EMTs Dispel Dangerous Misconceptions About Emergency Medical Care
Working in emergency medicine, you're bound to see some terrible things. But you're also pretty likely to see patterns happening in the community that you really wish you didn't. Sometimes you know exactly where the misinformation comes from - like the adrenaline to the heart scene in that one Travolta/Thurman film.
Sometimes it's just bad intel that gets passed around. Either way, EMTs absolutely see some dangerous trends. Now, thanks to Reddit, they have their opportunity to shout from the rooftops and tell us all to CUT IT OUT.
One Reddit user asked:
EMTs of reddit, what are some dangerous misconceptions about emergency medical care you wish could be dispelled?
Some of the answers seemed kind of nuts - like people actually do that? But others really made us rethink the things we think we know. Here are a few answers, edited for clarity and language where needed.
Honesty Is The Best Policy
Do. Not. Lie. To. Us.
We do not have to and can not report to the police outside of very specific circumstances. We need to know if you were drinking. We need to know what drugs you were using. Gentlemen, we NEED to know if you are on erectile dysfunction medication. We ask these questions so we don't do something that will kill you!
Also. Narcan. It is a wonderful, life saving drug. That being said, you will likely need more than one dose, don't just give narcan, call it good and leave someone who is overdosing. Keep in mind though it's a double edged sword. If your person overdosing comes to there's a good chance they're going to be pissed and often times they get violent because all they really know is you ruined what was probably the best high of their life.
Epi pens go in the thigh, not the f*cking throat like some movies show. And for f*ck's sake, grip the middle of the pen, don't put your thumb over the end.
Sometimes people mix up the pointy end.
Right Is Right
If an ambulance is lights and sirens behind you, pull over to the RIGHT when safe and STOP as close to the right side as possible.
I don't care if you're intending to make a left turn in a block, pulling to the left is unsafe. You're putting us into a very difficult position deciding whether to sit behind you til you figure it out, unsafely pass you on the right, or go into the oncoming lane.
And for the love of god do not slam on the breaks in the middle of the road. How can you think that's a good idea? Why are you panicking? This can't possibly be the most stressful situation you've ever been in.
If someones having a seizure you don't shove something into their mouth or try and hold them down. Thanks for that lie Hollywood. Now a good portion of the population does the wrong thing when someones having a seizure.
Oils Aren't Essential
I was an EMT and I just finished esthetician school, someone bragged to me about using Doterra for their skin care regimen and the asked me why their skin was dry. Essential oils are fucking terrible.
They don't cure actual medical situations. I'm tired of reading about people saying oils cured their cancer or whatever. They can help if you have clogged sinuses or a migraine or a stomach ache but they're not curing ANYTHING.
Separate And Not Equal
Don't argue about what hospital we say we should take you or your family member to. Not all hospitals are equal. Some are better for trauma, stroke, heart attacks, psych, etc. If it doesn't matter I'll ask if there is a hospital preference. I suspect its related to new-fangled insurance policies where only specific hospitals are covered. Back in the day, no one questioned. Now, before i even walk in the door i can hear people yelling they need to go to a hospital 30 minutes away.
Trans Lives DO Matter
"Male or female" options on medical paperwork. We understand trans people exist and that this is a loaded question for many, but please don't get mad about it. Knowing someone's biological sex is actually extremely important because of the medical differences between the sexes.
We don't care who you are, what you are, what you identify as in the back of the ambulance.
If I roll up and your jeans are bloody I need to know what parts you [currently] got. Am I treating a blown out ectopic pregnancy or a torn scrotum. If you as Steve have the first and you as Sarah has the second WE DON'T CARE, WE JUST WANT TO MAKE THE BLEEDING STOP!!!!
We get that it's a sensitive issue, but please just tell us what parts we are dealing with.
Kids Are Not Smaller Adults
Kids are not smaller adults, they're like entirely different organisms. And when they are experiencing difficulty breathing, they cliff dive. Their bodies will compensate, compensate, compensa-oof they're on the floor in respiratory arrest.
Adults will circle the drain, you'll see them steadily go from "i'm having trouble breathing" "i'm really having a hard time" "i dont...i dont feel so good" "huhhhhhhhhhh" and THEN they'll pass out.
Kids are good until they're down.
Narcan Is Not A Punishment
If you're giving enough Naloxone(Narcan) to someone to wake them up entirely - You're giving them too much.
Correct indications for Naloxone: Either apnea or insufficient respirations, generally indicated by cyanosis.
Incorrect indications: "Because they took drugs."
Narcan is not harmless. It just isn't. Between withdrawal symptoms, and the far too frequent pulmonary edema, in addition to other cardiovascular symptoms. You should be treating someone because they're not breathing adequately, or at all. You should not be using Narcan as f*cking punishment. That doesn't make you a caregiver. It makes you an as$h0le.
Not infrequently it feels a lot like kicking someone while they're down and still getting to keep the moral high ground. Hearing caregivers say things before administration like "let's see how she likes this", "time to wake up buddy" etc.
For most young twenty-somethings, the spike in heart rate and blood pressure from acute opioid withdrawal is not life threatening, but in your older patient it absolutely can be. You should be administering enough to make sure they're breathing on their own again. And then take them to the hospital to let them sleep it off. You're only creating more enemies from the population you're actually trying to help.
No Water Needed
This one's for you, college students!
STOP POURING WATER DOWN YOUR BLACKOUT DRUNK FRIEND'S THROAT.
Seriously. You're going to drown them.
You can worry about their hangover AFTER we're sure they're not about to sustain permanent brain damage or asphyxiate on their own puke.
As a rule of thumb, if they can't drink on their own, it isn't safe for you to do it for them.
"It wasn't me!"
There's not much you can do when the righteous fist of the law comes down on you. Call it a mix-up, or call it a mistake, if someone's pegged you at the scene of a crime there's not much you can do but trust the justice system to prove you innocent. However, that's a gamble, and just because you've been given a "not guilty" doesn't mean the effects won't follow you for the rest of your life.
Reddit user, u/danbrownskin, wanted to hear about the times when it wasn't you, seriously, it was someone else, when they asked: