15 August 2007
I had a buddy of mine send me this letter via Myspace and I found it strong enough to post...so here it is.
Dear citizens of (and visitors to) Multnomah County,
By and large, you're a good bunch. I enjoy providing you with the help you need when you call 911. You make my workdays (and nights) interesting. However, from time to time, I notice a few small issues -- perhaps we can call them gaps in your knowledge? -- that make my job a little bit more frustrating. Herein I offer a few simple pieces of advice to help make everyone's emergency experience more satisfying.
1. When I ask you questions, please strive to tell me the full and complete truth. There's no badge or gun on me. I'm not going to get you in trouble for being high on drugs, but I really would like to know what exactly you did. You're not fooling anyone. Likewise, I don't care who you were having sex with, where, with what exciting accessories, and what your respective spouses will think, but if it's contributed to your condition you should probably bring it up.
2. I regret to inform you life is not like TV. We do not run from the ambulance to the patient, we do not drive everyone to the hospital with lights and sirens, and most dead people stay dead despite our best efforts. On the other hand, we are not just a fancy taxi ride. I can start an IV (in your arm or leg or neck), put a breathing tube down your throat, do an EKG to see if you're having a heart attack, shock your heart if it's in a bad rhythm, and give about thirty different drugs for different medical conditions. I can do more in the short term than most nurses. I had to go to school for years. Respect me and I'll respect you.
3. In a related vein, if you could keep the drama to a bare minimum when your parent/sibling/spouse/friend/neighbor/coworker is hurt or sick, it will help everyone immensely. I understand that the situation is upsetting, and I respect your feelings, but the best thing you can do for the patient, me, and even yourself is try to remain as calm as possible. Shouting at me to do something or hurry up will not help. Yelling in general is not, in fact, helpful. Trying to keep out of our way, answering the questions we ask in a succinct and informative manner, and keeping your dramatic tendencies restrained are the absolute best thing you can do.
4. However, if it is your young child who is badly hurt or critically ill, you are allowed all the drama you want.
5. If I am trying to help you and this makes you upset for some reason, please do not try and hit me. I may not be as big and beefy as some of my coworkers. I make up for it in dirty tricks. If you do decide you'd like to tussle, I'd like to point out that you get ONE swing and it is never free. I have giant zip-ties, sedatives, and a radio that can call a whole lot of cops, who aren't nearly as nice as me.
6. If you are driving and happen to see my big vehicle with all the blinkies and woo-woos, please get the hell out of the way. Specifically, pull ALL THE WAY to the right of the street and STOP YOUR CAR. You don't know where I'm going and when I'll need to turn. Unless you're driving a Hummer I've probably got more weight than you, and if you do something stupid that I can't avoid and we stack it up, things won't come out well for you. Also I'll lose my job.
7. Finally, exercise a modicum of common sense about when to call 911.
Examples of when 911 is IS appropriate: Traffic accidents with injuries. Chest pain. Trouble breathing. Lack of breathing. Serious bleeding. Unconsciousness. Seizures. Strokes.
Examples of when 911 may NOT be appropriate: Blisters. Small cuts. Dissatisfaction with your fast food order. Needing a prescription refill. Colds. Minor problem (sore leg, stomachache) which has been going on for three days.
Bearing all that in mind, it's a pleasure to serve you, and hopefully I won't be showing up at your doorstep, street corner, or car door anytime soon.
One of Your Many Hardworking (If Underpaid) County Paramedics.
"Riviting..." -Life as a Paramedic
Rounding Third and Heading Home,