when handling the cot

Ok, this is a patient safety gripe. Have you ever dropped a patient while they’re on your cot? I have. I don’t consider it to be my fault other than the fact that I was responsible by being one of the two people holding the cot at the time. I’ve never forgotten the look of horror on each and every one of their 4 faces. I. Felt. Terrible. It haunted me for weeks. It still does. We’re supposed to protect our patients. To ‘First Do No Harm’ is somewhere in our extended code of ethics. If you’re dropping people on your cot, you’re doing harm.

If I see you absentmindedly wheeling the cot, I will stop the cot, watch you continue walking until you wrench your arm out of it’s socket, and then laugh under my breath. I will compel you to pay friggin’ attention to the cot and the patient before I move again. If you resume being absentminded, I will repeat.

If you don’t know basic physics, which will tell you that the center of gravity for flipping a cot is much smaller when the cot is travelling on from side to side rather than from front to back, then you shouldn’t handle a cot. Yes, the cot wheels rotate 360degrees but that does not mean that you can move the cot sideways. Move it in a straight line. When you need to turn you stop, rotate the cot on its axis, then move in a straight line again.  

Yes, I ended that paragraph with a period. There wasn’t any more to say about that. Know what else there isn’t much to say about? The fact that you WILL have BOTH hands on the cot when moving on anything less stable than a level hospital hallway. That’s the only time you can use that little handle on the front of the cot. If you’re on ANY other surface, it’s both hands on the cot.

Yes, that was another period. Trust me. I’m saving you years of torment and some lawsuits.

Alright. Today’s rant has gone on long enough. Thanks for reading! < /rant>

And yes, there will be more coming. I rant a lot. It’s one of the reasons I started blogging. Thank you for reading it.

  • Hillary Ruiz

    Can we add… Not doing the dishes at the end of the shift, not making the bed in the station, not fueling the truck after a long transfer, leaving all of your paperwork in the clip board, not buckling the cot straps after its been made…. I was only in for six years… I have been out for one, part of me is still bitter it seems. I read daily. –Hillary

  • emschick

    I'm trying to get some of my guys to realize that cussing is bad in front of the public but those “oh so funny racist jokes” are not acceptable, either. Sometimes I feel like I need to follow my members around with a pacifier to shut them up and a choke chain to get them back in line.

  • I'm checking to see if E-mail reply comments work. If this looks weird, that's why.
    Show them a copy of my post. If they have a problem, they can contact me. I'd talk to them for you and let them know how they actually look when they demonstrate their ignorance and complete lack of a brain-mouth filter.

  • “Frumpydumples”

  • “Frumpydumples”

  • “Frumpydumples”